Tuesday, October 07, 2014

The ruins of Al Suleif

We just got back from a camping trip to Oman. Here is the glass-half-full version of our visit to the ruins of Al Suleif near Ibri yesterday afternoon on our way home.


It was not as hot as I suppose it could have been when we pulled up to the site of the ruins at midday. We were expecting to take in the ruins by ourselves, as quickly as possible without sacrificing awesomeness, and in the shade as much as possible.

But to our surprise, we were met by an Omani guide who would not take no for an answer when he offered to show us around the site. He was very thorough and made sure to tell us about each part of the ruins in both English and Arabic, even though we told him that just Arabic was fine. He himself was descended from one of the two main families who inhabited the village in its heyday, so he was well informed about every nook, cranny, and obscure inscription, and made sure to tell us about them all. He did not even mind that our baby was fussing from hunger, heat, and a soiled diaper - he simply carried on with the tour. The guide was even so kind as to physically take our camera from us and take unsolicited photos - of the ruins, of us - throughout the tour. He also pointed out the most auspicious times and places for us to take photos, and waited patiently until we did so before continuing with the tour. Although he expressed his willingness to extend the tour indefinitely, he very graciously cut the time short so we could tend to our baby's needs and allow him to take care of some other tourists who had just arrived.

OK, obfuscation aside, the ruins of Al Suleifa really are something to behold. We are already looking forward to a time when we can return and perhaps sneak below the guide radar and have a romp around the ruins with just our family. There is something to be said for exploring ruined villages without having every mystery of history solved for you by a guide - to walk around and wonder what this room was, and what that was used for, and have each of you pick out a room you'd choose for your very own if you had lived here in the olden days. Ruins are good for the soul, and while I honestly appreciate the guide and how he has really, really magnified his calling, I prefer to explore ruins without feeling obligated to smile and nod throughout.

Ah, but even with the mandatory tour (and mandatory pictures!), it was a fabulous pit stop on the way home and I am excited to go back another, hopefully cooler, day. Such is the power of ruins.


Two more things:

1. Whenever Sterling wears this shirt, Jeremy and I call him "45" because seriously, why is there a random number on this shirt? Well, our guide once called him 45, too! It was privately hilarious to Jeremy and me.

2. When he didn't call him 45 that one time, our guide called him Sultan, because that's how we introduce him in Oman (and the UAE sometimes). Then, Jeremy got to be called Abu Sultan and I got to be called Omm Sultan. I had forgotten that I have a proper "mother of" name in Arabic now that I have a son.

4 comments:

Liz Johnson said...

Wait, what?? You are now a proper mother because you have a son? Because you were not a "real" mother before with your two daughters??

Talk me off this cultural ledge, please.

Bridget said...

I know, I know. It's not that I wasn't a proper mother, but that I didn't have a reverse patronymic. I don't know what it's called for real. You know how Russians (and Arabs, too, actually) take the name of their father as a middle or second name? Well, Arabs can take the name of their oldest son. Jeremy and I have both gone by Abu (father) or Omm (mother) Miriam before Sterling was born, but it's not really done with daughters. It's just one of those things.

Take deep breaths, Liz. Don't worry. I became a mother as soon as I had Miriam. :)

Susanne said...

That's interesting that you introduce him as Sultan sometimes.


Liz Johnson said...

I've read about this more and am feeling much less hyperventilat-ish about it. Thanks. :)

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails