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I’m starting this post at 40,000 feet above Virginia, 14 hours into our 15 hour flight home.

What’s left to be said? I can’t say this was our ‘best’ trip ever (that place is still held by the 3+ weeks we spent in Europe in 2008). I can’t say that it was the ‘most relaxing’ vacation or the ‘most beautiful’ place we’ve ever visited. So, what can I say?

The trip–aside from the cruise itself, which was basically ‘just another (good) cruise’–greatly exceeded our expectations. Admittedly, we (intentionally) went without a lot of preconceptions or anticipations. We mostly went because we could… because it was different… because it was there. But, we found our experiences in the UAE and Oman to be delightful, from the small (so, this is how a car wash works here) to the sublime (I see why they call this a ‘Grand Mosque’).

We enjoyed getting mistaken for British or German(!) visitors (Americans were few and far in between). We loved our interactions with locals; it was both enlightening and satisfying. Indeed, of all of the trips we’ve taken, this was probably the purest ‘experience’ on a personal level… by that I mean to say, it was a real growth experience.

Let’s be totally honest: before this trip I would have never imagined that some guy walking through an airport in a dishdasha and turban might be a country music fan or hold the Ford Mustang to be his favorite car. It simply would have never occurred to me. Intellectually, I knew that all people were/are unique individuals and most are fundamentally decent. But, I understand that a lot more viscerally now…. that’s pretty awesome.

And, while there are customs and practices that I still find foreign, I think I have an enhanced understanding of those differences and have a greater ability to see ‘both sides’ of the proverbial coin. I’ll have to spend some more time pondering all that I’ve seen and learned. Most importantly, this experience underscores for me that there’s more to learn and that it’s a worthwhile topic of further exploration. My interest in the region and its people is clearly raised…

Finally, we’ve already agreed that we want to go back to the UAE and Oman in the future. In part, it’s just a cool place to visit and a logical stop on a global hop around the world. We’re also interested in reading firsthand the next chapters in these countries’ stories.

Having talked with Libby at length about this trip, I think she shares similar sentiments. It was surprisingly good. Enjoyable and enlightening.

After landing in Atlanta this morning, I checked my email to find a note from Yusef. That was a nice exclamation point to put on the end of this trip. I’m actually hopeful that we’ll meet again some day… either here in the USA or back in his homeland.

We’re now back home and returning to ‘normal’ life.

Until our next adventure…

One Response to “Reflections on Southeastern Arabia”

  1. Dick says:

    Paul and Libby,

    I enjoyed reading about your travel, the area sounds very unique and well worth a visit and it sounds like you both had a good time. I am reminded of a quote from Mark Twain used by Joseph Rosendo when closing his TV Travel Show called “Travel Scope”.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, …” (but you know that).

    Welcome Home my friends.

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