Category Archives: 2014 Dec-Jan – Trip to Oman

2014 Trip to Oman – Day 16 – Dec 31 Home Day

I didn’t sleep well and got up at 7 to message Trish and see how her flight plan was doing.  She was at the airport and had gotten a bit of sleep at the hotel.  She plans to get more sleep on the plane.  Her flight was scheduled to leave at 8:50 am for San Fransisco and at 8:37 she messaged that they had just announced a gate change!  “All that running paid off,” she wrote back a few minutes later.  However the message received half an hour later was, “Why does the universe hate me?  There is a crying baby in the seat beside me.” Due to all the cancellations yesterday the plane was full so she had no chance to change her seat.  The good thing, I hope, is that an hour after take-off most babies go to sleep on flights. It is the toddlers who cause the most disruption because they are active and do not like to be confined for hours on end.  She is finally on a plane and heading homeward.  Please, please everything go well for the rest of her trip….

Carrie, Joseph and John all slept in a bit today.  Catch-up from the lack of sleep the other night.  We had planned to drive to Seeb to explore a park out there, but Joseph and Carrie both had some work they would like to get done. (We’ll go on the weekend.) Also the weatherman predicted rain for later in the afternoon and when it rains here, it really rains.  This would be fine if the rain stayed outside. Unfortunately the windows leak in their villa, which is ridiculous since they are the first tenants in the new building.  Rain pours down the  stairs that go up to the roof through the base of the window at the top and Carrie told us that if we had anything on the floor in front of the window in our bedroom we should move it because water comes in most of the windows.

John and I took a walk mid-afternoon.  It was definitely cooler and there were a lot of clouds in the sky, plus a light breeze.  Muggy though.  However the rain did not materialize. I only did one lap of the neighbourhood route because I knew John wanted to do a power walk lap and I can’t keep up to him when he goes like that.

J & C’s stove top is fueled by propane tank; the oven is electric.  They bought four tanks of propane on the advice of the salesman when they moved in 14 months ago.  We changed out the first tank a few days ago.  Every time the guy comes by he is incredulous that they don’t need more propane.

Also all the water is de-salinated so people buy bottled water because there is a weird after taste to the tap water, even though it is perfectly fine to drink.

Both these commodities are sold door to door.  The trucks drive by almost every day, which would be fine except the drivers feel they need to give three beeps on their horn at every house.  There are more than fifty houses in this neigbourhood so that is an awful lot of annoying beeps.  Carrie and I want to go outside and pull the wires!  Surely every fifth or six or tenth house would do.  It isn’t as if all the nearby houses can’t hear your beeping and know they can come outside, flag you down and buy their water or propane.  They do some very interesting/weird things here.  But I am sure the locals would think we do some pretty strange things too if they lived in our towns.

So, other than our walk around the block and some games in the evening it was a leisurely do nothing day – for John and me anyway.  Carrie was busy preparing for the launch of her online art creativity course and Joseph was writing a report for work and completing his medical expenses forms.  Just a thrilling day all around. And….Trish is still in the air somewhere.  As of this writing at 8:15 pm Muscat time she has 14 hours of flights and waiting for connections left ahead of her.  Talk about a long, long day.  Thinking of you Trish.

Sorry, doing nothing generated no photos today.

Happy New Year everyone.  May 2015 be for you a year of blessing and joy.

2014 Trip to Oman – Day 15 – Dec 30 The flight nightmare continues

We all stayed up until 2 am to see Trish on her way.  Joseph and Carrie drove her to the airport in plenty of time for her 5 am flight to Dubai so they got home again about 3.  She messaged them at 3:30 to say the flight from Muscat to Dubai was delayed and the scheduled arrival time would now leave her about 35 minutes to make her connection to Seattle.                                   Not looking too bad for 2 am.

