Last week Hubby and I took a much needed break to Oman. Ok, maybe not that needed for me, the girl who is on permanent holiday, but after a long summer apart it was good to know we had some quality, chilled out, switch off time together. As you all know Oman has become our little haven in the Gulf and to say we were excited about our return was an understatement. I have to be honest here, and tell you that my enthusiasm did falter when Hubby declared that we were on a 4am flight and that we would have to be at the airport by 2am!
Once I got over the shock that I would not be getting my beauty sleep that night, the further realisation hit that not only would I have to deal with a 2am start but have to endure Kuwait airport, in the early hours, on the first day of Eid break. To non desert folk, that is the equivalent patience testing of being in a 2am St Helier taxi queue; there are too many people in a small space, who all think that their onward journey is more important that yours, queuing is a suddenly an alien notion and instead of being alcohol fueled, Starbucks are doing a roaring trade, as caffeine intoxication creates stupidity. But apart from all that I couldn’t wait for the days ahead.
The short flight down to the sultanate was a fairly pleasant one. Upon arrival it became very apparent that the majority of the flight were transiting through Oman, so only 5 of us actually needed to be processed through Muscat immigration, which was a blessing on my lack of sleep and coffee at this stage. We then made our way to the inevitable……the Duty Free shop! Dry state problems and all that, meant that out of the 5 people that disembarked the flight from Kuwait, 4 of us were British expats, so it was no surprise when we bumped into the other couple perusing the wine aisle. Us Brits abroad are nothing if not predictable and in true expat fashion,
conversation was sparked as we all hunted for the gin!
After bonding over hard liquor, we were of course bonded for life, so the small talk continued at the baggage carousel and I made my way to the ladies. As I entered the bathroom, to my shock there were 3 cubicles which only had squatting facilities (just when I think I am totally dealing living in the Middle East, gems like this happen). As I was debating whether I could wait till I got to the hotel? could my back hold out if I squatted that low? it can’t be that different to yoga right?
but I do have new white trousers on?!
My new gin drinking friend strolled in and as I was about to leave, she noticed another door hidden from my initial view. To my relief this had a loo I could navigate without ruining my trousers, she too was relieved and for a split second I thought we have have high fived each other, but the need for further relief was more important.
So after that somewhat precarious trip to the loo, Hubby and I were in a taxi (via Costa for a large coffee) on our way to paradise. Awe it was good to be back, this country is speculator, clean, green and authentically Arabian. As we pulled up to the Al Husn, we were met by that familiar, intoxicating waft of frankincense magically and hypnotically filling the lobby. We were immediately at ease and knew we were in for yet another great stay at our favorite get away. When we rounded the corner, to our surprise there was Mr & Mrs duty free, also making themselves comfortable. That awkward, laughing and stalker inferred banter followed, as both couples desperately awaiting our rooms to shower off the unsociable start to the day.
What followed was 3 days of pure relaxation. Hubby and I were set up within ours of our arrival, in our usual spot by arguably the best pool I have ever experienced and it was as if we had never been away. We are certainly creatures of habit, planning our evening meals at our favorite restaurants, enjoying the evening drinks hour in the courtyard, which is one of of the beautiful aspects of this hotel. It was perfect. Total switch off, in an incredible setting, with the one you love, it can’t get much better.
Over those few days, we had commented that we had not set eyes on Mr & Mr DF since our initial tête-à-tête, when we spotted them on our last day poolside. As I made myself comfortable on my sun lounger, apply my usual copious amounts of SPF, Hubby declared he wanted a cool off in the pool first. After a good 15 minutes he hadn’t returned, so I ventured off. I then saw that he was in deep conversation with Mr & Mrs DF. I was little surprised as this is very unlike my Hubby, who is usually not overly social, but I swam over to the congregation. The typical expat exchanges followed, as we ascertained that we had all been in Kuwait the same period of time and where our previous adventures had taken us.
One thing I have learnt since being an expat in Kuwait, is that we certainly all stick together. We are an incredible friendly bunch and so it was not overly surprising to me that we got chatting to complete strangers about our life stories and desert experiences. We all came to conclusion that living in this part of the world is “interesting” and we laughed as this really is the only word that sums it up. It is so random, sometimes things are alien and yet familiar, there are moments when you just think what the hell are we doing, which are followed by moments of pure contentment. So yes interesting is the right word. I think we pretty much covered every aspect of living in the sandpit but they like us had a similar attitude, that it is what you make it and you have to try everything once. As we left the pool like life long pals, we planned to meet for a glass of something later that evening.
On our return to the sun loungers it became apparent we had been chatting to this couple for 3 hours! How did that happen!?
We had fallen into that time warp where time stands still, which can only be experienced in Ikea & drunken night out trips to the loo!
We could not believe that we had: one, managed to be that social for that long and two, we had been in the pool for that long with no hat or re applying sunscreen. Lets just say that that evening Hubby and I were very red in places and had a body temperature of what felt like 102. Sadly we didn’t see our new friends that evening, maybe 3 hours was enough after all, so Hubby and I shared a lovely last night all the same.
So another wonderful Oman trip was over and we were back in the sandpit, dreaming and planning the next available time to return. A week has passed and as we sat down to watch Strictly and The Xfactor (oh c’mon you know you do the same thing) Hubby suddenly shouted NO WAY! Now I know Simon Cowell’s shirt gets more open every season, but that was a bit of an overreaction. He then followed up this outburst with an explanation that he had been sent a message on LinkedIn from the Mrs DF! She had obviously hunted us down from the few bits of information we had exchanged, to apologise that they had not met us that evening due to the fact that there were red as lobsters and peeling like snakes! There was a follow up invitation to meet them socially now we are all back in desert side.
Once I got over the slight stalking behavior of tracking us down, I realised that bonding over booze, toilet facilities, our “interesting” desert lives wasn’t the only thing apparent here…..we weren’t the Monica and Chandler in this situation (Friends fans will get this) but more importantly Hubby and I must be a hoot!
You gotta love this expat thing, no where else in life would we think it acceptable to strike up conversations with complete strangers, hunt them down online and them arrange to have dinner! The desert adventure continues