Just as I was starting to think I should have been studying Hindi in preparation for this trip, I discovered the treasure trove of Muscat’s taxi drivers! It is almost worth the cost of the ride just for the language practice and tutorials.
We got a gem tonight on the way to the souk. He has provided taxi services for 20 years and is a natural encourager and teacher. A woman from our small town had taken a cruise, which stopped a day in Muscat – I spoke with her a couple of months ago. After touring the Middle East, what did she come back raving about? Her taxi driver who drove her all over as she travelled as a single woman alone. He brought her home and his wife and children made her feel like part of their family for the evening. Muscat’s unsung heroes!
Our destination for the night was the souk and dinner. There is something about the colors and aromas that mellow me quickly out. A spice vender sold me frankinscence – for myself, I want to bring home gold, frankinscence and myrrh. Knowing I couldn’t ship my purchases home with household goods at the end of a military tour put a real cramp in my buying!
A different gem of a taxi driver earlier in the day had recommended a restaurant that serves Omani food. We dined there this evening and loved it. We were served frankinscence water while mulling over the menu. We shared two different traditional foods, which were both delicious. Then the server brought us a dish of dates. This date stuff is going to have to stop or I will gain a ton, but they are so marvelously good. I think I read somewhere that a man traveling by camel received all the nutritional value he needed from only 12 dates per day. I could have kept a man alive with the dates I have eaten since our plane landed in Muscat today!
Then, as we left the restaurant, a man sprinkled our hands with rosé water. This is truly a magical place. Earlier, while eating we heard the evening call to prayer from several mosques. I made a recording, but my mullah had a frog in his throat and kept coughing. I will try to get a better recording tomorrow. It was very moving to listen to as the lights below glittered and we looked out on the waters toward the Sultan’s yacht. Very satisfying evening.