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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How Did I End Up in Oman pt. 3: Abu Dhabi to Muscat

Our first sight as tourists in Oman was the police station after we had entered the country illegally and our driver was jailed.
People often ask Boxie and I how we could love so much in Oman compare to what we experienced in Abu Dhabi since we went through worse times in Muscat to be sure. This I will say, in Oman everything is genuine, every experience is real and raw. Life couldn't happen as it does here, anywhere else in the world. So, this post will document our crazy adventure, from the point of the night when we left Abu Dhabi [omigosh Boxie, what a TRIP] to that old traveller's adage, "You've never seen a country until you've seen its hospitals and its jails."
Gamboo3a collection on our bench in the Abu Dhabi shared flat, packing up for Oman
The reason we were leaving Abu Dhabi was we had finally found teaching jobs and one has to exit UAE to come back in on a worker's visa. We decided we'd stay with my mother in Muscat because it sounded like she could use some help packing up for a move back to the States since my stepfather's job term had ended.

Originally she had told us she had hired a driver who knew Abu Dhabi well who would pick us up, a cousin of a pre-Islam male friend of mine that my mother had kept in contact with while I obviously had not. He was Muslim. He totally got that. Anyways, so we waited for this driver to arrive with our friend G  and it kept getting later and later and G had to go home or the maids at K's place would lock her out. This was just after we had ordered food from a Sqeezy coffee shop where we'd decided last minute that we didn't want it delivered. I didn't eat anything but Boxie did. With diminishing phone credit I texted to inquire the whereabouts of our driver. AT THE BORDER.

That was okay, had the border been compact with traffic, but hours later, the reply was the same. STILL AT BORDER.

Meanwhile, Boxie had alarmingly passed out and the Philipinos in our apartment wanted to take her to the hospital. The trouble was carrying her there. Someone at the coffee shop had put roofies (date rape drug) into her food. SOOOOOOOOOO glad I'd gotten an apple and an energy drink myself or else no one would have been alive enough to deal with the chaos of the missing driver.

Boxie recovered 6 hours later and our driver was still AWOL. Finally got a text that read COMING.

Two hours after that the driver was trying to find our very obvious landmark of a street in Abu Dhabi.

Which rang suspicious. What happened to knowing UAE inside and out like the back of your hand hmmm?

My mother solved that little mystery by texting me with a great BRILLIANT surprise of her's: cousin and MY PRE_ISLAM guy friend (NEVER BOYFRIEND, BTW to make that 100% clear) were coming to pick us up.

Which was really not okay with me, ask Boxie, I did a royal insane flip out. A stranger would have been totally okay to deal with but dealing with an ex-guy friend is harder even if he's muslim and all. I mean wearing niqab in front of some Muslim guy I never hung out with in jeans or saw me in a bathing suit at the oil company's compound facilities when I went swimming as a non-Muslim fourteen year old is easy. With an ex guy friend? Yeah, TOTALLY awkward.

Since my mother never liked my husband and on purpose disregarded ever fact made known to her about dealing with the opposite sex in Islam, she just thought this was BRILLIANT. But then, this is the woman who posts pictures of me sans hijab on the net who I can't even add on facebook.

We were stuck, so what was, was. I texted the # of our driver, the cousin, and learnt that he was not coming at all. Which made me ever so mad at my mother for having lived in a Muslim majority country for years but HAVING NO UNDERSTANDING OF OUR ISLAMIC CULTURE WHATSOEVER despite that.

Anyways, he finally found a landmark so I ran down to meet him at like, 1 am in the morning or something. I was wearing niqab but he recognized me. When we arrived at our flat Boxie had to practically be carried down by the super sweet Philipinos and we said our goodbyes to Abu Dhabi, intending a speedy return.
On the way, having not slept for over 48 hours, I got insanely high on energy drinks. When Boxie was in a better state (this was come and go) she took the supply away from me since I'd already had too much.

THE RIDE WAS AWKWARD BEYOND BELIEF.  Boxie broke the awkwardness by being her super cute and funny self. Like I said, dealing with a stranger in a non-maharam situation seems to flow much easier.

