Wanda Goes to Salalah--Part 1, Round 2!
I have already written and posted this and then the post absolutely vanished! No idea what happened. I have reconstructed the post, to the best of my memory.
I have written about Joe in Salalah and Austin in Salalah. Finally, it was my turn to visit Joe's home away from home.
Just wanted to show you a map of Oman. Muscat is located at the top, with the star. That is where I live. I am very close to the UAE, which include Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Also close to Iran. It was a 1 1/2 hour flight to Salalah, which is at the bottom part of Oman.
Salalah is in Dhofar, Oman's southernmost province. "Dhofar is in many respects a separate country to Oman-- different in climate, people, and customs. Dhofar's people are closer to the Hadramaut tribes (Yemen) than to the northern Omanis, linked by centuries of shared interest in the frankincense trade routes."
It seemed appropriate to place a picture of a frankincense bush here. This bush is found in the middle of the quarry. More about the quarry later. Do you see the pale lines among the branches and trunk? Those were cut into the bark, to let the sap run out. The sap, when hardened, is the frankincense that we burn.
Back to my trip. This is the road leading out of the Salalah airport. Beautiful, tall, coconut palm trees. The palm trees in Muscat are mainly date palms, and are shorter. This road reminded me of Los Angeles. Definitely one of the prettier parts of Salalah.
This is on the outskirts of Salalah, on our way to see the sheik. Sheiks are the head of a tribe, or village. Some sheiks can be very powerful, but the one we were on our way to see is more like a town mayor.
Joe already had a meeting set up with the sheik. He tried to postpone the meeting, due to my visit. Sheik Barkhit insisted that Joe bring me to his home for a late lunch. So there I was. There were several large platters of fruit. We were served delicious hot tea with ginger. We were also served Arabic coffee. The coffee was served in tiny cups and the cups were only filled halfway. The coffee was unsweetened, but I was shown to take a bite from a date, then sip the coffee. Most enjoyable!
Here is Sheik Barkhit. You may remember him from Austin's blog post. The reason for the visit. Well, there are a few villages near Joe's company's quarry that consider the quarry an encroachment on their camel-grazing land. Joe is building this village a public majilis room, for goodwill. The men are going over changes they want made to the blueprints. A majilis room is a meeting room. I thought it was just for men and was a bit surprised to be included in this majilis room.
After business, we went to the dining room for lunch. Same type of furniture as the majilis room and no table or chairs! It was me and about six men, all seated around this platter of rice and camel meat. The men all ate with their hands, but the sheik provided me with a spoon. Thank goodness! The camel meat was not too bad. Tasted like beef.
I found this very interesting. After lunch, we went back to the majilis room. This man lit an incense burner and walked around the room with it. By the way, it was not frankincense, but something else. Anyways, we all fanned the smoke up to our nostrils and inhaled. One man pulled out his shirt and placed the burner so the smoke could go up his shirt. Then, the man holding the burner, set it on the floor and stood over it! The smoke was going all the way up his dishdasha! This is not an uncommon practice. I have to say, Omanis are a very aromatic people. They and their surroundings usually smell very good.
Then the talk turned to wives. I was told, very seriously, that Omani men are allowed four wives. This is what the sheik told Joe earlier. "Wives are like vehicles. Sometimes you get tired of driving your vehicle and you want a new vehicle. But you still want to drive the old one too!" Joe also told me that on a prior visit, the sheik offered to get Joe and Austin (who is 15!) wives from his village.
On a side note: One of Joe's employees said that his uncle was looking for another wife. He might offer Joe 100 camels for me! Good to know.
After our late lunch, we headed out to the quarry. It was close to sunset.
All the shiny trucks, ready to haul the gypsum to the Port of Salalah for shipment to India! Like Austin said, this quarry is the reason the Holmes family is in Oman.
Joe and I, surrounded by gypsum and sunset.
These following two pictures happened the next day, but are my two favorite pictures of the trip. First of all, you can see how the green on the mountain ends at the desert below. But the real point of the picture is to show the camels in the road. There is a heavy fine for hitting a camel, so drivers are very cautious.
"The King of the Road"
(It sure isn't the 18-wheeler! Can you see the decoration at the top of the cab? It is very common in Oman for the cabs of trucks to be decorated with fringe.)
Next blog post: Wanda's Believe It or Not!