Oman - Week 5
Wanna know one of the best ways to start off your week?
Go ride a camel.
On Sunday, Jill and I did a bunch of spontaneous things with our language partner and her brother:
1. Saw all of Ibri from the Ibri Hill
2. Chugged steaming-hot ginger chai karek
3. Attempted dune bashing and failed because our four-wheel drive didn't work
4. Went to a camel farm, rode camels bare-back (and I got as close as possible to being bucked off without actually being bucked off)
5. Saw a real honey hive that was swarming with hundreds of bees
6. Ate strange fruit from trees
Getting up on a camel is one of the most awkward experiences I have had. They don't get up in one fluid motion, so you feel like you're going to fall right off while the one half of their body is moving. However, I found getting off the camel to be much more exciting. My camel was getting aggravated by another camel and started making bucking-like motions (can camels even buck? Idk). Two men were trying to calm it down, and this is when I told myself, "You are going to be thrown from this camel."
I was bracing myself for hitting the ground when all of a sudden the camel kneeled, I jumped off, it ran away in a huff. Jill and I died laughing.
Maybe we won't be the world's next best camel jockeys after all.
On Monday, we took a trip to the empty quarter as a group. This consisted of tumbling over sand dunes, eating sand, and a whole lot of staring off into the infinite distance. I never really pictured the desert as a beautiful place before this, but when I saw how this sand sea goes on forever and absolutely magnifies the sky, I couldn't get enough of it.
And oh, the stars.
They had just started coming out from behind the clouds while we were having our picnic on the sand and I couldn't take my eyes away. This is why I'm super pumped to camp out under the stars on our desert excursion this weekend.
I WILL see a shooting star, even if I have to keep my eyes peeled all night (but really though, how much sleep am I actually going to get in a desert, with my friends, under millions of stars).
Duh duh duh DUH.
This is where the week gets super exciting, because Jill, Catelin, and I traveled to Dubai all by ourselves.
Mom, if you're reading this, please don't freak out.
And Dad, you can be proud that for once in my life I was not directionally challenged and we navigated the city like pros.
We got on the bus like last week (except it was 1:15 a.m. instead) and we road the 5 hours to Dubai.
We got there at 5:45 and decided to spend the day at the beach. And it's a good thing we decided to go in the morning, because it took us about 2 hours to get there on a highly crowded city bus.
BUT, we got there eventually, and a few hours relaxing on the beach are just what we needed to recover from another week of Arabic. We sat in the sand, got awkward sunburns, and occasionally forced ourselves to get in the cold water.
That night we went to the Dubai Mall to eat and watch the light show.
We were blown away.
We got off the train and saw a massive crowd of people in the mall, and we were all like, "Is today a national holiday?" We had never seen such a large crowd of people at a mall before.
We held hands (yes, it was so crowded that this was a necessary action) and made our way to the fountain, where we found even more people. Putting two and two together, we realized that all of the people were there for the light show.
I had dreamt of how beautiful this fountain would be underneath the Burj and the Dubai sky, but wow oh wow, was I starstruck.
The three of us just sat in silence (probs with mouths wide open) as the instrumental music played and awakened the water and lights to dance into the night.
What makes this water show even better?
The fact that we watched it while eating fancy food from a fancy restaurant on the cutest little dock I've ever seen.
When we went to Dubai the first time, I told Jill and Catelin that we would come back and watch the light show and eat on the little dock. We had to wait to get a spot outside (we thought this would just be a normal table), but as the hostess weaved us through the restaurant, we realized that we were going to eat on THE dock (this is the adorable moment when Jill grabbed my hand and squealed because she was so excited).
I may or may not be a prophet for predicting this magical moment.
We ordered food we couldn't pronounce, watched the light show, and laughed like three giddy American girls who were waaay out of their element.
Yep, it was magical.
It only continued the next day as we toured the biggest flower garden I've ever seen. The Dubai Miracle Garden is literally a garden at the edge of Dubai, aka smack-dab in the desert. I didn't even feel like I was in Dubai or the desert or the middle east.
Our Dubai adventures came to an end in the most exciting way possible--we missed our bus (kinda).
We took a taxi to the place where our bus was waiting the last time we went to Dubai, which was in a big parking lot in front of a hotel, and surprise, it wasn't there. We attempted to ask a man where our bus was, but he didn't speak English, so we went to the hotel and asked some people, and they didn't understand which bus we were trying to find.
So, we awkwardly power-walked with our backpacks along the streets, getting strange looks and probably looking like crazed tourists. Until...
Jill remembered we had called the bus company one night and still had the number in her phone. I called the number, got another number from a guy that didn't work, and repeatedly kept trying to reach someone who knew where our bus was, all while we were walking the streets, thinking, "That might be our bus, or maybe that one..."
Miraculously, we got the number of our bus driver, and he told Jill on the phone that he had already left, but he was coming back for us in 20 minutes. We were to wait with 5 Omani men by a footbridge.
This is where we freaked out a bit. Praise the Lord in Heaven for this miracle! The odds of us tracking down our bus, and then it coming back for us were slim-to-none.
We then did another round of awkward power-walking/running down the streets to the footbridge, but alas, we could not find the 5 Omani men. Time was a-ticking so Catelin and I scurried over the footbridge to the other side, to ask some Omani-looking men if they were also waiting for the bus to Salalah.
Well, once again, the man we asked did not speak English, so he stopped some random guy walking by and asked him where the bus to Salalah stopped. This random guy happened to know exactly where this bus stopped, and pointed to the other side of the street, where Jill was waiting.
We ran back over the bridge, backpacks flapping, and asked the group of 5 guys who didn't look Omani if they were waiting for the same bus. Well, joke's on us, the 5 non-Omani looking guys were actually Omani.
We got on the bus.
We got home.
What a weekend!