Year in Review - Joy & Sorrow in Expat Life - Part II

I hope you had a chance to read Part I of this story. It covered the first six months of my move abroad.  Honestly, the second half of the year was a bit harder to capture.  It was filled with so many events that it was hard to find a clear way to share them all.  Here are the events that made the cut:

July 2014

Experience: Ramadan is a holiday that is strictly respected in Oman (no eating or drinking before the evening fast).  Even if you are an expat, or not participating, there is no eating or drinking in public during the day.  The date of the holiday revolves from year to year.  When Ramadan lands during summer it is a hot and lonely experience. All of the new friends I had made left in the beginning of June.  Most shops, restaurants and entertainment destinations closed.  I spent many hours alone.  Some days I wouldn’t see any people or use my voice for 14 hours straight.  Other days I would go to the grocery store to talk to the cashiers.  The elevator never chimed. There was no one in our neighborhood or hallways.  It was eerie.  I often thought I was living in the book Left Behind.  Four weeks of this alienation almost broke me. Knowing what to expect this year feels so empowering.  

Emotion: It’s hard to capture the emotions I felt during this time.  I genuinely started to break.  It was too hot to go outside and there was really nowhere to go even if I did go outside.  

Event: A wonderful trip to the new Alila Hotel in the Jabel Akhdar mountains was refreshing.  The air was cooler and the hotel whisked us away to relaxation.  I highly recommend it.

Wandering goats eating the new plants outside the hotel.

Wandering goats eating the new plants outside the hotel.

Alila, Oman at sunset.

Alila, Oman at sunset.

August 2014

Experience:  The gift of Ramadan was that everything afterward seemed easier.  The weather started to cool.  The stores, restaurants and activity locations opened again.  People came back to town.  Struggling through this time helped me see how lovely my life had been.  It helped open my eyes to the wonderful opportunities we had.  We visited Salalah (Southern Oman) for the Kareef (rainy season), Brad's parents came to visit and I started golf lessons.

Emotions: Joy with our life in Oman began to grow from this point.

Event: A few days in Salalah for the rainy season was quite interesting.  Moisture travels in the air from monsoon seasons visiting countries nearby and turns the entire area misty and green.  I sent a photo to a friend while we were in Salalah and she wrote back asking if it was located near Jurassic Park.  As you can see it is a stunning leafy green.

September 2014

Experience: September felt like “The Lives and Times of Expat Housewives.”  I traveled to Dubai with the girls for a Lady Gaga concert.  I spent many days golfing, going to yoga and swimming at the beach.  Brad’s rugby season started back up and our life was full of rugby matches and events.

Emotions: Living on a high.  Happy to finally be settling in.

Event: Trips to the beach

Beautiful, tiny shells

Beautiful, tiny shells

Playing in the sand

Playing in the sand

October 2014

Experience: My family came to visit in October.  I taught my mom, whom is afraid of water, to float in the ocean.  I always knew that she was afraid of water, but this was the first time I actually saw her fear.  It made me realize how many things we take for granted.  Floating is like walking to me; I forget that I had to learn how.  Eventually, she learned to float, became addicted and made me take her to the ocean every morning to practice.  She loved it.  Watching her overcome this fear reminded me that many fears, once we over come them, become our new favorite activity.  If I could only remember this next time I am facing a heap of fear.

Emotion:  We were so busy we lived moment to moment.

November 2014

Experience:  We were rushing in every direction.  The weather cooled so much it felt like the perfect summer. Like every good summer we were insatiable when it came to activities, events, and friends.

Emotion: Bright, busy and wild was how this month felt.  There must have been some bad days, but I was having so much fun that my memory recalls this time as full of exhilaration.

Event: Color Run. Dubai. Try it. It was awesome.

Before

Before

After

After

Dancing it out with the crowd.

Dancing it out with the crowd.

December 2014

Experience: Another quick trip to Dubai for Brad to play at Rugby 7s and I was on a plane back to the states for the holiday season.  In December we were in Dubai, Muscat, Seattle, Reno and London.

Emotion: Traveling so much was very exciting and was such a great reward for a hard year, but I struggled with the concept of "home."  Suddenly, this concept needed to take on a new meaning.  I had friends & family in Seattle, but no house.  I had friends & and an apartment (with very little of our stuff) in Muscat, but no family.  Our stuff lives in storage, our family lives all over the USA, and we live in Muscat.  "Home" is a whole new ballgame. 

Event: Rugby 7s. Dubai. If you go to Rugby 7s wear a costume.

Rugby 7s Adventures.

Rugby 7s Adventures.

January 2015

Experience:  We spent the New Year holiday in London with friends.   Their support and encouragement is one of the reasons this blog has finally come to life.  We returned to Muscat to reconnect with our local friends and our lives.  I have been told that after your first trip "back home" you settle in as an expat and adjust more comfortably in your new country.  I would agree.  A trip home made both of us realize that we weren't so far from "home."

Emotion: Exhaustion. We crossed so many timezeones the first few weeks back to Muscat were a blur.

Event: Happy New Year. A stunning view from the River Thames.

February 2015

My Valentines Day Gift to myself was this blog.  So many things were/are happening in the world that vilify the region.  I am very aware of what my friends and family see on the news.  Rarely, however, do they hear anything nice about this region or its people.  I genuinely feel love and appreciation for this place.  I hope people enjoy this blog and realize not everything about the Middle East is as it seems in the news.  I hope people do their research and realize that there is a difference between culture, religion and terrorism.  I also hope people separate actual physical danger and perceived danger.

Emotion: Peace. Is peace an emotion?  I finally feel peaceful in my life as an expat.

Event: Croquet event with the expat ladies at the British Ambassadors house.

Having fun. Not winning.

Having fun. Not winning.

I'm terrible at this game.

I'm terrible at this game.

March 2015

Experience: How ironic. March just ended and it is the hardest to remember.  I spent time with friends visited some wetlands, cheered on some Extreme Racing teams, and went on my first desert crossing.

Emotion: I have filled my life with so many fun people and adventures I am being pulled in too many directions. I'm going to have to sort out my schedule or I'll fall over soon.

Event: Desert crossing adventure with The Guide Oman.

April 2015 - Present

I’m not sure why I always reflect about my life at this time of year. Perhaps it is because Easter is the first holiday after the rush between November and January.  Or perhaps it is the beauty of Spring.  I am not sure, but here we are in April.  Literally, only one year ago I was pretty sure I had made a mistake relocating to Oman.  I promised myself I would stick it out for a year no matter how hard it got.  Today, I’m thrilled to discover that it feels like home and I’m so thankful we get to stay.