11 December 2008

Salalah, Oman

Disclaimer:

Any spelling and punctuation errors are not the responsibility of the author, whose spelling and punctuation is always correct. The responsibility for comprehension falls entirely on the reader, who should know how to spell as the author does.

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My arrival here has occurred without due ceremony, and I have quickly fallen into the familiar routine of preparing a boat for an ocean voyage. With only the slight mishap of lost baggage, which was recovered the day after my arrival, and a small (17 hour) layover in Muscat, Oman, my flight was unremarkable. I have, however, discovered the cure to jet lag: becoming completely engrossed in learning the ropes of a boat armed with technology that only a team of Indian PhD’s can fully grasp. No matter though, once my electrical engineering skills are up to par I believe that I will find the boat only slightly mind boggling and incomprehensible. But more on the boat later, after I have been at sea for a sufficient amount of time.

I have been able to find a reliable internet connection at the local watering hole, ironically named the “Oasis Club.” I use the term local loosely, as it is the only place to get a drink in the entire city of Salalah. As a Muslim community, alcohol is forbidden, so the term “dry climate” does not only apply to the desert environment. There are, however, other things to keep the mind sharp in Salalah, such as avoiding camels while driving from the main town to the port area. This is actually quite the serious concern, as the camels are private property that have been granted grazing rights on either side of the freeway. Perhaps vehicular camelslaughter is viewed as the equivalent of theft, which is traditionally punished by the removal of one hand by a sharp piece of metal otherwise known as a sword. Regardless, I have no wish to discover these perhaps insignificant ambiguities of Omani jurisprudence.

The boat, a 50 foot catamaran named Eldemer, is currently on the hard in the port area of Salalah. It is the first time that I have ever had the opportunity to wander around the grounds of a cargo port. There is a persistent hum in the air emanating from the myriad of cranes and other equipment used to unload large cargo ships on a 24/7 basis, and the exposure to the lives of the personnel that operate these ships has been eye opening. A dhow directly in front of us is the temporary home to what can only be called modern day slaves, workers from India who are contracted for a two year period, stripped of their passports to keep them in the port area (one must show their passport to venture outside), and paid about 80 rials or $200 per month. Oh, they also receive a bag of rice and a tank of cooking gas. They have, however, taught me some of the intricacies of squid fishing, which is about the only thing that they are able to do when they are not involved in the transit of a small ship to some of the various outlying islands to provide supplies for the rare visits of Omani or Saudi royalty. Their situation is quite disheartening, but fortunately Rad’s assistant Sasi is from the same region of India, and is able to keep them company and contract them to do such things as painting the hull for some extra money, which Rad is happy to provide. (Rad owns the boat.) Also, I have recently eaten more squid in the last four days than in my entire life, and with a bit of salt and pepper, it tastes quite similar to hard boiled egg whites, albeit more chewy. As in rubber chewy. But digestible!

7 comments:

  1. Great stuff Alex. Keep 'em coming!

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  2. ur always in my thoughts.

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  3. only blog i will ever regularly read. good luck with the squid, camels, and electronics.

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  4. Alex,
    Don't mess with the girls... just think about that long reaching "dull sword"
    Gib

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  5. Alex, can you post pictures? I'd like to see this squid you've been eating. :)

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  6. You should give birth to the squid before you eat it like the japanese dude.

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