By the time the Musact flight landed in Dubai she had missed the connection. Emirates Air re-booked her on a 10 am flight tomorrow to San Fransisco with a connecting flight to Kelowna that would arrive at midnight Dec. 31/Jan1.  She spent several hours in a long line trying to get a different/better connection to no avail.  When Trish planned her two week vacation she scheduled it so she would get home in time for New Year’s Eve, one of her two favorite holidays of the year (the other is Hallowe’en).  That isn’t happening now unfortunately.

We decided to go for a walk along the beach at the promenade again.  There was an accident that backed up traffic for miles so the normal 15-20 minute drive took over an hour.This is one of twin fountains in front of a corridor of government buildings.  I’m pretty sure the top ornaments are real gold.

We also drove past the HSBC bank building which has gold doors and gold-topped pillars.The tide was really low so John and I wandered on the beach while Joseph and Carrie did a faster circuit on the sidewalk.  A quick coffee pick-up at Starbucks and we were on the way home again. I liked the glimmer of the sun on the shallow water along the shore.  It created a very nice effect.

At four o’clock we heard from Trish again that she was unable to change her flights and Emirates Air was putting her up in a hotel for the night. She has to be up at 4 am to get to the airport in time for her 8:50 am flight to San Fransisco.  She doesn’t know how long the connection is up to Kelowna once she gets there and by then she didn’t care.  She had been awake for about 39 hours by then and was having something to eat and going to bed.  What a nightmare!  Delayed flights and missed connections BOTH ways.  This will be a holiday she won’t remember with a great deal of fondness, I think, even though we all had a good visit and she met some new friends.  Messed up travel plans just taint a trip somehow, no matter how enjoyable it may have been.  She will be very glad to get home.  Unfortunately she also has to work at 6 am Friday so it will be a very short recovery time.  Not a good end to a holiday.  Poor Trish.

2014 Trip to Oman – Day 14 – Dec 29 The Grand Mosque

When Bryan, (the friend of Trish’s Salmon Arm friend) who lives in Muscat, came to get her last night for their planned trip to the Grand Mosque, Trish mentioned that John & I had not yet been to the Mosque either.  Bryan offered to take us all this morning and last night took Trish on a tour of Muscat to see the city lights.

At quarter to 9 this morning Bryan was at the door.  He is a Welshman who has lived in Oman off and on since 1995 and permanently since 2012.  He too works for an oil company. It has offices is Aberdeen, Scotland and Edmonton, Alberta and Bryan has been to Canada several times.  He is great fun and full of laughs and stories.

He has been to the Mosque many times and knows many of the staff by name.  We toured the Ladies Area and as we were leaving a fellow frowned at Trish and asked which gate she had entered through.  A few minutes later a soldier came up to us and asked Trish to leave.  She had purposely chosen a long skirt and long-sleeve top to wear and had her head covered with a pashmina.  But her skirt had splits in the sides and was considered indecent.  Joseph and Carrie’s villa is only a five minute drive from the Mosque so John and I continued to wander around and Bryan took Trish back to change. The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque was commissioned by the Sultan and is maintained by him.  Construction began in 1995 and took six years.  It can accomodate up to 8,000 worshippers in the main mussalla and 750 women in the ladies mussalla.  If the outdoors and passageways are also used there can be 20,000 worhippers on the site.

IMG_3843The gardens are extensive and beautiful.  There were many cleaners and gardeners and maintainence workers on the premises.  Any place inside that non-muslim people would be walking was covered with a blue cloth.

The carpet in the men’s mussalla is the second-largest single piece rug in the world. It took 600 women 4 years to complete and it contains 1,700,000,000 knots.  (Yes that is the correct number of zeros – 1.7 billion knots.) It covers an area of 4,343 square meters and is 70 X 60 meters in size – all in one piece.

The central chandelier was made by Faustig of Germany using 1,122 Swarovski Austrian Crystals.  It is 14 meters tall. Each Friday the Koran is placed into this niche during prayer service. The Women’s Mussalla also had chandeliers but they were smaller.  The carving on the doors was amazing.  The carpet in the Women’s Mussalla was sectioned to show individual kneeling spots.  The women would kneel at the back and when they bowed their head it rested in the top of the curve and facing Mecca.Outside there were covered passageways down both sides of the complex that had tiled niches on each side.  The sections of niches displayed examples of Muslim art styles through the ages.  Each section had about 12 niches – six on each side of the passageway and all were different examples of the particular art style represented.

