Friday, December 26, 2008

happy holidays

merry boxing day:

so. must be short. havent been on in a while as a cable feeding oman with the internet was severed leaving us with frustrated attempts since the tenth or so of this month. things are somewhat back to normal now and thats great.

the holidays have not been too unlike those weve celebrated in other countries: we found tree in the back lot - its not your average pine tree, but it does have something, we had a delicious and huge turkey dinner on christmas day, we sang songs, watched all the christmas movie classics, listened to the rat pack, met up with three camels behind our flat, gave good presents. you know...typical stuff. 

oh. wait. the camels...well on christmas eve there were these three camels hanging around our back yard. it was great. the way camels move is really wonderful - power, grace, and awkward at the same time. the arabian mountains at dusk, men walking around in dishdashas (robes i guess), the north star, and the general feel of the moment felt more genuine a nativity scene than any ive seen before. sundi said she felt like she was on the set of a play ... it was great.

so. that gives you some idea. we ate so much on christmas day that were both a little worse for wear today. but well get by...

love to you all and i promise to write again soon with a bit of catch up on our travels and the like.

happy holidays from nizwa,

Monday, December 8, 2008

Wadi Bani Awf

an nyoung:

after driving through all those crazy roads we threw down our tent in a place called "Wadi Bani Awf." Wadi basically translates to river bed in English and they are all over the place in Oman. Usually they are dry like the one we camped in, but sometimes they can flood and cause all types of problems. Luckily, our spot was slightly elevated so we had no worries. We were worried about the rain, but it just passed by.

I. - Here's our camping spot in Wadi Bani Awf. It was a perfect spot right in the canyon, quite quiet, and with lots of wood for a decent campfire.
II. After cleaning up and all that we headed to one of Oman's great forts: Rustaq. This is from inside the fort's foyer.
III. - Sun and I outside Rustaq Fort.
IV. - Me in front of the great view from Rustaq Fort.
V. Close to Rustaq was an intense hot springs. Here, Gus and I dip our feet. The water was so hot that it somewhat scolded our feet.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Rustaq ...

ma kore?

This week is Eid. We have nine days off. Originally we thought of going to a different country, but didn’t get tickets on time. It actually works out well because we just got our Jeep and want to test it out a bit. Which we did in spades on Friday.

Sundi, Gus and I headed to a town named Rustaq, via a precarious 4 X 4 only road. Here is a short visual presentation of what we saw …

I. - We run out of "road" and prepare for what is next...
II. - What is next. In the far distance you can see the road we will follow and eventually find...
III. This. This is part of "Snake Gorge." You can walk through and continue down through a couple of canyons. Without much water the pools become kind of stagnant making going into them not high on the priority list. Also, as we all know, weird stuff lives in stagnant water and we dont want any of that.

IV. Sundi and Gus heading back to the Jeep with Sundi pointing out how we may be able to get into Snake Gorge without going into the weird water.
V. Way further down the road we saw this. Not sure of the name of the town, but I definitely want to go back already.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Selaif Fort


Not far from Nizwa is a place called Ibri. We almost ended up taking a position in Ibri, but are very thankful we didn’t. There’s not much to do there. Even less than here.

Between Nizwa and Ibri there is a fort called Selaif. We saw it on our way to Abu Dhabi and then, on our way home, decided to stop and check it out for a while.

A very nice Omani man met us there and took us on a nice tour of the fort. His language was very limited, but he did communicate essential info about the fort.

Ill let the pictures do the talking.

sun looking through a fallen roof
gus, sun, and our guide
looking out onto a mosque
how food was hung at the fort

worth the wait


We have just returned from abu dhabi where we visited jon, robyn, josh, sam, and the soon to be named child in robyn’s belly. Our trip was a short one, only three days, two nights, but it was full. Mostly we just shopped for things we needed but couldn’t find here for some reason. We made a list and got only a few things we really wanted. One of the strange things about Oman is that everything that comes here first passes through Dubai and Abu Dhabi and is picked at a lot and the remnants are sent here. This means many things just never reach here. This is sad sometimes, but does prevent us from getting tempted by too many things
Anyways. One of the coolest things to see in the UAE is the exhibition at the Palace of the Emirates depicting what is being built on Saadiyat Island. Here is a link to that. Very absurd in a lot of ways. My favorite structure-wise is the Louvre. 

Here are a couple pictures from Abu Dhabi. Oh. This will be the first picture we show of our new vehicle. The Jeep “Cherokee” which is actually a Jeep Liberty in North America. Its in great shape and is a very nice ride.

So. Here are the pictures.


Here’s the Jeep in front of the Palace of the Emirates. It’s one of only a handful of seven star hotels in the world. Yes. For those of you who don’t know, there are 7 star hotels. We saw a couple helicopters come and go while there. Also, there was a Lambourghini and Maserati out front for rent. Crazy. Apparently it’s 1000 US a night to stay there. We won’t be doing that anytime. Ever.

Sun and I in the centre of the palace.

The border leaving the United Arab Emirates.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

how things do, etc ...

so. we have a steady internet connection at home now and are pretty pumped about that. AND we are only two steps away from buying our vehicle. i will probably post pictures next week of it as we plan to come into possession this week. sweet.

i realize this may be a short post, but the day was tiring, and i am pretty out of it.

here is the lone pic of the week: a flock of goats walking towards the police station. maybe they are getting their labour cards as well! that's how we got ours. 

Saturday, November 8, 2008

working it out


its been a while. this past week has been pretty crazy all over the place. i will not mention a certain election somewhere that everyone everywhere is talking about, but i will mention a party of other sorts.

as its been over a week since the last post, i am inclined to mention halloween. my mother has now seen 76 summers and winters, and i realize how tough it must have been for her when we were young always wanting candy and never making her cakes. or did we? i dont remember really. i will ask her when i call her soon. happy birthday mamie.

oh. that is big news. we have internet at home. it is not a steady connection (we either prepay a service or pay 10 bucks for unlimited usage for a couple days - this is what we are doing now to "catch up" on the serieses [?] we miss) but will be as soon as we get our work visas. we have the modem in hand though and it is 10 mbps roughly, which isnt bad really.

hmmm. oh, also big news, although we shouldnt count our chickens, is we have found our vehicle and will make a down payment this week. although we were fixed on a new one, we get close to that with a jeep liberty we saw advertised at a local supermarket. i will send pics in the next post.

speaking of pics, here are a few from the past week(s).

this is where we work out.II
i am pretty sure you can guess what these are from. hey, czech peoples - is this funny? Červená trpaslíci

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

muttrah souk (market) in muscat


we went to the souk in muscat again and enjoyed ourselves more because things were actually open. last time we went was during eid (a religious holiday) and only a few shops were open. it was okay, but not the best.

here is the stained glass work from the central room. its cool, yeah?
oman men's caps at the souk. this is only one of many shops. some shops are literally stacked full with them.
stefania's judging face. she says she has no haggling skills, but the day we were there she sure busted them out. basically she paid only what she wanted for everything or she walked out. one she negotiated started at 25 rial and she got them down to 10! thanks to her we felt brave too and cut down the price we paid for a throw for our coffee table.
sadly, stefania is leaving this week to head back to toronto for a journalist gig. we will miss her.

alright. thats all for now. i may post over the next few days, and if something CRAZY happens ill post with the week. if not, i will definitely post about the u.s. election next week.

speaking of posting, i know im bad at returning comments on here, but i hope that hasnt discouraged others from doing so. its nice to know who is checking this blog out, so please do comment at will.

tanuf and chedi

buenos dios:

i thought i would post early for this week because i teach many hours on saturday.
we have been hanging out with gus and stefania (a couple from the greater Toronto area) and have visited several places with them. here is a place very close to Nizwa (where we live) called Tanuf. there's a huge damn there, but the day we were there there was no water so it wasn't that exciting. here's a pic of sundi in her favorite hat, shirt and glasses.
we went to the nicest hotel in muscat for a breakfast buffet on gus' birthday. it was great. one of the best breakfasts thus far in my life, with not much scandal-to-do. here's a pic of sun and i on the beachfront property. far behind you can maybe see the weird chemical plant.
me on the same beach. if i ever record a solo album this would be one of the front runners for the cover.
k. that was one day.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

booking it


so. not much time to post or edit pictures, but we have a lot of cool ones from this past week.

a friend here is looking for book recommendations and asked for a top ten book list. i replied in kind, but couldn't hold to only ten. so here's the list(in "no particular order"):
anna karenina - tolstoy
old goriot - de balzac
the voyeur - robbe-grillet
notebooks of malte laurids brigge - rilke
america (the man who disappeared) - kafka
dubliners - joyce
memories of my melancholy whores - garcia marquez
farenheit 451 - bradbury
animal farm - orwell
the idiot - dostoevsky

the trial - kafka
the book of laughter and forgetting - kundera
of mice and men - steinbeck
dead souls - gogol
molloy, malone dies, the unnamable - beckett
cats cradle - vonnegut
mrs. dalloway - woolf
the beautiful and the damned - fitzgerald
story of the eye - bataille
sexus - miller

i will post again when i have time to edit pictures and the like.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

more goats and little to do


so the past week or so has not been very eventful. we're still waiting for our schedules and the like whilst watching smoke pass out of our mouths from the shisha houses we frequent.

