I've just returned this morning from six days in stunning, sunny Oman, where I delighted in summery weather and plenty of its perfect complement, minted lemonade. The blue skies, pinkish ochres of the desert, gleaming white dishdashas, and brilliant splashes of crimson, fuchsia and emerald on the scarves and dresses of some women (others were head to toe in inky black)— was nearly too much to bear for a colour-starved girl coming from a dismal, wintry Istanbul.
We arrived in Muscat around six in the morning on a Saturday. It was already warm, and my wool coat was beginning to itch. Blinking in the sun, a bit dizzy from our red-eye flight, we waited for our friend Gil, who generously offered us a home during our stay. Once we dropped off our bags and changed into something more appropriate for the increasing heat, Pedro and I headed down to a little nearby beach in search of Sooty Gulls and whatever else we might find.
Sooties we found, casually strolling in the sun, competing with House Crows for dismembered crabs. I kicked off my shoes and dreamily followed them to the shore, where the Arabian Sea spit out shells of all colours mixed with chunks of sanded green glass. I was six again, brown-skinned and curious, my toes coated in fine pebbles and glittering with nacre— my mother collecting shards of coral and cowries nearby. This little beach was so much like the beaches from my early childhood in Dubai, before it was Dubai. A desert sweeping into the sea— the waves and laughter of gulls, its only sounds.
Salaam means peace in Arabic.
Oman was beginning to feel so very good.