This is the men’s ablution area where they perform ‘wudhu,’ a ceremonial washing of their feet, hands, and face before going to pray. The women have a separate ablution area as well. Bryan is demonstrating the technique.  Of course, a Muslim man would take his shoes off first!

Under construction across the road is the new Royal Court Building where judicial matters will be discussed and court cases settled.

We spent just over two hours wandering at the Mosque. Bryan had to be at work around 12:30 so he still had an hour and a half to show us around.  He drove through the mountain that separates the city of Muscat, turned around on the other side and then stopped at a small pullout about half way back down.  He and Trish had come here last night to see the city lights.  We thought it was pretty impressive in the daylight as well.

To make a road you just carve off a mountain.  The Sultan does not like tunnels.  He considers them too dangerous and likely to be closed due to accident pile-ups.  The way we have seen the Omani drive I think that is a pretty accurate assumption. It is desolate country – the landscape looks like a moonscape.

IMG_7213aIMG_7227 You can just make out the new airport in the distance.

We had a great morning with Bryan. He was a lot of fun and he and Trish teased each other all the time.  It was very humourous and very kind of him to show us around.  Joseph and Carrie have not been to the mosque yet either and John and I are more than willing to go again if they want to see it while we are here.  It is a beautiful building on beautiful grounds and a very peaceful place.

2014 Trip to Oman – Day 13 – Dec 28 Another quiet day

Joseph’s work week began again today so he was gone when I got up.  Trish was just returning from a 6.5 km run.  She had wanted to do 8 km but it was getting too hot.

We did a lot of nothing today.  We chatted some and we played a card game. Later I played some computer games and John did Sudoku puzzles.  Carrie retired to her bedroom to do some work.  She will be glad to get her studio back in a couple of days when Trish’s holiday is over.  She will be even happier when John & I go home and she can return to her normal routine.  She and Joseph have made us all very welcome and are pleased we have come to visit, but I know from my own experience that even if you enjoy having company it is always nice when they leave and things return to normal. The sun was at the optimum angle for Trish’s sojourn to the rooftop just as we finished our card game.  While getting her daily dose of sunshine she was able to connect with a friend of one of her Salmon Arm friends who lives here in Muscat.  They plan to go see the Grand Mosque this evening.The Grand Mosque in Muscat is the largest mosque in Oman. The second largest is currently under construction in Nizwa.

Carrie texted Joseph a list of groceries she would like him to pick up on his way home (Poor Joseph and Carrie, they have never had to buy so many groceries so often.) and he told her that he had two vacation days to use up before the end of the year or he will lose them.  So, he will be taking Tuesday and Wednesday off.  He tries to not schedule holiday days that connect to Friday or Saturday as those are the weekend days here and if he adds a day off on to either of them the two days of the weekend are also counted as part of his holidays.  It will be nice to have those two unplanned days together.

Oman has a population of 4 million people with 39% (to be reduced to 33%) foreign workers.  It is the highest oil and natural gas producer in the Middle East that is not a member of OPEC.  In 2012 86% of the government revenue came from hydrocarbons and in 2013 oil and natural gas accounted for 50% of Oman’s Gross Domestic Product.  The country’s fiscal breakeven point for oil this year is $105 per barrel, so Oman needs the export price of oil to be near that figure to have sufficient revenue.  With the price of oil dropping so much lately I am sure they are doing some serious number crunching.

