January 22, 2013

... and then we didn't plan to fly to Oman

Antique knives in the Muscat markets.
We almost bought one but realized they cost more than one of Andrew's paychecks.
So I've been in a I'm-craving-McDonald's-Chicken-McNuggets-even-though-eating-my-dog's-food-is-probably-healthier phase recently.

This has nothing to do with flying to Oman as the blog title suggests.  I just thought you should know. Our GPS has all the maps of the middle east loaded onto it as well as the locations of all McDonald's from here to Afghanistan.  This is why I love GPS's, they make Chicken mMcNugget acquisition so easy.  More on this later.        

I like plans.  I like predictability.  (Andrew's Note: Shudder.)

Take my bedside table for example.  I have had to have a glass of water from the time I was a little kid next to me each night.  I still do.  Never go to bed without spare water.  You could wake up with your ear plugs stuck between your toes and your eye mask somehow in the toilet but your glass of water is ready for you.  In college I woke my roommate, Elizabeth, up a lot trying to find said water at 3 AM.  I also broke a lot of glasses.  Sorry Elizabeth.  (Um, that happened to her for 4 years.  It's happened to me for EIGHT.)  Additionally, I like to plan my outfit for the next day every night   Even non-school nights.... I plan that outfit in my head so Andrew doesn't suspect how weird I am.  (wait, WHAT??  Are you serious?)  And while I'm in the confessing mood, I'll say that in high school I went through a cereal phase where I ate only a certain cereal (Quaker Oatmeal Squares) for breakfast for 6 months straight.  Even on pancake days.  Oh and I take great comfort in knowing that I have two kidneys, just in case one decides to bail on me... it's like a built in back up plan. And finally during Y2K, remember that?? We all thought the world was going to end in the year 2000?  Yes, well, I hid 3 cans of green beans in my closet because just in case the Y2K Zombie Apocalypse happened, I would have 3 cans of green beans to eat or barter with.

Me to a zombie:  "You could eat my brains.... OR... you could eat my brother's and I'll throw in a can of Green Giant Green Beans just to sweeten the deal."  Side note:  Try saying "Green Giant Green Beans" five times fast.

And while this logic might be lost on most, the point of my confessions is that I had a plan and I always have a plan.  Some people take medication to fix their issues, I just plan everything in my life out and it seems to abate my anxiety.  I think this is what others call being a 'control-freak' or 'inflexible,' or 'that strange 29 year old who still plans out her outfits.'  (Yes.)  I call it 'having order in my life' and tell myself often that I'm not the only one like this and I have a plan for any and all situations that might arise.  Well, mostly.

Back to the Chicken McNuggets.  After my band concert, I programmed the GPS to take us to the nearest McDonalds and instead we ended up on a Saudi Arabian Air Force base.  See, the GPS didn't function according to my plan and instead gave the illusion of a perfectly planned trip but then we ended up driving up to a heavily guarded Arab air base and my abaya was at home in the dog cage because Chile got cold (irony) and dragged it into his cage to keep himself warm because Andrew keeps the house so freaking cold that even the dogs have to plan ahead for warmth. (That was a long sentence.  But correct in all aspects.) And for some reason there are are no roads out of Saudi Air Bases except if you're willing to drive backwards on a major highway so that you can find another less AK-47 filled version of McDonalds.  Yep.  You're still reading about McDonalds.  Lucky for us, driving the wrong way on interstates is a mostly normal thing here, and we got more stares for me being dressed like a slut (read: not wearing an abaya) than driving the wrong way on an interstate.  Also, cussing out your GPS doesn't work.            

Andrew deals with all of this well enough.  (My coping mechanism is bubble tea and lots of crying.)  When we were dating I tried to give off the impression that I was a very go-with-the-flow kind of gal.  (You really did.)  He's very anti-predictability/plans so this is definitely what attracted him to me.  After about a year of marriage I couldn't hide my I-need-to-control-everything tendencies and all hell broke loose.  I pulled out the excel spreadsheets I had secretly hidden on the lap top under the folder titled "Don't open this folder until year 2 of our marriage because at that point you'll love me despite my flaws and control freakish tendencies" and his eyes kind of glazed over.  They've been that way ever since.  Andrew is so the opposite of me.  He literally lives in the moment and not one moment later.  Sometimes when he drives he just gets in the car and goes and forgets to think about where he is going and which roads he needs to take to get to the destination.  (I'm like an Irish Setter.)  One time we were supposed to be going to church.  Instead we ended up at Chick-fil-A, which normally would be pretty grand except they're closed on Sundays.  This also reminds me of when we ended up on an air force base instead of McDonald's, but I already told you that story and as we all know, that was the GPS's fault (YES!) and not Andrew's.  Or someone at the Garmin GPS company has a creepy sense of humor.

