Our first day in Oman was a day of first impressions and general excitement.
After waking up a little late and enjoying a breakfast at the hotel, we lugged our baggage onto bus to drive to the Amideast center. It was nice to finally see Oman in broad daylight, which is definitely pretty bright in terms of actual sun exposure. From the highway through airport heights you see faint outlines of the Hajar Mountains off to the distance. There is quite a bit of construction here, as Muscat is definitely still expanding. The city itself is very sprawling, so driving is just a part of the daily routine
At Amideast we were greeted by all of the friendly Oman staff. Our day was full of some orientation stuff and lots of Q and A time. We even had our first Arabic class! The amid east facilities are very new since they moved to the new location just a little less than a year ago, but everything is beautiful. As a little sentiment America, each of the rooms is named after a US state. Unfortunately Massachusetts was not included but the northeast was well represented by New Hampshire and New York.
For lunch we attended our first traditional Omani meal. I believe the restaurant served a mix of traditional Omani and Yemenite food. Typically in restaurants like this the tables are usually for men socializing, families and women, for their comfort and privacy, prefer to eat family style.
In this seating arrangement your party is given a small partitioned little room with a carpet in side. People will sit on the floor and share large platters of rice served with some protein on top. We had some fish, lamb, and chicken. Everything was very flavorful and seasoned with lots of cloves, but to my surprise was not super spicy. Usually each guest will have their section of the communal rice dish and peal off meat as they wish. One of my greatest challenges was eating rice with my hands, which in fact is the ultimate feat of agility.
To acquire this skill one must squeeze the rice in the palm of their hand to firm it up a little, while using the thumb as a utensil. We also had a delicious meat broth of sorts, and Yemenite honey bread.
Later that day we got ready to meet our host families, at a local banquet hall in Chuwair near city center. It was really great to finally meet them in person. After a brief introduction and an intense game of charades, we drove back to their house for the rest of the evening!
More to come soon!