We were to be in Norway already – David’s start date for his new job was December 1. We are still in Muscat!
I was pretty upset at first, but then realized that we have been give bonus time in a country we love – and in warmer weather as well. I felt quite chilled walking the dog this morning – temp 16C. It’s 5C and raining in Stavanger. And we have wonderful friends here that we will really miss. Delay equals more time with them as well.
So, here is a bit about how I spent the past week.
Saturday saw three of us at Wendy’s place for coffee. Wendy has now left for Christmas in Scotland (did you hear about the raging storm they have had?) She made the most delicious ginger cake – everyone wants the recipe. It’s the good old-fashioned kind with eggs and butter – and one piece satisfies, unlike these so-called healthy alternatives that always make me feel I’ve missed something important. She showed the others her card-making – Wendy makes the most beautiful card – and she left one for each of us when she flew off to Scotland for Christmas. Thank you so much, Wendy!
Sunday morning I toured the Grand Mosque with Paramjeet, who had never been there. I’ve been several times, but always discover something new, and am again overwhelmed by the majesty and beauty of the place. Here are a few shots of the mosque, but there are lots more in the slideshow at the end.Workers outside at the front of the mosque, and two of the guards/guides.And Paramjeet in my favourite nook at the back of the Grand Prayer hall.
Monday, I stayed home and tried to catch up on my sewing. More about this in a separate post. I also did laundry, and caught up, almost, on the ironing. Gosh, do I muss Thiru. She was so quick that I never had to worry about ironing.
Tuesday saw Jo, Alice and I at our quilting class. Lots of good visiting and great food intermingled with sewing and unsewing and lots of learning.
Wednesday – our Friday here in Oman. Paramjeet and I went down to Muttrah to the old souq. We didn’t buy much – but we poked around in all sorts of things – mostly looking at old jewellery. In one shop, there was an amazing necklace of leather with old camel teeth sewn onto it. Paramjeet got a photo of me holding it up – will share it with you when I get a copy. Here are just a few of the marvelous wares the shops have to offer.
It was quiet when we arrived, but by 11 am the place was packed as a large cruise ship had docked, and all the tourists were out for bargains. Don’t’ think that was what they were getting however, unless they were good at haggling. In the Syrian shop, Paramjeet asked the price of a lovely pashmina – 6 rials. On our way out, a hawker in the main hall wanted 12 for the identical shawl. Paramjeet had a few sharp words for him in his native language. When we got to a shop that I have frequented quite a lot, the merchant, recognizing me, asked 4. So, buyer beware.
By 11:30 we were shopped out – we had a glass of fresh juice at a shop just outside the souq entrance, and watched the tourists being herded onto buses for their next stop. I don’t think I could ever go on a cruise. If I did, I would have to go my own way, and just make sure I got back to the ship on time to leave.
From there we went into Ruwi to an Indian restaurant for lunch – puri pani (crispy hollow shells filled with lentils, black chick peas and potato, then sweet sauce and then dipped in a spicy sauce – you pop the whole thing in your mouth. We also had a variation that come prestuffed and swimming in yoghurt sauce – I think I preferred those. Then thali – a lunch special consisting of a plate with roti and small dished of curry, vegetables etc. We were too stuffed to finish. What a lovely treat! This was the dessert Paramjeet had for us at lunch on Tuesday – milk cake. Yummeeeee!
Thursday already – this has been a very busy and full week – how could I have lived without it? We went with friends to Bait Al Baranda – a museum in Muttrah about the history of Oman. The special draw was a new book launching and signing by Abdullah Al Shuhi. David and Robert had met him on one of their treks, and discovered that he is a photographer and author. We bought his first book, “Oman, The Big Picture”, which highlights the main sights of Oman. As it is packed, we couldn’t get it signed, but we bought his latest,” Oman, Living Traditions” and received a calendar with his photos as well. He is a very personable man, and a wonderful photographer. the book has 6 sections, with both photos and text that really give you the true story of Oman and its camels, horses, fishing, souqs, dates and traditional costume. It is a coffee table book that will get well used, for sure.
The museum starts with the movement of the earth’s plates that caused the unique geological features of Oman, and carried on through ancient history to modern times. Here are a few photos that show what Muttrah used to look like (top ) – Muttrah souq and the shore in front of it.
After touring the museum – a worthy morning pastime in its own right, Alice and I took some photos of the old buildings and narrow streets in the area while Robert backed a long way to get out of the parking lot. It’s a bit of a hazard here, getting hemmed in.
I think we are always hungry here, and there is always somewhere new to eat. We went for lunch to The Golden Oryx, a Chinese/Thai restaurant which has been here for a long time. Excellent food, incredible service. Five stars!
The week concluded with David and Robert going out into the mountains on another safari – David will really miss this when we move – and Alice and I attended the Christmas concert by the Muscat Singers. Wow – beautiful music, well performed, and accompanied by a brass ensemble that boasts two resident arrangers. The choir sand a Renaissance sang that I remember hearing in my Music Appreciation class at university – a VERY long time ago. I would have loved to be in this choir – if only we were staying.
What a lucky, lucky person I am!