Dubai uses gas turbines and CCPP(combined cycle power plants – I looked it up).  Neither country has enough lakes or consistent water supply to generate hydo-electric power.Men and women in Arab cultures have separate social lives.  Even if you invite friends into your home for dinner and the evening, the men and women will entertain separately.  A wedding celebration has two components: one for the men, one for the women.  Ahmed, our tour driver on the dune bashing expedition, was very surprised that Trish did not live with her parents.  And even more surprised that she maintained her own three-bedroom house in another town from her parents.  Women in some Arab nations are not permitted to drive cars.  In Dubai all the taxis are the same beige color except for the roofs which were different colors depending on who owned the business (Joseph thinks they have all been amalgamated now even if the roof colors are still different).  There are pink-roofed cabs that are exclusively for women who are going shopping unaccompanied by a male relative. As you can tell from the random observations and photos, it was a pretty quiet day at Villa Hanna in Muscat today.

2014 Trip to Oman – Day 12 – Dec 27 Trip to the Muscat Souk

We enjoyed a morning excursion again today.  Joseph drove us into old town Muscat and we wandered around the souk. Trish was checking for any last minute items she needed to purchase for herself or her friends as she leaves for home in two days.  John and I are staying another two weeks.

What Trish would really like is a Persian Lamp for her front entry or her bedroom. But we all agree that the odds of it arriving home in one piece are pretty slim. She did find a couple of amethyst pendants to wear on a silver chain that she really likes.

I , who rarely shop unless for necessities, was the biggest shopper today; if you count four items as big shopping.  I bought two pairs of sandals.  I also bought an Arabian-styled carving of an Elephant – I love elephants – and a notepad with watermark images or symbols on each page. It will be handy for me as well because it opens from left to right and since I am left-handed this works perfectly.  Arabic writing is done from right to left so their books, notebooks and journals open oppposite to ours. We spent a couple of hours wandering the souk and then walked through two small art galleries.  Carrie, being an artist, is always interested in other artists work and ideas that may inspire her own creativity.


Parking in Muscat is always a challenge.  The lots in the malls fill very quickly as do any spots on the streets so drivers make parking spots out of any space they can find.  If they own a four-wheel drive vehicle it is very common to see them drive over curbs and across meridians to park on sidewalks or an open space.  Any empty alleyway becomes a parking lot.

We next drove to the mall near Joseph and Carrie’s house to purchase some dried apricots.  On October 5, a lady in the neighbourhood knocked on the door and gifted Carrie a piece of lamb meat from the animal they had slaughtered for the family’s Eid Al Adha celebration.  This was a very generous and welcoming gift for a Saudi lady to offer to an American.  Carrie put the meat into the freezer and tonight she is cooking it with an apricot sauce for herself and John and Trish.  Joseph and I, who don’t care for lamb will enjoy left over turkey.

There is a Starbuck’s in this mall, so apparently it was time for another coffee.

Trish lay in the sun on the roof for awhile after lunch then went for an eight km run.  Carrie, John, Joseph and I played Firefly, another game we gave to them for Christmas.  We finished – John won – a few minutes before Trish returned.  It was then time to begin the preparations for dinner.  How quickly our busy (not) days are going by.  They are very enjoyable though.


2014 Trip to Oman – Day 11 – Dec 26 Boxing Day (well, in Canada it is)

After everyone was up and breakfast was over Joseph drove us to another beach to have an outdoor excursion.  The Hyatt Regency Hotel is along the beach, as are many of the International Embassys.  There were a few clouds in the sky, a slight breeze beside the water and lovely packed sand to stroll on. Joseph, Carrie, Trish and John, headed off at a brisk pace.  I lingered behind taking some photos and after awhile John returned and walked along with me.  It is obviously a popular walking and playing area as there were quite a few people – both Arab and European – wading in the water and sitting up on the grass. Two four-wheel drive trucks were being used to haul in a fishing net.  It was quite a process.  The net’s guide line would be tied to the front of the truck.  It would back up, pulling in the net, then drive forward to the water’s edge and the line on the net would be untied. Then the driver would move the truck over to a fresh sand spot and the net line would be re-tied at the new, shorter level.  The truck would back up again, thus drawing in the net several meters further.  The two trucks were connected to the two ends of the net forming a huge semi-circle that got smaller and smaller as the trucks moved closer and closer together pulling it in.  There was a series of parallelling tire tracks stretching quite a distance along the beach outward from each of the trucks that showed how wide apart they were when they started bringing in the net. We were on our return walk along the beach when the net was drawn in close enough for the men to wade into the water and gather the net.  The birds circled and dove, trying get some fish but it was in a bag at the back of the net and I didn’t see any birds lift off with a fish.  It was a very interesting process and many people gathered on the beach to watch the men gather the net. There was a truck parked further along the beach that had a large cooling unit on the back in preparation for the day’s catch. Joseph and Trish both wanted coffee so a detour to the Costa Coffee Shop was in order before going back to the villa for lunch and games.



