Normally I use Microsoft Word to pre-type my blogs in order to do basic spelling checks, but the computer I am on had Word hooked up for Asian language script and I am unable to do this service. I'm sure you can all cope.
Anyways, I am back in Oman to re-begin sailing the Gulf of Aden. We didn't see any pirates the first time around, so maybe we'll get lucky this time, inshahallah. (Inshahallah means "by the grace of god" or something, but is typically translated simply as "hopefully") This time, however, I am taking a small travel break and staying in the only one star hotel in Oman, which was nice enough to supply a bucket so that I could do laundry. Oman is such a clean place anyways (compared to Yemen at least, the dumpster of the Arabian peninsula...) that even the dirtiest of hotels are kept to a dull sheen by the hoardes of Indian workers here.
Which brings me to my main travel tip, for those of you wacky enough to go to an alcohol free desert country: learn the language, or at least key phrases so that it at least seems like you are trying. Arabic is quite difficult, so while this may seem prohibitive, one need not worry, for Arabic is in truth a tertiary language here. English comes in second, due to the vast number of white people that I have seen in the last day, but Malayalam, the language of Kerala in India, is by far the most widely spoken language, which makes sense when one observes that every single shop and hotel is manned entirely by Keralites. (Ok, just go to en.wikipedia.org and look this stuff up, it will be a good lesson in both geography and population density.) So while I have got a couple key Arabic phrases down, I am not abandoning this pursuit and trying to learn some basic Malayalam, which so far has proved worthwhile. At least I think so, as the guy at the coffee shop didn't spit in my avacado milkshake. (I had to try it, and you should as well.)
I leave for Salalah in a few days. On a more somber note, the crew of Minstral has been reduced by one...Lloyd the dog died today after an illness, before I ever got to meet him. Have a beer for him.