Friday, January 27, 2012

Hiking in Oman

 We took a scenic trek through three villages that cling to the mountainside on Jebel Akhtar.  Six-year-old Meme' and three-year-old Majd trudged along with the rest of us without ever fussing--they're nimble hikers!

 Older buildings are of clayish brick chinked with mud. They appear ancient but so would any building built of clay and mud--I don't think they are particularly old.

Lovely mosque in second village.

A sample of the hundreds of stairs along the trail.

 Villagers have terraced plots of land out of the mountainside for their many fruit trees and vegetables. This hillside will be lush and beautiful come spring.


 Irrigation ditches thread their way between the plots.

When we reached the top of the trail an Omani fellow kindly called up his brother to drive us back to our car. 15 minutes later he was inviting us to his home for tea. We had to decline, but he promised to visit the Palmers when he comes to UAE.

On the way home we stopped at these Beehive tombs which are thousands of years old. No one is sure who built them. Sorry I don't have a better photo of the setting because it is absolutely stunning--sheer towering mountains on several sides, a rocky wide wadi on another.

Fantastic Oman

We spent three days camping/hiking/sightseeing through spectacular Oman (we being the Palmers, Carolyn and me). The dramatic landscape looks much like the American Southwest--a mixture of southern Utah, California, Nevada, and Arizona. Rocks abound.

First stop was to attend church in the local branch in Muscat, after which we headed down the coast to find a place for the night. Our free campsite was situated above a lovely little cove on the Indian Ocean.

Sunrise from our tent.

Majd showing off her breakfast cookies.

A lovely beach.

Right out of National Geographic . . .

We hiked up this wadi and found a beautiful warm pool for swimming.

Omani boys are eager for chewing gum, but not chocolate.

Second night's campsite high on Jebel Akhdar. It was so cold and windy that we all huddled in the same tent for warmth. The wind raged all night long.

Next morning we awoke to this stunning sight:

Next post will cover the hike we took in this area.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

In Sharjah, UAE

 At the local park

I've been in Sharjah an entire week and am finally getting around to posting a little about what we've been doing. Much of my activities revolve around the adorable grand-girls, Meme and Majd. I have walked them to school, picked them up from school, played with them at home and on the playground, watched their ballet classes, read them stories, told made-up stories and stories about their mama's childhood, put them to bed, and watched a nature documentary with them. We've had a wonderful time and by the time I leave, I will have fit in about a year of grannying in just a few weeks.

Yesterday we played on the beach at the Arabian Gulf. One day we went to Dubai Mall to look at the aquarium, watch the water show, and eat at what must be the world's most extensive food court (I had Indian kabobs served with 3 varieties of rice). We have been to the fantastic Islamic Museum and the rustic old souk.
Meme window shopping at the candy store at Dubai Mall

Outside the Burj Khalifa, world's tallest building (not in photo)

The Arabian Gulf

Without the grand-girls Carolyn, Bridget and I went to the Al Noor Mosque in downtown Sharjah. I have been to mosques in other Muslim countries, and in beautiful downtown Beaverton. This one was a unique experience as it involved a one-hour class about Islam. The woman who presented it spoke excellent English and obviously loved her religion and wanted us to appreciate it too, and we do.

We were required to wear a hijab and abaya, as seen below.
Here is the presentation.  At this point they were explaining the various types of clothing worn by Muslims.

Some Muslim women wear this extra piece on their faces--I've seen them in the souks but couldn't figure out what it was without staring at the women.  It protects their nose and cheeks from sunburn.

That's me on the left trying out the more conservative form of dress.  I was instantly overheated.

Ceiling of the mosque

Carolyn, the presenter, Bridget, me