As I mentioned in my last post, the last two years have been some of the best years of my life and we are incredibly lucky to have had the chance to experience Oman in the way that we have. It’s not a secret that I have loved living in Oman.
However, there are some aspects of life in Oman that I will happily leave behind. Do they out-weigh the positives? Definitely not. But, for posterity, here are the few things about Oman that I will not miss:
The trash: Muscat is a noticeably clean city. There is no garbage in the main streets, and all the roads I drive on every day are absolutely spotless. But as soon as you head out of Muscat, or go anyplace where people are expected to clean up after themselves (and there are no South Asian laborers to clean up after them), there is trash and plastic crap everywhere. Be careful walking on the beach because people bury their barbeque skewers rather than throwing them away, leaving them to impale the feet of just about everyone (WTF? Why on earth would you do that?). Whenever we go to the beach or camping, we clean up all the garbage and we usually have several bags full. It’s disgusting. I’ve seen people throw plastic bottles and all kinds of garbage out their car windows. And don’t get me started on the amount of garbage you’ll find in the ocean. It’s truly sad.
The drivers: You will never hear me complain about traffic in Oman. Never. Even on its worst day, the traffic in Oman is nothing compared to the daily traffic of Dhaka. The driving, here, on the other hand, is mind-blowingly terrible. I’ve seen more single car accidents and dumb shit then I’ve ever seen in the US. People don’t check their blind spots, everyone cuts off everyone else, they don’t understand the idea of merging, no one waits their turn, and tail-gating is the norm. The women drivers are the worst offenders. Most of the time when a car does something truly ridiculous, there is a lady behind the wheel. As a woman myself, this especially pains me.
The currency: One rial, or one OMR, is worth about $2.50. Not only does this make on-the-fly price conversions a little tricky sometimes, but it makes things seem cheaper than they actually are. For example, you see some nice looking cheese at the grocery store. It costs 3.600 OMR. How much is 3.600 OMR in USD? Round up to 4, multiply roughly by three and then subtract a little. So in my head this is $10. Plug it into the currency converter later on and come to find, thankfully, that it’s actually $9.35. Victory! However, 3.600 OMR sounds like a lot less than $10, so you might think it’s a good deal. But it’s not. If something is “only” 2 OMR, that’s more than $5! I am really looking forward to living someplace where prices sounds more expensive than they are. When we were in India things seemed so expensive because there are 70 rupees in one US dollar. Something that costs 500 rupees sounds really expensive, because 500 of anything sounds like a lot. But that’s only $7! In Namibia, there are 14 Namibian dollars in one US dollar. Hopefully this, coupled with a comparatively lower cost of living, will help us save some money.
The speedbumps: Oh dear god, the speed bumps. I’ve gone over enough speedbumps in Oman to last a lifetime. It’s gotten to the point where sometimes I’ll take a longer route just to avoid speedbumps. Sometimes they’re marked, sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes they’re tiny, sometimes they’re massive. Hopefully you have another car in front of you, braking so that you know there’s a speedbump coming. The unmarked enormous speedbumps are the worst. I can’t even count the number of speedbumps we’ve gone over and there’s a crunch because the car’s shocks are 100% compressed.
The heat: Obviously. I’ve complained about it enough that it’s old news at this point.
Are any of these things deal-breakers? Nope. It’s all things you learn to deal with, and we always try to do our part to mitigate the effects, like picking up trash, driving responsibly, and always keeping an eye out for speed bumps. You really only run into problems if you are bad at pricing things (and spend all your money) or a terrible driver (and you get in non-stop car accidents)!