So, on the long weekend, I was invited to an Omani women's only party in Shatti [oh dear, I guess I will be giving away my identity now, but there's still 2 other OPNOs for ya'll to work on sooooo], and as per usual, me and a friend took a drive up to Nakhl. [I love Nakhl]. Actually, all OPNOs that remain in Oman love Nakhl.
Anyways, I am TOTALLY thinking about buying an old historical house on Nakhl and restoring it with the help of an Omani friend, so really, the trip was to see what was available, and how much it would cost as a reno project. You can buy the place for 5000 OMR, but I mean, if the walls are going to cave in on you, and you need to out in elecricity and bathrooms, it is gonna be a little more than that, like another 10 000 OMR at least, and if the walls are gonna cave, you need that 10, 000 to start.
So, we bought mishkeek (grilled lamb on a skewer) by the fort like we always do at magraib time if we are there, parked at the hot springs, and wandered up the river (found a donkey and some Omani men praying magraib), and then turned back to the food shops. Behind them is a road to the village, and walking through here really isn't a touristy thing to do. They don't take buses of tourists through the old part of the village, but me and my friend were on the hunt for old houses. So we found some, which were really nice and in good shape, but we also got lost, and two Omani boys had to drag up back to the car park. Because we are sooooo awesome, and well, my friend has the worst memory in the world, and a bad habit that often results in getting lost of wanting to find "a different way" back. Most villages in Oman have just one road through them so the different way back? Doesn't exist!!!!!!
At least we saw alot of frogs, and my abaya got all muddy, and we nearly fell into the river:D
To get to Nakhl, my friend and I noted, there is no sign for the turn off on the road there, but there is a thing that looks like a little buse shelter, and a government building with a solely in Arabic sign, before one other turn off. I will take a picture for you all next time I go. This is where you turn to get to Nakhl. And you keep on driving straight, straight, straight through the town past the fort and shops, and through a winding stone fenced road of farms to the hot springs. At which point, there will actually BE a sign. Saying, well, you made it. This is it.
Well, this also happened to be the night of the party in Shatti. I was told the same day that it was a barbecue, and women only, so, you know, I dressed for a barbecue, the way I would back in the West. I wore a cute denim skirt, and a red blouse top, and cute sandals, nothing fancy, since, well, we'd be barbecuing right? My abaya was the same one I wore to Nakhl, and it is an abaya that cost only 7 rials, plain black, three snap Islamiyia style.
For all those curious about Omani women's parties.
At Omani women's barbecue parties, the Omani women sit in lovely designer casual wear on bright cushions or plastic blow up chairs on carpets spread out on the lawn, with their hair all perfect under christmas lights strewn across the villa's walls so no one can see under, and a very strange English hip-hop meets Hilary Duff with Arabic music thrown in CD plays, and the maids all barbecue. This is a wear your most stylish abaya barbecue.
As I come in I hide my purse, because it is not Chanel, Gucci, or Louis Vuitton, and it is kind of dusty and scratched from my adventure in Nakhl. Girl's arrive in blinged out designer abayas, and to be honest, mine is the plainest one there. I have my fair share of glam abayas, but where I have moved, out of Muscat, nobody wears abayas like these friends of mine, and I'd be the odd one out if I dressed like I like to (like these girls and women). But with abaya off, and wearing clothes from a Western store unavailable in the GCC, no one knows that my sandals are not haute couture, or that my blouse isn't. My skirt could be Zara. And honestly, while these girls have money, they aren't snobs. They don't care.
Women go to certain carpets, based on what set they are in. There are the preteen girls in a gaggle together, the stylish young mothers with their babies all cooing together, a very glam Arabic speaking set that say hi to me in Arabic, and i sit with the multi-lingual set, where French, Arabic, and English are spoken, and people talk about Univeristy or travel, or my story of how I am in Oman. My friend R arrives and she alone laughs at my dress and abaya, and from her, it's okay, because she always teases me. "You're spending too much time in the village" she purred. I probably was. I was getting quieter, and listening more.
We drank Sun Top and Pepsi, and ate h'ordoerves, and then I wanted to take off my tights because it was too warm for tights, and all the bathrooms were full, so I was shown to another bathroom beyond the women-only section of the house, where I could change. I was left there, and I didn't take my purse (it being hidden and all due to it's lack of a good name or a material of quality).
Well, I guess a maid from the men's side of the house wanted to make sure no one used this part of the house in mistake so she locked the door to the rooms I was in from the outside.
So when I went to get out I was trapped. I banged on the door till my fists were red, and I screamed for help, and the houses in Shatti are serriously so big that no one could hear me. So I climbed the pipe in the bathroom to a window above that opened to the party outside and yelled help out there.
Thankfully, a maid heard me and came and got me. I spent one hour in the makeup and no one thought to look for me, because some women paint themselves white with makeup and it takes about an hour to put that stuff on anyways.
When I went to find the maid from the host to thank her, after we had the barbecue and awesome desert (real strawberry shortcake), the host didn't know the maid.
Apparently, if you are going to an Omani woman's barbecue in Shatti, you bring your maid. Go figure.
So leaving the party, my driver was too embarrassed by his car to park close to the house near everyone's Porsches. So I walked down the road, and asked him why, and he said, "The neighbors were looking at me funny, like why is this car in their neighborhood." I laughed, and went home. Even Shatti is an adventure for me, R would tell you.
On another day I went to Bait Naman in Barka, cuz I'd never been there, at the recomendation of an Omani family who owns the helwa (Omani sweet) factory there, and a few other places. They fed me 5 kinds of helwa before that (the only one I find tolerable is the abyad one with no milk), sprayed me with 5 kinds of perfume and two kinds of oud, and stuck bukhour up my dress, and then I headed out to Bait Naman, a 400 year old fortified house in Oman used for political meetings and such. It had some antiques inside, and alot of pigeons on the roof. Some of the antiue khanjars were nice. I didn't spend alot of time there, but there was an Omani family being given a personal tour of the house in Arabic by the caregiver.
After that, I think I slept. So, those are the highlights of this OPNO's long weekend.