the gym has been nice. i will post pictures of us working out when i can. that'll be a gas.

weather here is really starting to cool off. sundi sported goose bumps last night in Muscat. wow. well she does get cold pretty easy, but it was an event.

next week i will write and post about our favorite restaurant here. we call it the turkian restaurant because originally thats what the sign said, but its obviously turkish. they have the best bread ever there. weve been twoce this past week and it was excellent both times. during Ramadhan it was sad because they closed for renovations and the like, so we were shut out, despite checking almost every day to see if it was open again. yes, that is how we roll in nizwa.

pix this week:
1) livestock here is often transferred via pickup trucks. cows, goats, even camels. here's a little pic of some goats. sadly, we always see the camels when our camera is at home. moral? dont leave home without the camera...

2) the effects of intense sunlight on produce. well see you next saturday-ish. the publishing on saturday promise went to the wayside, but whatever...give or take a day, alright?


Friday, October 10, 2008

The Yaris

I said a while ago that I would post a picture of the rental, so here it is. This was taken on an outlook just outside Misfah.

Misfah II

Some more pictures from Misfah:


While we walked around we saw lots of kids talking to each other whilst hanging out by their windows. No worries, they’re safe.


Dan by the Falaj (Canal)


Sun by the Falaj

Misfah I


this past week we mostly chilled out and prepped for going back to work tomorrow. The week has been spent mostly reading and writing and the like. Little else has gone on. I caught most of goodfellas the other night on tv and was happy with that.

Traveling around with our little mp3 player, we have tried to listen to all “new” music and have taken a firm liking to beck’s latest “modern guilt,” despite weird hints of religious “undertunes.” Albert Hammond jr.’s first album has also been getting regular play, and sundi has taken a particular hating to several decemberists songs from “the crane wife.” I am in partial agreement on the hate, but a few of the songs are pure…

Sun finished off “Waiting” by ha jin this week and is pretty far into “the comedians” by graham greene. I am focusing still on “the curtain” by kundera and “six walks in the fictional woods” by umberto eco. Also, I randomly open Anna Karenina for some more of that. Something we didn’t mention in last weeks’ post was that when the albers-fulton clan visited last week they brought with them a great many books which I dropped at their abu dhabi residence on my visit in march. So now, we are not in want of reading material.

Ok. So on to the pictures of the week.

This is from the museum at Al Hoota cave, which isn’t far from here and looks pretty interesting. We booked an appointment to go on Wednesday morning and showed up on time, but were turned away at the door because the precipitation was too high. According to one of the workers at the cave, “You will die if you go inside. You can not breath in there. The percipitaiton is at 100%” So. My question is: isn’t 100% a flooded cave? If anyone out there can answer this id appreciate it. This picture shows some of the goods you can get in the museum. Sundi thought it too strange to not take a picture.

After being rejected from the cave we went to a nearby town called Misfah which is built into the side of a mountain. You can see hear a house literally built on top of natural rock formations.

Yet another angle inside the village. This one with a bridge between two houses.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

clouds in the hood

oman is beautiful. its hard to get a true feel for any place through pictures, but i thought id share a couple landscape shots to give some idea of what its like here.


this is from our kitchen window... maybe its hard to tell here, but the layers of mountains are fabulous...this area is called "falaj daris" meaning water canal ... something ... not sure right now what daris is ... will report later ... being in the foothills there is as close as ive come to a moonwalk ... well except mj's version ...


this was taken the other evening on the way back from muscat. for those of you who have made the journey you realize that the drive is just breathtaking. its really something and every small turn warrants a new gaze.

very nice

Saturday, October 4, 2008

trips two

dobry den:

Our school is located just outside a place called Birkat Al Mouz. In Arabic this roughly means: “pool of bananas.” The place was and is a banana plantation and settlements date back a long while. It’s a very charming little village and is shaded very nicely from banana and date trees making walks around and glances about pleasurable to all involved. We all went there twice during the visit, enjoyed the ruins, the falaj (water canal), and the local inhabitants who are extremely friendly and courteous.
Once again: some pictures.

first time we went josh and sam got involved in the falaj dipping and diving. It was great fun as you can see here some local boys chilling in the cool clean water flow.

the older settlement area is still inhabited in a few locations, but is mostly abandoned. Here are several frames as the clan ascends into the ruins for a peek around.

we hit the city during Eid and everyone was back from the city sporting their Ramadhan acquired duds and hanging with their families. Here, a few boys are more than happy to have their picture taken as long as they get to look and laugh at it afterwards.