Whew.  Now that we've covered the zombie-greenbean-chickenmcnuggets (i.e. "necessary") parts of the story, I should probably tell you that we decided to fly with some friends to Muscat, Oman this past long weekend.  It was a very spur-of-the-moment kind of trip.  (Just my style.)  I had just finished interviewing for a music job here on camp for next year and we were walking out of the school building.  Next think I know, Andres and Candace (two teachers at Andrew's school) are asking us if we want to fly to Oman.  Andrew said yes.  I started sweating.  My weekend plans of watching seasons 4 and 5 of Friends were what was on the agenda.  And while Oman is WAY more fun, it was a big step for me to say yes and buy a plane ticket on the spot.  I can feel my blood pressure rising just thinking about it.  (Well done, wife.  I'm proud of you.) 

Anyway... the only thing you need to know about Muscat, Oman is this:  It is the MOST beautiful city I have ever been to in my life.  Oh, and you must PROMISE ME  that you'll visit one day.  The city is immaculate, the people are the friendliest I have ever met in the Middle East, and the shopping and beaches are amazing!  

     
Andres, Candace and Amanda.... three of our teacher-friends that arrived the same time we did.  
The men in Oman wear these cool hats called kumma that are different from the red and white checkered Saudi gutras.

Andres and Andrew trying to look as cool as the Omani men.

Muscat, Oman is mostly surrounded by beautiful mountains.  ("Far overrrrrr the misty mountains cooold...")

Most of the city looks like this.  No kidding.

Oh.  And the beaches look like this.  Yes.  We are retiring here.
If the men work for the government or are going out for a special occasion,
they wrap their kumma (hat) in a mussar (turban).

Shopping in the Mutrah Souks, the knives in the first picture were photographed at the same shop.

NOT a ring.
This is an official stamp for documents.  We bought one a little bigger than this one to display on a coffee table in our living room.  I made sure to get the bigger one so that Andrew wasn't temped to wear it around.
Because he would.
(Because I would.)

Kumma shopping.

The shop owner is trying to find a big enough kumma for Andrew.
Bwa ha.  (He said "what size?" and I said "do you have size massive?")

Well done husband!

The architecture of the entire city is beautiful.  Attention to details like this door are found everywhere.

Every building in Muscat must be either this color white, or a very light cream.
The contrast looks fantastic against the bright blue of the sky and ocean.

The ocean and mountains in the distance  ("I want to see mountains, Gandalf, mountains...")

You can't see the ocean in this picture.
Neither did Candace.   

Our tour guide 

Great example of how all Omani men dress

Okay, aren't these guys cute?  

Conversation over a hot drink is a huge part of Middle Eastern culture.

Oman is famous for its frankincense.
Andrew is purchasing it as well as a container and charcoal to burn it in inside our house.
(Frankincense is a funny thing....it was so very valuable and expensive a long time ago and now I paid  about $3 for it.
It smells like tree sap.)

We ate very well.  Those olives are the best I've ever had in my life.

We also spent an afternoon doing Hooka.
I had the strawberry flavor and Andrew's was apple.
(Whoooooooo are youuuuuu? Thank you, Rachel Dahm :-)

Then we had Snake Coffee.
Our waiter is pouring liqueur down the orange ring "snake" into coffee.

This is the interior hallway of the Grand Mosque.   (Or Minas Tirith....OK I'm done.) 

You have to take off your shoes.  Females must cover their heads.

This mosque was the most beautiful I have ever visited.  You'll see why in the next few pictures. 

Um, wow.  That chandelier is the size of our house. 

I know... right?!!




Rockin' the abaya/shades look.  (Good.  It covers more of your face.  Hussy.)
Stand there and look awkward?  Check.

We finished the trip with some beach and pool time.  (In January.)

I forgot the sunscreen.  


PS.  I went a little picture happy on this post...check Facebook for even more in the next few days.  Do you like the new look of the pictures?  These were taken with my fancy new camera!

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  3. Robert and Patricia6/16/13, 11:06 PM

    It has been great discovering your blog. You and Andrew have created the best account yet of what it is like living in Ras Tanura. As the incoming associate principal at the elementary we (Patricia will be teaching at RTMS) nervously look forward to being part of the adventure. Best of luck on your latest endeavor.

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