Welcome to my blog. I write about fitting in, sticking out, and missing the motherland as a serial foreigner.

A cultural experience...with my own culture.

When we were in Salalah last week, we stopped to eat lunch in Raysut. The only thing in Raysut is the Port of Salalah (as seen in Captain Phillips). That, and a restaurant called The Oasis Club. My impression after one visit is that the clientele of The Oasis Club consists almost exclusively of people who are there because of the port - sailors, in other words.

The restaurant was decked out with all kinds of sailing-based memorabilia from all around the world: flags, plaques, signed photos of ships, framed currency, etc. There was so much of it that after a while, they had to start using the ceiling to display it all.

While we were there, one large table nearby was occupied by a party of what sounded like American sailors (I suppose they could have been Canadian, too). They were swearing up a storm (the stereotype is true!!!) until one of them noticed our kids and told the offenders to hush (he may have actually said "shut up," but we appreciated the gesture).

Jeremy and I were almost in awe of them. These were ostensibly our countrymen, people who, nationality-wise, we had more in common with than just about anyone else in the southern half of Oman. But I suddenly felt like a Japanese person seeing blonde hair and blue eyes for the first time, or an Egyptian kid wanting to follow the foreigners around at a playground. They were just so interesting, and so Other! Imagine, a person whose job is to sail around the world and stop in at places like that restaurant, no big deal!

These sailors were especially exotic because of their interesting profession, but I find that when I meet new Americans in general, I get a little bit too excited. They're a rare animal around here. Where are they from? What are they doing here? What news do they bring from the Motherland?

When we left The Oasis Club, I remarked to Jeremy that we had just had a cultural experience as genuine as any of the ones we'd had in the souq, or at the fort, or wandering around town among Omanis, other Arabs, and guest workers. It just so happens that this one was with our own culture.

(And the food was great, by the way. The menu had almost anything you could think of and we all ate sooo much.)

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