2014 Trip to Oman – Day 10 – Dec 25 Christmas Day

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope you all have a wonderful day with your families and friends.  I feel very blessed to have been able to come to Muscat and share Christmas with my family.  When Joseph moved from Houston, Texas to Dubai in 2007 he told us it would be unlikely that he would be home for Christmas again until he moved back to the US or Canada.  Christmas is a very stressful,  hectic, and weather uncertain time to travel and, being literally half the world away from us in Western Canada it would likely not be a very enjoyable journey.  He did come home in 2009, bringing his then girilfriend/now wife Carrie for a vist.  That is the only time in the last eight years we have all been together at Christmas.

John and I were thrilled that Joseph and Carrie were happy to have us come visit them for Christmas this year, and being able to bring Trish with us was a wonderful bonus.  To have all of those most dear to me together for the holiday has been very special and I enjoyed my Christmas Day in Oman very much.

We all wandered into the kitchen by 8:30 or so.  Joseph made scrambled eggs with green onion and red pepper (very fesitvely appropriate colors) and bacon (which cost $18 per pound in Oman) for breakfast.  After tiding up the kitchen we settled into the livingroom to open our gifts.

With impeccable timing we finished just in time to put the turkey in the oven.  We discovered that there was not a dish in the cupboards large enough to cook it in so John and Joseph headed to the store to buy one.  John actually took the dish they thought would be an adequate size to the meat department and put a turkey in it to be sure ours would fit.

While the bird cooked we played Russian Rails, a new game we gave Joseph and Carrie for Christmas, and again, with impeccable timing Joseph won just as the turkey finished roasting and we all set to in the kitchen putting the rest of our dinner together. Quarter to six saw us all sitting around the dining table to a feast of turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, whiskey glazed carrots, brussel sprouts, coleslaw and biscuits.  No one left the table hungry!After dinner I requested that everyone humour me for a family photo before the turkey coma set in .  Then John, Carrie and Joseph settled on the couch to watch a movie, Trish went to her room to message with her friends and I settled on the upstairs couch to write my blog.  It was a really wonderful, stress free, happy day.  Thank you family.

 From my family to your family, Merry Christmas. God bless you all on this special day.

2014 Trip to Oman – Day 9 – Dec 24 Christmas Eve

We have been here for over a week and today is Christmas Eve.  The sun is shining, the temperature is about 26 degees C and we are lazing around the villa.  Joseph is at work, Carrie is on the couch feeling lousy with her cold and watching Grimm.  Trish is in her bedroom wrapping gifts and John and I are on our the couch in the upstairs livingroom on our computers.

Americans (well the ones Carrie is related to and knows) have turkey at Thanksgiving in November. That is the major ‘must-not-change’ traditional dinner.  Christmas dinner is often ham or roast or chicken; whatever the cook feels like making for the day.

Canadians have turkey at Thanksgiving in October and at again at Christmas and both meals are almost identical.  In the extended Hanna family, deviations on the traditional fare are frowned upon.  The only part that can be random is dessert at Christmas.  For Thanksgiving we have pumpkin pie.

