To wrap up our Muscat adventure, we spent a relaxing and quiet morning at Athaiba Beach. Tucked away behind a quiet neighborhood of palatial villas, we found the public beach vacant at 8:30am. We secured a shaded plot of sand on the beach and let the children go wild—playing in the sand, jumping in the waves, and collecting colorful seashells. After about two hours, only a few others joined us at the beach, but we were ready to move on with the day.
Returning to our respective hotels, we cleaned up and checked out en route to our favorite Muscat eatery, Coconut House. The food, as expected, was a hit with our friends. They were just as enchanted with Zanzibari cuisine as we were on our first taste, so naturally, talk of traveling to Zanzibar ensued. If our friends were game, we could easily see ourselves traveling anywhere with them, since our travel styles and interests seem to be so in sync.
Backtracking the road to Nizwa by day was much more scenic than our rainy night departure. Our guests marveled at the sight of mountains, valleys, and date palm plantations along the winding road. Hearing their impressions of Oman renewed our own realization of how blessed and fortunate we are to be in a place as beautiful and safe as Oman with the time and means to enjoy it. Especially after our last visit to the United States, the glaring conflict of quality of life versus cost of living in America becomes more and more apparent.
“Let us rejoice indeed, for this is the day of Eid”
The morning of Eid is always very special to us. We rise as usual for the morning prayer but then dress in our best attire for the occasion. We start the day with the remembrance of God, reciting Allahu Akbar (God is greatest) and burning frankincense throughout the home. At the very last minute, we woke up the littlest and last celebrant of the household and she was instantly jolted into the excitement of Eid, wearing her fancy new dress and seeing her friends. At about 6am, our guests arrived and we walked together through Firq village to reach the congregational prayer. With an early start, we enjoyed the meandering promenade between the past and present–adobe forts beside modern homes, plots of farmland adjacent to paved roads, and pedestrians walking by foot alongside large SUVs.
As we drew closer to the open field for prayer, we heard “Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar” reverberating through the village. Sitting on woven palm mats, the sun rising over the mountains, and the fellowship of our neighbors have become signature features of our Eid holidays in Nizwa. This was the experience of Eid we so desperately wanted to share with our guests, which is why we asked them to consider staying at a new hotel apartment in town and cut their cozy stay in Muscat short. The simplicity and serenity of Eid here is memorable.
While all of our Omani neighbors are occupied with their family house-hopping, we usually return home alone to our little family of three. Adding four more to our equation made our home feel festive, like a family holiday. We made banana oat cakes, put on our outdoor clothes, and headed to Birkat al Mouz for a walk through the date plantations. Some use the vast expanse of land for traditional slaughtering, but we probed further inland to enjoy the scenery and explore. We saw a few dates lingering on the palm trees, heart-shaped leaves and discovered an old stone wall at the end of the walking path. With noon upon us, we retired for a little nap with plans to reconvene after the late afternoon prayer.
Oman is famous for beautiful valley riverbeds known as wadis, so we picked the closest and easiest to reach wadi for our guests to visit. Wadi Tanuf, about 30 minutes from the Nizwa town center, was our destination of choice. A few minutes of gentle hiking takes you to a reservoir where water cascades over a dam. With plenty of water in the wadi, the children were more interested in throwing rocks into the water than beholding the landscape. After some time spent on the nearby playground, we reached home by sunset in time for our evening prayers and dinner.
At around 8am, our guests joined us for a farewell breakfast at our home. After our final exchange of Eid gifts, one of our guests shared that this was the best Eid they’ve had in a long time. We contrasted Eid in Muslim-minority countries to that of Muslim-majority countries and concluded that even though we’re not sure where we’ll eventually settle and call home, we are completely convinced that we’re in the right place for right now.