On the way to the Mombasa airport you pass through a thoroughfare of flags from all nations. It occurred to me on this drive a few weeks ago, that it might be cool to figure out how many countries there are in my biggest gap, alphabetically, between countries that I have visited. I then decided that it would be neat to commit to visiting, some time in the next five years, the country that would cut that gap in half.
And though this was the most arbitrary and silly of activities, I felt the hand of destiny at work, because it turned out that my biggest gap – 13 countries – is between the Netherlands and the Philippines, and that Oman is smack in the middle of the two, alphabetically speaking if not geographically.
Well, my last stop in Mombasa before heading to the airport had been Fort Jesus, where I learned all about the Omani influence on Mombasa and the region in general. As I walked through intricately carved Omani doors and looked at Omani pottery and jewelry in the display cases, it reaffirmed my desire to visit Oman, which first landed on my radar two or three years ago when I began seeing it (and Malta!) all over Instagram. The photos look straight out of “The Thousand and One Nights.”
At around the same time, I was realizing that my exposure to the Middle East was minimal (one country, Israel) and that it is a region well worth exploring, not only for its fascinating history and breathtaking landscapes but also for its contemporary culture.
Anyway, I now feel certain that the universe is calling me to Oman. Only time will tell if I’ll listen…