This past week has been loaded with new places, new people, and new and improved perceptions. What is not new is the number of bad puns I try to make in a week. You’ll see what I mean…
Oman is a country with many kinds of people, pathways, and shops. What it does not have, however, is a social atmosphere that surrounds drinking, as it is illegal for alcohol to be sold within the state. I have, nonetheless become addicted to another substance: juice. Rather than asking a friend out to coffee like I would at Hope, I find myself asking “Juice anyone?” at least three or four times a day. Pomegranate, kiwi, watermelon, banana, you name it, I’m pretty sure Oman has a juice for that!
One of our favorite places to go for a quick bite of shawarma–a traditional sandwich made of chicken, lettuce, and sauce rolled up in a piece of naan or pita—has endless options of juice along with a meal. On our first night, I tried spicy lemon-mint juice and cannot get enough. As a result of returning for more, we have met the two men that run the restaurant and they have become quite accustomed to seeing our faces. The shop is right on the harbor and next to the Souq – a large shopping market in Mutrah.
While I sit and sip, it’s fun to watch taxi drivers greet incoming tourists coming off their cruise liners. One man continuously imitates Lionel Richie, “Hello! Is it me you’re looking for?” and shakes hands with visitors hoping to earn a few Rials (Omani currency). Stray cats run in and out of the Souq and seagulls scoop down into the water. The men at the shop are always smiling and as I slurp down the last of my juice, a small plate of dates always promptly arrives on the table.
Wait a second, dates? Juice and dates? I’ve consumed more than enough dates just from being offered some by waiters, shop owners and on excursions throughout the city. Omani’s have given so many things to me from endless chai tea and samosas to sticky, honey smothered dates. The trickiest part is trying to eat the date with one hand – let me know when you master that one.
By now the shop owners know me well and as a result, last Thursday I went home smiling with a plate of dates carefully wrapped up just for me. Before I left, I promised my new friends to return for juice and shawarma soon – a date I fully intend to keep.