Day 77 Mar 21 (sea day)

Breakfast on Lido, Tai Chi and then Vantage. The routine seems to be a post port discussion on the day after and we shared experiences. Salalah, and Oman in general (some had taken an excursion to Dubai from India and visited Muscat on the way to rejoin us in Salalah), is very nice. This is a desert by the way. Think El Paso with less vegetation. Oh, of course there is the Arabian Sea. Lots of undeveloped oceanfront property here! It is called the Riviera of Arabia. Apparently the "rainy season" is in July - September and the population doubles as Arabs from other nations in the area come here to cool off. The temperature in some Arab countries nearby reaches 50º C (122º F). The rains and the sea here keep it much cooler.

The people are in general very glad to have American tourists visit. I believe they have oil so they don't really need tourist money like some other countries. Oman has been an ally of the West for many years. This is definitely where you want to come to get your frankincense. A couple other "facts" of interest: The nearby Jabal al Qar is alleged to be the resting place of the biblical prophet Job and the resting place of Nabi Imran, father of the Virgin Mary. Maybe that's why the cruise ships stop here and not at Marfa. Hmmm.

At 11 we had a lecture about India's caste system from Shreeyash Palshikar. Very interesting. Far more complex than people realize.

Got stomped at trivia today.

Afternoon lecture by Hassan Eltaher on the Suez Canal. We'll be going through it soon. After that one of the passengers, Leon Ohana, gave a talk about the history of the Holy Land. I have lived through the part where the Jews established Israel (1948) but hearing the story from the Jewish perspective clarified some fine points. He did a good job and hopefully we'll have time to get together with him again for discussion. We had only an hour and he used it up relating details from ancient times to the present. I'm sure he left out a lot but we got the main points.

I walked half an hour before dinner.

The show tonight was weak. The Amazing 88's weren't amazing. A youngish couple who both played pianos and sang. The girl, Riana I think, also did a mediocre imitation of Catherine Zeta Jone's in Chicago (All That Jazz was the number). Only one guy stood up to give a standing ovation at the end of their performance. We're a generous audience but we apparently can tell the difference between good and bad acts. Of course, the comparison with last night's entertainment was not a happy one for this act. They can't all be great. Part of the problem was that we couldn't hear the pianos very well at times. Not helpful when most of your act involves piano playing.

Well, that catches you up to now. I'm writing this at 11:00 AM on Saturday. I will try to send it shortly. Oh, we gain an hour again tonight. If I calculate correctly that will put us 9 hours ahead of El Paso (MST).

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