Tuesday, January 1:  After a 23 hour trip from Washington (2 hour early check-in, 16 hour flight, 3 hour layover in Frankfurt, and 2 hour transition through immigration to my Nizwa flat), my 3 boys arrive safely tonight in Oman.  They’re smiling and ebullient.  We hug and hug and I shift my mind to our new paradigm, being together as a family in a foreign land.  The boys are relaxed and confident; they’ve been here before and they’re pros at this.  Adam tells me he’s happy to be back:  “I feel like this is my second home!”  Their dad looks exhausted.  He tells me he’s only slept 5 hours since Sunday because he’s had so many loose ends at home to tie up: work, packing, taking care of our dog, household stuff.

Mike, Adam & Alex arrive at Seeb International Airport in Muscat

Mike, Adam & Alex arrive at Seeb International Airport in Muscat

I try to see my world through their eyes.  I remember the first time I came to Oman in September of 2011.  At that time, I arrived late at night.  It was sweltering and humid even at 11 p.m. at night.  Everything seemed surreal, with the haze of humidity in the air, the long curvaceous road to Nizwa in the dark, the mountains sporadically looming up beside the road like solid alien sentries.  I know for Mike, it must seem this way, dreamlike and bewildering. Though it’s not hot now on January nights, there is a haze of dust in the air that lends a strange aura to the landscape.  On the other hand, I sense a whole different experience for Alex and Adam.  They’re comfortable; they feel a kinship with this place.  They carry a memory of our shared experience and now they look forward to sharing it with their dad.  As do I.

Our drive to Nizwa is filled with reminiscences about last January, when Alex and Adam were here with me.  They talk about where they want to go again while here: “Wadi Shab!  Camp Al Areesh!  We should make Dad drive through the Empty Quarter to Salalah!!”  There’s a debate about the treacherous drive over the Hajar Mountains: Alex felt car-sick and uncomfortable the whole time and doesn’t want to do it (this might have to do with the fact that I almost killed all three of us on that drive!). I tell them there is plenty to do, and they can do anything they want.  I tell them our plan for the weekend.  They’re enthusiastic to embark on our new adventure.

They point out the Omanis parked along the highway, sitting on the ground in the dark, hanging out with their friends.  Adam says, “That’s so cool.  I want to do that!”

I love having them here.  It will be fun to see Oman anew with their enthusiastic eyes.  Stay tuned for the coming adventure. 🙂