I’m a TCK, a third culture kid; I moved to the Sultanate of Oman at a very young age and spent most of my life in the capital, Muscat. Since then I have lived in Italy, England and Canada. As a result of my TCK life, I have no one culture, but a hash of several.
I’m a bit of a nomad, but one with two homes. Not that they ever stay in one place. One is wherever my mother is, and the other is wherever I know I’ll be staying for at least a month or so.
I get very fidgety if I stay in one town or city for more than 6 months without taking a short trip somewhere else. I think this is something I picked up in Oman; my family went camping at every opportunity!
If it wasn’t to the beach, it was to the mountains, and if not there, then the desert, or a wadi. I got used to getting out and seeing different places every couple of months. Some of the most beautiful places I’ve seen have been in the Sultanate of Oman. Personally, and I may be biased here (I am), I consider Oman to be the jewel of the Arabian Gulf. It’s gorgeous.
Most of Oman is arid and rugged but with hidden oasis with deep pools of water. One of my favorite parts of going on a camping trip was driving past the hills. They’re bare rock, and as you drive through you can see how they have formed over the millenia. The different layers of rock are of different colours, making the little mountains look a little stripey.
If you stop and take a closer look, you are almost certain to find at least one fossil, if not on the mountain itself, then on the rocks and stones that make up the surrounding countryside.
The beaches are untouched, never crowded, and I have yet to see a beach that compares to the ones in Oman. (I’m including the gorgeous beaches you see on TV.) I have seen dolphins from the beaches in Oman, turtles while standing on the cliffs that overlook the sea. Snorkeling, I’ve been close enough to touch moray eels, seen at least a dozen different kinds of fish and too many different kinds of coral to count. All of this in one particular area and in one snorkel no less.
Whenever I mention Oman, I never neglect the Dhofar region, in south of the country.One of the most breathtaking sights I have seen has been on my way to Salalah, the capital of the region, during the khareef. The khareef takes place from June to September, and is really an arm of the Indian monsoons that brushes the Middle East. Salalah escapes the torrential downpours that India endures, but gets enough precipitation to turn the Dhofar region very green, making it an extremely popular tourist destination. People from all over the Gulf head there to escape the summer heat.
A highway through the Wahiba Sands, Oman’s desert, connects the capital Muscat to Salalah and I have been on a few trips down to the south on this road. For two days all you see is sand dunes, and the occasional mirage. The journey can be accomplished in a day, but we never saw the need to speed through. So, half way through the second day you see the hills that tell you you’re nearly at your destination.
When you reach the top, you leave the ever-changing sand dunes behind and step into another world: rolling green hills meet your eyes and the mist instantly cools skin you didn’t even realise was drying up under the desert sun.
As much as I loved Oman, I was an expat there, and I never forgot that. I’ve always been a bit of an outsider, but never really minded. It’s just what happens when you move around a lot. Most times I fit in – right up until I open my mouth. I have a mongrel accent; the Brits think it’s American, the Americans and Canadians think it’s British, though some have called it Australian. It is in fact, all of them, and then some.