Since we were going to be leaving tomorrow, today was chores and errands day. The first priority was to find a good internet connection. We drove into town at 0900, expecting all the internet cafes to be open since business hours are generally 0800 to 1300. We drove up and down pretty much every street in Salalah and every single internet cafÃ© was closed. We couldn’t see any hours signs posted in English on any of them. But, all the other businesses were open.
After 45 minutes of driving around, we decided to get groceries, go back to the boat, and head to the Oasis at noon for lunch and internet. We were told they are a wi-fi hotspot, and we had our fingers crossed that was accurate information. We were relieved to find out that are a hot spot. The connection is better than the Hilton’s, and they didn’t charge us anything extra beyond the meal for our internet usage. However, the waiter seemed unhappy with us for being the first ones to arrive and the last ones to leave when they closed for their afternoon break.
Oman is another place that lacks microwave dinners, so Christi made several meals and froze them in small plastic containers for passage food. A fellow cruiser gave us a camel roast that she put in a marinade and froze, all ready to throw in the oven on passage. Camel is a red meat, similar to beef, but stringier in texture. We’ll let you know how it tastes. She’s a little worried about texture since she didn’t tenderize it first.
Eric added oil to the stabilizers, changed the aft Racor fuel filter, added oil to the engine and changed the filter on the transfer Racor.
We were back at The Oasis as soon as they opened at 1800, laptop in hand, and the waiter did not look happy about it. We made sure to order lots of food to try to make him happier, and took some back with us to add to the freezer collection.
We thought now would be a good time to share some information we have learned about Omani culture and Islam. No one has given us a straight answer on this, but from all the people we have talked to over the past week, it sounds like Omani people are not allowed to date. When you are ready to get married, you can spend some time talking to a marital prospect to see if the two of you get along, but we get the impression having a boyfriend or girlfriend is not allowed.
It sounds like arranged marriages are not uncommon, and we are not sure how you go about finding a marital prospect if the marriage is not arranged since men and women are strictly segregated. In theory, men have little idea what kind of figure or hair his wife has before the wedding, and a handful of men never even see their bride’s face before the wedding. Men pay a dowry to the bride’s family, and they don’t get the dowry back if the marriage doesn’t work out, even if she leaves him, and divorces are allowed. The government makes it very difficult for an Omani to marry a foreigner. There is a lot of societal pressure to marry another Omani and have kids. A couple of the Omani men we have talked to complained about the dating and marriage rules of Oman, wanting to be free to date and marry whoever they wanted. Interestingly enough, the Sultan only had one wife, who he is divorced from. They had no children. It must have been a bad marriage, because he refuses to marry again, despite tremendous pressure to produce an heir to the throne.
According to Islam, a man is allowed to have four wives. The reason for this is so that every woman can have a provider, especially in times of war when there aren’t many men around. Oman and the Maldives openly allow the four wives, but it sounds like very few men take more than one wife. Ideally, each wife is supposed to have her own separate house, and supporting multiple households isn’t easy financially or emotionally. In the Maldives written permission is needed from the existing wives to add another to the clan, and we believe that is the case in Oman, too, though we are not positive. There are some parts of Malaysia where polygamy is allowed, but in most of Malaysia only one wife is legal. In Indonesia, Muslim men are allowed two wives, and non-Muslims are only allowed one.
Women covering up is also worth noting. We are told there is no actual Omani law stating that a woman must cover her hair and body when there are men present (other than immediate family), but societal pressure is so strong that, should an Omani woman walk into a public place in western wear that is tight fitting and shows skin, the police would pick her up and take her back to her father or husband to be punished. Women begin covering up at 12. It sounds like some women like covering up, because then they have no worries about the latest fashions, makeup, perfectly styled hair, or being oogled by men. But it also sounds like there are quite a few women that do the hair/makeup/clothes thing under the robes to show off to their girlfriends when there are no men around, and they would love to shed the robes to show off to the men, too. We also found out that women have only recently been given the right to drive.
While we were in Malaysia, we mentioned that it is illegal for a Muslim to convert to another religion. We recently found out that is an Islamic law, and being that Malaysia is an Islamic state, they enforce it. We are told that if a Muslim converts to another religion, it is considered justified to kill the converter by Islamic law.