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Foodie Friday | More than Dates in Oman

No one can not live on dates alone, although the intrepid Bedu and other explorers often subsisted largely on dates for long periods of time when traversing the desert. In Arabian Sands, Wilfred Thesiger’s epic account of five years traversing the wilds, he confesses to hoping he never sees another date and certainly could never eat one.

Our local guide told us there are five items in every Omani household: Omani coffee, dates, fish, Halwa and lemons.  During our week there, these foods were central to our days, too. Continue reading “Foodie Friday | More than Dates in Oman”

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Oman | Heading for the Hills part II

Jebel Akhdar and surrounding area

I love mountains. When I am not traveling, I spend my time surrounded by and exploring the Tetons. My first exposure to the Al Hajar mountains blew my mind (Oman | Heading for the Hills part I) but I had no idea what still lay in store. Continue reading “Oman | Heading for the Hills part II”

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Oman | Great Day Trips from Muscat

Oman merits at least a week of your vacation time. However, that is not always possible. Even a visit of a few days provides opportunities to explore some of the historical villages and forts within an easy drive of Muscat. For the most part, the main roads are excellent and marked in Arabic and English. If you only have one day, then I would recommend Nizwa, Bahla and Jabrin. If possible, include a visit  to the lovely hillside town of Misfah. Continue reading “Oman | Great Day Trips from Muscat”

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Foodie Friday | Oman

Dates, Glorious Dates

Until I started traveling in the Middle East and North Africa,  I had no appreciation for dates (the fruit, that is). The lone boxes purchased to make Christmas cookies often languished well beyond their “sell by” date. Better late than never: I am now a convert.

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These merchants invited my friend and I to share a cup of Omani Coffee and dates

Omanis consume dates from sun up to sunrise with the average person eating almost 1/2 pound a day. Dates are an excellent source of protein, vitamins and mineral and their high sugar content (40–80 percent) protects them against bacterial contamination and means they can be stored for years.
Continue reading “Foodie Friday | Oman”

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Galápagos Close-Up: Santa Cruz Island

Charles Darwin and the Galápagos are inextricably linked in many people’s mind. After all, this archipelago and its inhabitants gave birth to his theory of evolution. Darwin only spent five weeks on the islands, but what he observed resulted in his masterpiece On the Origin of SpeciesSanta Cruz Island is the most populated island in the Galápagos and home to the Charles Darwin Research Center. Continue reading “Galápagos Close-Up: Santa Cruz Island”

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Galápagos Close-Up: Santiago Island

Only a few miles away as the pelican flies, Santiago Island is as different from its neighbor Rábida as night from day. Its stark cratered surface reminded me of the moon.  Sea lions, marine iguanas and American Oyster Catchers were abundant, and we saw fur seals (which are actually sea lions – a fact that caused great confusion) for the first time. yellowwarbler_santiago

This bright Yellow Warbler with its colorful plumage was a standout, especially on Santiago’s moon-like surface. Continue reading “Galápagos Close-Up: Santiago Island”

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Galápagos Close-Up: Rábida Island

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Rábida Island is relatively small, with steep rocky cliffs and only one beach where it is possible to land. The distinctive deep red color of its sand is due to the high iron content in the lava. The island is known for these maroon beaches and its abundance of birds. (The small black bird mid-photo above is a penguin!) Continue reading “Galápagos Close-Up: Rábida Island”