Coming into Oman we asked my old friend if we needed to pay for our exit stamps. He said no we didn't. The border guards saw an Omani ID card and two veiled women in the backseat. We went through as GCC nationals, which meant, we entered the country illegally. OMAN's border sent us back, which meant it was much later than even the definition of late it was already, when we learned what had happened to our original [paid] driver, the cousin.

He'd been arrested for something do with bank loans so his cousin took us in an attempt to bail him out of jail.
So sadly, lol, Boxie's first sights of Oman as a tourist, was the jail at the police station:
Boxie, fading in and out of knowing what's going on after being drugged in UAE
At the police station we were fed halal hot dogs and Omani coffee. So that was even more caffeiene for me!

Around this time my mother phoned all worried, and when I tried to explain to her the situation she said to me "try to give me someone to talk to that doesn't sound like a crack head."

Which meant, I was SUPER jittery on my overdose of energy drinks. So I handed the phone off to Boxie, who handed the phone off to the cousin, who didn't want to tell us all WHY HE'D been arrested, SO he handed it off to his cousin, who got into trouble with my mother.

This, ya'll is why I can safely say, I HAVE MORE THAN LEARNT on why we should not travel without maharams ladies.
Us girls photographing the sights to be had at the police station. Parking lot. Whoopee!
Mosque veiwed through a barbed wire fence. Pretty awesome too. I think sitting on the stoop of the police station's steps awaiting the fate of our original driver, is when I first turned to Boxie and said, "well, it can't get any worse right?"

ANOTHER lesson learnt. NEVER SAY THAT!
The road to Muscat from Northern Buraimi up until Sohar looks pretty much like the photograph above. Not a great deal to see on the main highway.

Boxie, got all weird and druggy again for a while as we drove by an Omani woman collecting firewood and carrying it on her head.

A few minutes later she said to the driver and I (which made us laugh uncontrollably): "I wish I saw the woman with the hat."

Which means, she did see the woman, couldn't remember, and didn't exactly know what she saw.

After that we finally made it to Muscat, we made a short visit with my old friend's family and Grandma M, drank Vimto, apologized profusely for not understanding spoken Arabic, and then met my mother.
Beautiful veiw of the Straight of Hormuz from my old neighborhood in the oil company's family housing
Who seemed super nice to Boxie and not at all like the crazy psycho woman my father and I had made her out to be. I told her to wait a week for this all to go to hell.
My infamous street (infamous to the oil company's security guards as you will soon learn)
Anyways, having safely to Oman, we settled into my mother's craft room. My setpfather was already IN the hospital when my mother got a call that he'd had another heart attack. Boxie and I stayed at the house that night and went for an eventful walk around the old 'hood [Boxie: skittles, meow].
Outside the hallway of our room in my mother's house, neither Boxie nor I pictured.
Anyways life went on as per usual. Boxie's next site of Oman was a hospital. Yes, so we fulfilled that old travelling adage. There, my stepfather sadly died.

And then, later that night, having drunk wine with prescription anti-depressents my mother attacked me, and tried to choke me, and when Boxie couldn't get her off she tried to run for help. I managed to escape to our room and lock myself in as my mother was hitting me with a giant metal spoon and when I took that away, she went for a kitchen knife (which of course she doesn't recall---to this day she believe that I threatened her with it instead).

I wasn't dressed in hijab so I did best I could and managed to escape with my suitcase of clothes (not my money or passport which was in a purse left in my mother's room. Boxie only had her purse.

Boxie had found help and they arrived. The security guards of the company, having dealt with my mother before, believed us in what had happened and offered to help us find another place to stay.

But then the Omani police came and took us to the Qurum police station when an officer promised us a female office would come in the morning to take us to our mother's house to get our passports but in the meantime we should go with him to his house.

Which didn't ring legit so I lied and said my friend was coming to get us. Which was not true. In terror I'd phoned the pre-Islam friend but he was asleep.

