Sunday, September 5, 2010

Blogging From Nizwa- Oman

Blogging From Nizwa
30 August - 3 September 2010

Joy & I headed for Mangere and the hold of the 380 to head for Oman on the 30th. We got upgraded to business class from Sydney to Dubai which made the trip somewhat more comfortable as we could lie down and “sleep” for much of the trip as well as enjoy the comforts of the Business class lounges in the airports which certainly beats wandering the duty free aisles and being charged extortion rates for food and drink along the food-halls.

On arrival in Oman we were met by 37C and the driver from the Muscat Holiday Hotel where we were to meet the local CfBT in-country managers. We were briefed and introduced to the local MoE officers with whom I’ll be working in delivering the teacher training programme in Nizwa. Much enthusiasm and positiveness was exuded about the programme and living and working in Nizwa by all. Our apartment was described as having a courtyard and garden enclosed in a compound, the setting described as pleasantly rural and that there were others from CfBT in the immediate area so we would not be lonely.

So, once issued with our temporary car, the 4X4 being given a full check over before delivery, we headed off to Nizwa along the expressway that connects Muscat with the interior and the UAE. As in Qatar, I found that my sedate tootling along at 110 on the 120 kph road was too slow for many other drivers who appeared from the distance, tail gated until I moved over and vanished across the horizon before either Joy or I could acknowledge their presence.
The door to our apartment- Nizwa

We arrived in Nizwa from Muscat and were met by the local CfBT agent, Nasser, who took us to our apartment on the outskirts of the old town. We are about 2 km from the Old Fort and souq along a road that takes you past a wadi that, according to Nasser, had flooded three days before, and in amongst a winding set of narrow lanes lined with date palms and cars as you can see from the photographs taken from the roof top of the building.

The apartment is pleasant enough if sparsely, though adequately, furnished. The decor is, at least, neutral. No TV or internet connection though..we are to provide those as, unlike Cognition, CfBT seems not to consider these important for the sanity of their people. We have also discovered that we are the only residents in the apartments at the moment as the other employees are either on holiday or not yet in the country. Nasser tells us that two of the other tenants are long termers, both men, who spend their days at work and evenings/ weekends at the hotel. One of them is away in Thailand where he, apparently, goes every holiday break.

We are right next to a tiny mosque that has its speaker pointed directly at out apartment block but, as we discovered last evening and again this morning the volume is not all that loud, unlike the competing mosques of Doha!! We woke more to the sounds of crowing cocks, bleating goats and the distant thrum of a generator than the early morning call to prayer.

We got Nasser to take us to the local supermarket yesterday before we unpacked and began the process of settling in to the apartment. It was just as well we did as I doubt we would have discovered the shop ourselves. We picked up our basic supplies, eggs, milk, a bit of meat, vegetables and began the process of making the place livable. It took us five hours as the previous tenant had simply emptied the fridge, left it open and left herself, the furniture was dust covered and required moving around the rooms to be able to be used logically and the process of inventoring the place added to the time. We discovered loads of plumbing problems with non working showers that fire directly into the toilets, no bath, a non-flushing toilet and dribbling taps that seem to have a water retention problem to add to the fun.

The apartment is tiled throughout so we don't get a vacuum cleaner- just a couple of brooms and a mop to keep the dust down.

When Nasser came back from breaking his fast at 7.30pm we had a list of things he had to get fixed ready for him that will take the maintenance man a good half-day to make right. Once we hear from him on Friday..... inshallah.

We aim to do a bit of exploring on Friday as well as making arrangements to get our internet and TV connected so we can have some connection with the outside world. Incidentally the weekends here are Thursday-Friday rather than the Qatar Friday-Saturday model we had gotten used to.
Dates drying in the sun by the roadside
We are waiting on our final case with Joy's painting gear, a few books and our scrabble set to arrive. Once we get that we should feel a bit more at home and less alien.

Tomorrow I will be introduced to the training centre and the various people I will be working with which should give me a greater sense of purpose and, perhaps, contact with other ex-pats who have wives here who are in a similar situation to Joy and thus allow her to become part of the community.


Peter Fairless said...

I bet the plumbing was never fixed properly.

The Curmudgeon said...

How true!!!! We endured a trickling shower stall for the entire contract.. all other plumbing problems were treated with "magic solution".