So, here I am in Nizwa! Got in late at night, made it through all things borderly, got picked up by two nice folks from the University of Nizwa, had a bite to eat---how much do we like xubz baraat(T)a?---met my first spotted, skinny cat, made it to the Hotel Al-Diyaar, and promptly overslept for my 7:15 ride to the university.
...to the tune of something like 12:30, on the last day of the work-week (Thursdays and Fridays are the weekend here), when everybody gets done at 2pm. But I did manage to get to campus, meet up with a very kind and helpful professor who chatted with me for several hours (recall that this is when he could be bopping on home for the weekend) and answered my questions---so that now I can have a peaceful (peace-of-mind-ful) weekend before the semester starts (voom!) on Saturday.
Finally saw the landscape in the light today. Rugged. Saying it's gravel-y is like saying that Maine is a bit on the forested side. Trees and bushes are around, but mostly isolated among stretches of no green (or even living brown) at all: not much in the line of thickets or clumps of trees.
So, a little different from my homeland. The heat's not nearly as bad as I'd feared. Hot, yes, but more than reasonable in the shade. And I've already gotten rained on. In the middle of a giant rain-dust-wind-lightning storm that went whompah just as I was heading out of campus back to the hotel. People are nice here: as I was standing across the street from the hotel, just looking at the storm and getting smacked with wind and dust, a carful of random strangers pulled over for me, thinking I needed a ride.
Things seem pretty chill here. My Arabic is so far roughly functional: I can get by in it, it seems, with improvisation on my end and patience on the other. And I'm getting about 40-50% of what people tell me directly. So that's nice. The dialect markers are all over the place from what I expected from reading up---we'll see whether that's due to the diverse population, or me getting my facts wrong, or to other factors.
Okay, off to other things, then! To quote Calvin: further bulletins as events warrant.