While I went to the bathroom in the station Boxie was molested by the police officer and he tried to kiss her. So us two girls stuck together like glue after that, and after our experience in Abu Dhabi with the Emirati police didn't trust saying anything to anyone there, we just stuck in the mess hall where all the guys were eating.

Finally, pervy creepo officer gave up on us and left, and nearing afternoon the net day, a Dr. from the hospital where my stepdad died came to help us. THEN we reported it the police commander in charge of the station and creepo pervo cop was jailed and Boxie was given options for what she wanted his punishment to be. TOTALLY different to our experience in Emirates. The word of even tourists was taken over a local Omanis. Wow.

Anyways, we lived a short time in Wadi Kabir, then in a hotel in Mutrah (which got a bit awkward when an old Omani-Lawati friend of mine wanted me to convert to be Shia simply because I look Persian in abaya-ras and marry her 80 year old Sunni uncle) until my pre-Islam guy friend found us a place to stay in Madinat Qaboos (little Britain of Oman) as roommates to a friend of his friends that he didn't know at all, an Indian girl who had apprently just converted to Islam.

Sounded ideal.

Things couldn't get any worse right? [Boxie wanted to kill me when I said that].
Veiw of our quiet little MQ neighborhood which was so Western I could rollarblade without stares
Life here might of been perfect, but oddly enough money kept suspciously being stolen and when Aalia came to stay she got blamed since things had also gone missing in Abu Dhabi (her two year old had a habit of throwing things out the window and one maid there stole) but then my money went missing when Aalia wasn't there as well and I was later to learn that our Indian roomie charged us double the rent and five times the cost of the utilities from the Jordanian woman who owned the place. We didn't know that AT THE TIME THOUGH, and this is where we lived and started to see the real Oman (beyond the police stations and hospitals).
dining area
horribly ugly majlis couches and Boxie playing darts with her rubber chicken
horribly tiny cook prep area veiwed from the couches
kitchen
cooking on a hot plate---a totally new experience for me---on that I did not cherish.
shared meals ala Omani style
example of average meal
bathroom/laundry room
looking back at the majlis from the hall
looking up the hallway (where we often dried our laundry) from the doorway of the room Boxie and i shared
the room Boxie and I totally got ripped off for the day we arrived
One of the earliest things we did was meet our friend G from Abu Dhabi and go swimming at the Oman Dive Center (a private beach where you pay to get in):
The dive center beach:
Me in a shayla borrowed from Boxie, and my own earrings, with an abaya from tailor shop in Sheikh Zayed Souq AE
One of the great things about the dive center beach is that since you have to pay to go there, you don't get those creepy guys who like to stare at women in bathings suits (although I did swim in my abaya).
Veiw of the dive center after swimming out:
Veiws:
End coming from Abu Dhabi saga. Up next, what made us decide to stay in Oman.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Salam

Im just a regular reader of ur blog and have a few questions...
What made you take pictures throughout your journey of things like the kitchen and bathroom? Did you always intend on writing about your travels at a later point in life?
Im loving these posts and I have to say Boxie sounds like so much fun (rubber chicken and darts lol) and must be a good friend of urs.

happy blogging

xx

Pixie said...

XX anon: Wa alaykom e salaam ramatullahi wa barakato,

LOL, not really. At the time, I wouldn't have had the clear state of mind with all that was happening to have been able to explain the life then that lead to the life now.

All the photos were taken by Boxie and were just things that interested us or that we wanted to show to our people back in Canada to show how we were living and what we were doing.

Yes, mashaAllah Boxie is sUCH a character and I mISS HER TOO MUCH.

To you too, inshaAllah.

Boxie said...

I miss you too. I will soon have to come and drink arwa lol. Get myself back into shape :P. I still have that chicken, It scared the flufernutter out of me the other day when cleaning. I left it under a pile of clothing. You can find more of my random picture taking on my photo blog http://boxiesweirdandwackyworld.blogspot.ca/ Yep I am pimping out my blog, hope you don't mind :)