Saturday, June 29, 2013

Rocky Mountain High

I said my next post would be about what my kids were doing in the US.  Well, they are still doing it.  This is what I have been doing while Joe is working in Oman and the kids are gone.  I went to see a dear friend in Colorado!
She lives in Evergreen, a beautiful town in the outskirts of Denver, in the mountains.  This was the view from our restaurant where we celebrated Doneva's birthday.
After dinner, we went on a beautiful drive.  We saw deer and elk.
 But our most exciting sighting??  A wild brown bear!!  I was pretty amazed to see the bear.  Just walking around.
The next day, we drove to Vail for the day.  Just one of the thousand stunning views.
This painted sphere was outside the Betty Ford Garden Center in Vail. 
Our view from our lunch table.  It was the most glorious day!
I am definitely thinking, future vacation spot!  Vail deserves more than just a few hours.
 I loved these wind sculptures.  Just couldn't figure out a way to fit it in my suitcase.
I got a kick out of the signs for spots to put snow chains on your tires.  Not something I would see in Oman!

 Okay, I was driving back from Vail to Evergreen.  Everywhere I looked, there were spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains.  Then I see this sign.  Scenic Area.  Really??  How could the area possibly be more scenic?  This I had to see!

Nice, but not more nice than what I had been seeing.
Doneva and I, sitting on her lower deck.  A wonderful visit with a wonderful friend!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Camel Meat and Yemen!

While the kids and I are in the US, Joe continues to work in Oman.  His primary work is actually in southern Oman, in Thumrait and Salalah.  That is where these pictures were taken.  Joe, his coworker Terry, and Terry's wife, Janice, took a day trip with Salim.  Salim is their PRO in Salalah.  I described PROs in an earlier post.  They are Omani nationals employed by companies to help navigate the red tape and bureaucracy of the Omani government.
They encountered this camel herder.  He was very happy and proud to show Joe around his camp.

This picture shows him lifting the lid on some camel milk.  They love camel milk, but if you are not used to it, beware!!  Taste it at your own risk.  It will not agree with you.

Here are Terry, Joe, and Salim.  Joe and Terry were invited to Salim's house, where his mother and sister prepared them a meal of camel meat and rice.  Janice is not in this picture because she was being entertained separately by the women of the house.

Omanis eat mostly young camels and Joe said it wasn't bad.  There was also rice and homemade butter.

This is the view from Salim's house.  The big fence you see is actually the border between Yemen and Oman.

This is the view in another direction.  It may be hard to see in the mist, but those are camels.  Salalah experiences a khareef season, from June to September.  This is the result of the monsoons in the area.  It will be quite misty and foggy the whole summer, which is the main source of water for Salalah.  It makes everything very green and lush.  The temperatures are also a lot cooler than in Muscat.  I look forward to visiting Salalah in August, when the kids and I return to Oman.

Here is a random man, Joe, a Yemeni border patrol guard, Salim, and Janice.  The guard was quite happy to be photographed.  Several Omani tribes encompassed the northern part of Yemen.  BTW, if you look closely at Janice's hands, you can see they were decorated with henna.  This was done while she was being entertained. 
This was just a day in the life of Joe.  In my next post, I will let you know what my kids have been up to in the US!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Schoooooool's Out for Summer!

One of the first things I learned about living in Oman is that most families go home for the summer.  That is what we did!  This is our last day in Oman before summer.
Here is Savannah receiving a certificate for 8th grade graduation.  Just a note about 8th grade graduations.  In Texas, the end of 8th grade is no big deal.  In Illinois, it is a huge deal.  Austin's school had a dance, ceremony, and picnic for the 8th graders.  Here in Oman, just a very nice ceremony.

Our baby is now in high-school!

Now some of the parents organized the ultimate 8th grade graduation party.  A dinner buffet and private DJ at the Copacabana Club!  For the whole family.
Yes, I was allowed to dance.  :)
After the party, the kids and I headed straight to airport for our late-night flight to Chicago!
And a mere 23 hours later, we are in Chicago!  73 degrees, low humidity, and sunny.  Green grass and green trees.  Portillo's Chicago-style hot dogs and Target.  A great day!  I am off to bed now.  4 hours of sleep in two days, I am ready!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mosques of Muscat

This blog post is not for the faint of heart.  It has a LOT of pictures.  As I drive around Muscat every day, I am fascinated by all the mosques I see.  There are a lot of them, and more under construction.  I have come to really appreciate the architecture, and think that they are all beautiful.  Okay, some more than others. :)  A couple of friends and I drove around Muscat for several hours one day, taking pictures of as many mosques as we could.  Believe me, there are many more we missed!
I tried to take a couple of pictures of each mosque.  One with the dome and minaret, and one close-up of either the dome or minaret. 
You will see that this bright royal blue is by far the most popular minaret and dome color.  Most mosque walls are white.

 The crescent moon symbol is very important to the religion of Islam.  Religious holidays are determined by the lunar calendar.

These pictures were taken in early May, after lots of rain.

              This all-white mosque in a little difficult to see, but it is in the middle of a block.

These minarets are especially pretty.  Most mosques feature minarets.  Before the five required daily prayers, a muezzin calls the worshippers to prayer from the minaret.  In many countries where Muslims are not the majority, mosques are prohibited from loudly broadcasting the call to prayer (adhan).  The adhan is required before every prayer.  (Information from Wikipedia.) But since Oman is Muslim, the adhans can be heard loud and clear from the loudspeakers in the minarets.  Once, I was stopped at a red light, between two mosques.  I heard the call to prayer in stereo!

It is hard to tell, but this dome and minaret are not as dull as they appear.  There is glitter in that gold paint! 

    The only black (or dark navy) dome we saw.
     This beautiful mosque is located on the Sultan Qaboos Expressway.
     This mosque may not be the biggest, but it is one of our favorites.  It warranted four pictures!

Most dome and minaret decorations are flat, but these had raised white lines.  Very unusual.  This mosque is located not too far from the American Embassy.

This is the only mosque we saw with lime green.
This is another mosque that warranted four pictures.  I had driven by this mosque several times, not being too impressed by it, but I only saw it from the side.  When we parked to get pictures, I could not believe how impressive the front was.

This is another one of our favorite mosques.  It is the only yellow one and the only one with a clock in it's minaret!

We tried very hard to get a better shot of this mosque.  Unfortunately, the best angle is from the middle of SQE.  I don't think the other cars would have been too accommodating.

This is the only dome we saw that was not smooth.  Beautiful!  Unfortunately this big truck was in the way.

 The same minaret, from two different parts of the street.

This is absolutely my favorite minaret.  It is on the Muttrah Corniche, close to the souk.


No, this is not a mosque.  This is one of the gates leading to Old Muscat.  The city used to literally be gated every night, up into the 1970's!

I think this mosque wins for my favorite setting.  Ocean and mountain views.

And here is the biggest and best mosque in Oman!  The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.