Saturday, December 3, 2016

Living in Small Al Batinah Towns, like Barka and Al Mussanah

We were recently asked to write a post about life in Al Mussanah. Now none of the OPNO bloggers have actually ever lived in Al Mussanah, but at the start of my married life I did live in a one bedroom walled-in style house with a small courtyard yard in the middle of a farm in Barka.

My Omani husband has the fondest memories of this little house and the simple life in Barka. Basically we sat in the courtyard of that house and drank fresh mint tea every day. The weather was mostly nice. Life was simple, but cheap.

Al Mussanah is definately a similar little town, about 5-10 minutes away from Barka on the highway given traffic conditions.  I have a few Omani friends who have goregous farms with swimming pools in Al Mussanah. Basically all I know about Al Mussanah personally is about how close they are to Barka, how their ground water tastes better than ground water in Barka, and that they have a few colleges, like for nurses and such, and a few trades colleges.

I am certain, however, that Al Mussanah is probably a little bit like Barka.

I happen to like Barka. In Barka everyone Omani I knew was Al Balushi, or Al Farsi. There was a lovely Mosque there, that was well kept that everyone went to everyday for all the prayers, even the women. Nowhere else really in Oman have I seen women pray in rows together, at, like fajr, in the Masjid.

Most Omanis I knew in Barka were Sunni, but there were one or two Shia families, and I am sure there were Ibadhi families as well, I just didn't happen to meet them, unless I was related through marriage to them;).

In Barka, as we lived on the farm side of the road, we could buy fresh vegetable from the local farms, and fresh milk and eggs. We also would take long walks on the dirt roads between the farms before sunset and this was always quite safe before dark especially on week days.

The beach in Barka itself wasn't always terribly clean but it was a lovely stretch of beach. Al Mussanah is the same, with more fishing families I do believe.

Barka had a sweet little park and the locals in the park were very friendly. Also a little souq that one could go to and get clothing tailored, and odd gift items that were especially lovely for their low prices.

People in Barka were quite familiy orientated. They visited their own families on a regular basis, but didn't seem to visit strangers or neighbors without invitation beyond an initial "hello" visit...and I appreciated this.

Um, what else?

On weekends, because Nakhl was so close, we'd often drive to Nakhl, or if it had rained recently, Rustaq. There are quite a lot of nice wadis hidden just off from the road on the way through Rustaq.

UAE also seemed closer, although, to be honest, not more than an hour so, than Muscat, from Al Mussanah;).

I liked the Badr al Sama private hospital in Barka, as a pregnant woman. I don't really like the other Badr Al Sama's I have ever attended.

Barka and Al Mussanah didn't get hit badly in any of the last hurricances we've had while I've been in Oman.

Life was definately cheaper there. My house rent was 100 rials for a house with electricity, albeit a very small house, whose roof leaked when it rained (not often but it does rain more in Al Batinah proper than it does in Muscat). In Muscat the same is double or more.

It is way less hot and humid in Barka and Al Mussanah than it is in Muscat. In Barka, I had to buy a heater for my house for the winter months.

I don't know that Al Mussanah has grown a lot since I lived out that way, beyond aquiring a major hotel chain for its beachfront, but Barka has.

Barka has Tim Horton's now, which seems kind of unfair. When I lived in Barka, there was really just Lulu and Dominoes Pizza. So there's malls, and even some freehold investment land, and it is growing as one of Muscat's suburbs. I'd live there if my co-wife would, but she won't;). I mean, we go there to the China souqs every other couple of weekends, and Nakhl still is one of the loveliest villages in Oman.

Historically, there's a few forts close, Rustaq, Sohar, and Nakhl, along with Bait Numan in Barka.

I found people were very friendly in Barka, even if English wasn't the most common lanaguage spoken there. I never had any trouble making Omani or Indian friends in Barka. But then, I am a woman. My husband says his experience is that men more or less kept to themselves or their own little cliques.

For kids, the Sri Lankan private school was decent in terms of affordability and English spoken, although all my Omani friends who could afford drove their kids to private schools in Muscat.

That's probably all I am fit to write. To those who asked, I hope this helps!

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