Okay. So. that’s all for now. Sun and I have the following week off and are ready to start extensively using our gym memberships at the Golden Tulip hotel.

Until next time,
S & D

trips one


It has been a long and busy week. The Albers – Fulton clan descended on Nizwa for a four day trip and we went to several places we had never been and got lost a lot (mostly thanks to me), but in the end we saw a lot of cool stuff and had a cool time.

here are some images:
this is in a valley at the top of mount akhdar. I do not know much about the mount yet, but will be updating you as it is very close to our school and therefore we will definitely be returning. To go up the mountain you MUST have a 4wd. There is a police checkpoint to make sure you do have one. If you do not you can park and climb, but I would guess it would take weeks to ascend. The scope and size of the place are impossible, but to give you a feel, this image shows how some crops and the like are grown in the valleys in one small region of the mountain.

here, sun and the clan prepare to head off to the ruins in the background. Again, we have no idea how old or the history of this area as we just happened by it. there are thousands of such settlements all over Oman.

taken looking out from the ruins in picture one, here you can see another set of ruins off in the distance.

One of the coolest things that happened here was we bought pomegranates. Jabel (mountain) Al Akhdar is famous for its pomegranates, which ripen in September to early October. Yes we caught them perfectly in season. We were driving around looking fro some and were about to leave when we saw a bunch of Omani ladies carrying bags filled with them. We went to them and asked where we could get some, and then noticed that their bags were not filled with pomegranates at all but with sweets and drinks. Anyways, we were right in front of this woman’s house and we used the only Arabic we know (Hello…5? Pomegranate?) and she came back and gave us 10 pomegranates for 5 rial. Sweet. The coolest part of this is that in Arabic pomegranate is “Roman” which Sundi learned from Shamsa, a woman works in the office at school. Good work Sun!!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

on / at the weekend

last night we smoked shisha beside the beach at Qurum in Muscat and watched fishing boat lights twinkle at varying distances. it was nice. sushi buffet was had (quite decent sushi at that) and i had my first kimchi in months, which made me feel good. it wasnt as authentic as id like, but it was alright. the night finished with a couple games of bowling and with me being consistently the worst. i improved by one point from the first game, but was so far out it didnt matter. the second game "was rather pedestrian" compared to the first, and sun had a miracle strike followed by a miracle spare giving her a huge come from behind victory. it was sweet. shes cute when she bowls. cute when she does anything really. ok. ill save that kind of talk for later and elsewhere.
instead of randomly posting on this thing i have decided to pledge a weekly publishing. so, for the next while if you haven't done so, check in on saturdays and ill do my darndest to ensure that we'll have posted by then. if we take off somewhere for a short break (egypt we're looking in your direction), we'll let you know if we'll break from the blog as well.
not much else exciting to report. sun and i are now officially the CALL teachers at our school, which is good and bad as we can help each other prep a lot, but will have basically opposite schedules. so we'll see how that goes.
this coming week 4 dear friends of ours are coming from abu dhabi to visit so we're excited to eat, stink, be merry, and potentially even change some diapers with them. dont ask if you dont already know.
on the car front, we are now wavering towards the mitsubishi prado. its a little more rugged. well see. im going to haggle my head off at the dealers and see what theyll throw in.
ok. so. photo of the week is ... the view from our "backyard." not very glamorous, but thats what it is. the mountains in the distance are wonderful, but the trash in the foreground leaves much to be desired. note that the building on the left serves shisa to smoke and football (or as some of you demand - soccer) on the big screen. sadly, the shisha wasnt good the one time we went. im determined to go again because it is so close. itll be sad if we dont get to go back. theyre still smoothing out the edges, or, as i said in north america a lot, taking the edge on.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

on camping with goats


so. it is saturday morning, which is like monday morning here, and i sit listening to other teachers talk about countries i have and have not been to. earlier we had a really nice workshop on teaching grammar. a good day at work.

this past weekend was very refreshing and once again pushed us to buying an suv. we went through muscat into the mountain ranges surrounding the north eastern curve of oman. the valley picture below is an area in muscat called "ruwi" seen from the entry point into the mountain range. it took us a while to get there, but it was well worth it. it was very kind of gus and amanda (to be discussed later) to invite us.

the goat picture is from a village we drove through. there were at least 200 goats there. it was cool. also, we saw lots of mule-esque animals walking aroung freely.

we camped on the beach, swam by moonlight, ate good food, and camped all cozy and warm. a little too warm in the morning, but still nice. here are some pics. none of them really capture what id hoped, but they do get something:


the beach:

so. thats all for now. oh. we saw close encounters of the third kind and joe versus the volcano yesterday. they were pretty good.