It is an interesting dynamic to be away from Salmon Arm and the snow and cold for Christmas.   In our entire lives we have never been away from home for the holiday before.  All of our winter trips since we retired have begun in early January. We know it is Christmas tomorrow, we are making preparations for Christmas dinner and yet it doesn’t feel like Christmas.  It feels more as if we are just on a holiday to visit Joseph and Carrie.  I am not upset or sad about this, I just notice the difference.

Carrie felt better after her relaxing morning, put the Christmas music on to play and made Coconut Cloud Cake for tomorrow evening’s dessert while I prepared the dry ingredients for the stuffing so I just need to add the liquids before putting it in the turkey tomorrow.  John came in to help with the preparations and was put to work peeling and grating the carrots for the coleslaw and our carrot side dish.  Trish had been doing laundry today but offered her assistance too.  She did the slicing for our whiskey/brown sugar carrots.  Even the brussel sprouts were prepped, so we are all set for tomorrow.

And then….it was time to make the Christmas cookies. After dinner, while John and Joseph did the dishes that were not put into the dishwasher, Carrie made the frosting to decorate the cookies.  I think we all did a pretty good job!


2014 Trip to Oman – Day 8 – Dec 23 Dune Bashing

Some days are just a lot more fun than other days.  Today was one of them.

Joseph took the day off work (I think it will increase his current workload by doing so – which lately, has been mounting – but it was great to have a whole day together) and we all went dune bashing.

Carrie had gone online and hired a six passenger van with an English speaking driver to take us to the desert.  Ahmed arrived with a brand new Land Cruiser at 8 am.  The two seats in the back had no seat belts so he said we would not be able to go dune bashing. This was a bit of a downer as that was the main point of the excursion, but we took it in stride as we would have an all day adventure to the dunes.  Trish and John, who were riding on fold down seats in the back, said they were willing to hold on tight if we could ride the dunes. Trish even offered to sign a waiver.

It was a three hour drive to the Sharqiyyah Dunes near Bidiyyah. For 24 km of the ride we drove through the  Hajar mountains.  The government is currently working on a new four lane road through the mountains that will cut this distance to 10 km.  The peaks are desolate rocks covered with loose rocks and an occasional scrub brush.  The mountains are home to foxes, some antelope and a few other small critters.

There were quite a few old watch towers along the route through the mountains.  In days gone by before the Sultan ruled there was a lot of tribal territorial squabbles.

Our driver Ahmed was a great guy and had a wonderful sense of humour.  He spoke excellent English and knew much about the areas we were passing through.  He owns his own tour company and rental car company and freelances as a guide for other tours.  He received many phone calls on our drive (hands free Bluetooth thank goodness as we were now riding with one of the crazy Omani drivers) and switched easily between Arabic and English depending on the caller. He previously owned a sport bike but his mother said he rode too fast so he swapped to a Honda Goldwing.  He also has a two-seater quad and drives a Porsche sports car (obviously he traded the two-wheel speeding for the four-wheel variety).  Needless to say Ahmed and Trish got along famously.  By the end of the day they had a dinner date for the evening to go to his riders club. That’s my girl.

Just before we arrived at Bidiyyah he asked us if we wanted to do mild or extreme dune bashing. (Apparently he was teasing us about the seat belt issue.)  After hearing a chorus of “Extreme” from the back seats he pulled into an auto shop and had air taken out of the tires so the vehicle could more easily navigate the dunes.

IMG_3422 IMG_3424 A short distance from Biddiyyah a golden-red wall of dunes rose up in front of us.  Ahmid shifted down and hit the gas.  We flew over the top of a dune and then slid sideways down a steep slope.  This was our introduction to Omani dune bashing.  What a blast!  We spent over an hour riding around in the desert, then stopped on the peak of a dune for a photo stop.  Below us at the base of the 45 degree dune was a Bedouin camp.  This was our destination.    I Photoshopped a ‘pencil’ line to give you a little bit better idea of the angles we were traversing. (I hope)

