Samail to Muscat

Trip Start Jun 13, 2010
Trip End Jul 17, 2010

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Friday, June 18, 2010

    Wow, what a long sleep. I did wake up around 6:00 to turn the computer off (I left it on upload videos which takes forever). But then I went right back to bed and did not get up until 10:00. Hilal made sure everyone in the house was quiet for my sleep which is not easy to do with 6 kids. I appreciated that but told him not to let me sleep that long (I can always sleep at home when I am not traveling). Right as I woke up Kamla right away brought me a breakfast bread with cream and honey with some Mango juice. Then I played with the kids some more while reading and doing pictures on the computer. This continued into the afternoon as Hilal had to take care of some business with his farm & construction (he is always busy doing something).     
    Around 4:00 we went off to Muscat for the night. It was only around 30 min away. First we went to an electronics shop at a small indoor mall. Hilal wanted to unlock the iPhones I had gotten him back in the States. He knew the owner so we went to the back and had some tea. The owner, and Indian, had been in Oman for over 20 years. While waiting I walked around this small two story mall. The main shop I went into was a tourist souk(market) with all kinds of souvenirs of Oman. The main things are the curved knives called khanjars. Also popular in Oman is gold and silver and rugs. Some of the shop keepers tried to get me to come in but there was no way I am buying anything since I still have just under 4 weeks left. I'll do my shopping toward the end of the trip. I then met a Palestinian friend of Hilal’s (he has so many friends) and he offered me a drink at a coffee shop (since I don’t drink coffee or smoke the shisha, I always order a fresh squeezed juice – usually lemon). We talked about families and the politics of the region and the US – very smart guy with pretty good English. He happened to own the DVD & record store in the mall and he had all the latest movies and music. 
    After shopping, Hilal checked me into a nice hotel near the Grand Mosque of Muscat. I then met another brother of Hilal and he took me on a small tour of Muscat. It was getting dark by now so the tour was just a drive around with a stop at the main beach. Now you will not find too many sunbathers on these beaches. The men might wear shorts and t-shirts and play beach soccer but many of the women still are dressed from head to toe walking around with their friends and talking on cell phones. Sometimes you can see their shoes and pants with many of them wearing tennis shoes and blue jeans underneath their robes. This area of Muscat is called Qurm. This is the rich part of Muscat will all the 4 and 5 star hotels, expensive homes, and embassies. 
    We drove to the Intercontinental to watch the US play Slovenia in the World Cup. They had it playing on this supersized screen inside a tent with AC (much needed when the nighttime temps. around in the upper 80s.) The cost to get in was 2 Omani Reals apiece which was around 5 dollars – kind of expensive in my book but it was the intercontinental and it was a US World Cup match. We got in just after halftime and the US was losing 2 – nil (there goes their World Cup chances!!!) We got to sit on bean bags while watching which was pretty cool. Just a few min. after halftime the US scored their first goal and I went mad running around – by the sound of things there were not too many US fans there. The US scored again about 30 min latter and I went mad again for the tie. Then we scored the winner but a stupid ref from Mali (first time at World Cup) called off the play and gave no reason. But a tie is better than a loss. After the game we hung out for awhile as they cleared the bean bags and chairs and made a small soccer pitch. On came a couple of local teams playing 5 man football on the small field. It was pretty fun to watch as the old expats lost 7-2 to some Omani youths. The second game was a real nail bitter as a team with US jerseys (more Omani youths) tied the other team 2-2. After that we decided to have some dinner
    I picked a place out of my Lonely Planet book called Automatic which is a Lebanese restaurant near the hotel. I had a shwarma plate, taboule, and another lemon juice. This filled me to the brim as it was some fine grub. I’m always surprised how good Lonely Planet restaurants are. Then he took me by the Sultan Qaboos Mosque close by which was all lit up. We pulled over the side of the highway and I started to snap some shots. Then suddenly a CRASH!!! Metal on metal a few times over. For a split second I thought someone had crashed into Hilal’s brother. I looked around and it was someone just a few meters from our car. I don’t know why the first car stopped to suddenly to make the other cars crash into him but I did not wait to find out. We took off to my very nice hotel. 
    I paid for one hour of computer time to upload some pics, did some surfing, and then cheered on Algeria in their 0-0 tie (I usually cheer for England when not against the US. But I needed England to tie or lose to give the US a chance to move on. After the game I took a much needed shower and hit the sack.
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