The unexpected windfalls of travel. I may be the only person in Albuquerque with brand-new boy’s pajamas from the Mutra Souk in Muscat. Is that special or what?
Last day in Oman. One day too many maybe but quite a unique time in an odd sort of way. The first day offered the experience of small-town life in a man’s world. The second day was more of the same with a couple of girls added and a second walk along an unlovely beach with lovely breezes. Today we took a taxi into Muscat proper and went first to the souk, then found out the museums where we were headed next were closed because it’s still the holiday week, took a taxi out to the rich (Grand Hyatt Hotel territory) side of town, walked along the upscale beach of embassy land, had chicken livers and rice pudding at a very sweet waterside restaurant and came back to our home across the tracks in Seeb.
We’ve come to like our hotel quite a lot. The staff is much more reserved than one expects in a budget tourist hotel (without tourists) but kind and helpful when asked. For a couple of days we had to eat in the ‘family room’ in the restaurant which I found annoying (of course) but tonight the restaurant was very normal, even had a guy in shorts, a black person and pretty women waitresses serving alcohol—none of which had been seen by us in Seeb before. Wish we had a chatty person about to explain how this all works with religious holidays in man-land.
The conundrum for me in Muslim countries is that people (mostly the people one meets are men so I should say men) are so very nice, especially to older women I think. And it is so safe. And there is no hassling. And at the same time so many issues surrounding women’s rights exist. Hard to get one’s head around. I like it and I don’t. I want to return and I don’t. I do think I will keep reading and exploring a little more of this almost unknowable (to outsiders) region.
Muscat is an otherworldly-looking city. So white and pure and rectangular. The hills around are absolutely bare and charcoal brown. The sea is blue blue blue. It’s all stark and strange-land beautiful in its own way.
Tomorrow we are off to Sri Lanka. We have big plans for our days there including getting to a bookstore because I sent all my new South African crime novels home with Steve the elder and Scott. We may go see an elephant orphanage or go to where they make devil masks or visit gem mines. And eat a lot of spicy food.