You can see the path we took across this dune – most of which was done by sliding sideways while going forward. We stopped at the peak of a dune for an overlook of the desert.  You could see a moderate-size community off in the distance and set up below us was a small Bedouin camp that, after our photo taking was finished, we went down to visit Inside the large stick and palm-frond ‘house’ the sand was covered with various sizes and colors of rugs, there were cushions and hangings around the perimeter and our hostess had set up coffee and dates for us.  Ahmed instructed us on the proper etiquette for having coffee in a Bedouin house.  (Wash your fingers before eating the dates, then wash them again before consuming no more than three small cups half full of cardamon coffee.  It is bad manners to drink more than three cups.) After our dates and coffee we checked out some of the craft items and cloths available for purchase. Ahmed had told us that there was a lady who would do henna tattoos if anyone wanted one. This was something on Trish’s to-do-list so the lady was asked to come over and Ahmed gifted Trish with a Henna tattoo. First, however, she had to be draped like an Arabian lady.We piled back into the van and made our way to Wadi Bani Khalid, a popular local and tourist oasis. There is water here all the time; even in the heat of the summer months.  It was easy to see why people came here, it is a beautiful and tranquil spot.  After we ate a delicious buffet lunch Trish and Carrie took a swim.  In the water there are fish ranging from an inch or so to about 5 inches long that like to nibble the dead skin off your feet.  It is a very ticklish, and somewhat freaky sensation. The ride back to Muscat took about three hours (the light of the setting sun on the mountains produced a lovely pinkish hue) and we arrived at the villa at just after 6 pm, two hours later than a ‘normal’ tour schedule.  Ahmed was in no rush and neither were we. We gave him a good tip and he came back at 8 to pick up Trish for their date.  Joseph, Carrie, John and I played a game of Agricola and then we went to bed.  Considering we were sitting in a vehicle the majority of the day we were all exhausted.

It was an all together fabulous day!

2014 Trip to Oman – Day 7 – Dec 22 A Quiet Day

We spent a quiet day at the villa.  Everyone slept until about 8:30, except Joseph who had left for work by then.  Last night Carrie mentioned that she wasn’t feeling well and was worried she was coming down with a cold.  She rested on the couch this morning re-watching Season 1 of Grimm, then went to bed to get some extra rest.

Trish spent some time on her phone checking Facebook and various other things, John worked on  Sudoku puzzles and I caught up on some of my online games.  Obviously it was a high stress morning!

At 11 or so Trish suggested we go for a walk.  As Noel Coward wrote, “Only mad dogs and Englishman go out in the noonday sun,” – and, I guess, Canadians – but  to us it was pleasantly warm, although we did work up a ‘bit of a glow’ by the end of our second lap around the neighbourhood route Trish has been using.There are many villas here; some are duplex units like Joseph and Carrie’s, some are large private residences. The Honorary Consulate of Rwanda is nearby as well and there are several buildings under construction.

 Joseph and Carrie’s villa. Number 369 is the one on the right. Every house is surrounded by a high wall.   This isn’t so much for security as for privacy so the women of the house can go outside into their yard without having to be covered with an abayah as they must do in public places.

John, with his 40 years of service as a volunteer firefighter in Salmon Arm is always interested in the fire fighting apparatus and systems wherever we go.  He wasn’t quite sure about these hydrants. We even saw some Christmas decorations on one of the fences. They had a wreath attached to an upper balcony railing as well. Clever folks live in this house.  It is three stories high and the lift would be very helpful to raise items without having to carry them up all the stairs. The neighbour had green vines entwined in their balcony.  I have no idea if they were real or plastic, but it looked nice.

After a bite of lunch, Trish went up to the roof to work on her tan and John and I read and checked photos (and I worked on this blog).                                  Pretty bougainvillea in front of one house.

After dinner each evening, when dishes are done and things are tidy we all sit down to play Empire Builder. We have been working on the same game since the night we arrived due to the short amount of time we have in the evenings with Joseph having to work late most days plus the interruption caused by our four day jaunt to Dubai.  We may finish the game tonight.  I think.