Saturday, June 22, 2013

Days 6,7, and 8

These past few days have been crazy and non stop. Sleep is a thing of the past because we arrive at school around 8 am and leave around 7 but on the weekends (which are Friday and Saturday in Oman) we are given more liberty to explore the surrounding areas. On Thursday afternoon, we went to a date palm farm and saw smaller villages with the classic Omani architecture. Though they are no longer inhabited, there are waterways (irrigation systems) called "falej" which run water through most of Nizwa. The date palms are also in that area (see photos below). Today, we woke up at the crack of dawn (6:00) to see the souq in action. But before we left, there was a slight problem, as we were locked from the inside. we speculate we were locked in for our protection, but also ensure that the gender boundaries remain in place. 

The souq is a collection of small venders and serves as a local market, sourced with fresh meat, fish, and vegetables. In the US, we are unaccustomed to bargaining so that was a new experience. Though it was hot, it was amazing to see a truly "live market". It was also interesting to observe the cultural differences, as we were one of few women at the market. For lunch, we ate Pakistani food and saw what daily life is like on the inside and not at all what American media sources portray it as. When we arrived back to our apartments, we befriended two Omani girls who attend the university of Nizwa and they invited us into their apartment. They also invited us to stop by later on and communicate in Arabic. 

Saturday, we had our Omani home visits, where we were invited to eat lunch in a traditional Omani household. We, the girls, entered through a separate entrance and immediately were offered coffee doughnuts and dates. We then had lunch, consisting of chicken, rice, cucumber and carrot salad and yogurt sauce. This lunch experience was nothing I had ever been through before. I was particularly unaccustomed to eating from a communal platter of chicken atop a bed of rice. We gathered around the plate and ate from it, sharing the meat without utensils. After lunch, we played with the children, who were so happy to take photos of us. What I realized is that Omani families are very much centered around meals, and not about scheduling every hour of every day. Our lunch lasted for 5 hours, but it was well worth it. If you have any questions, feel free to post them!

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