Today I had the privilege of visiting a museum in this country’s capital city. There were four floors worth of fascinating historical exhibits beginning from the ancient African inhabitants and their nomadic experience, moving through Phoenician occupation and roman occupation and eventually the settlement of Arab peoples and the nation’s modern history. Whilst many of the signs were in Arabic, there was enough English signage to give us a rich history of the country.
Better still in the evening our hosts made dinner for all 450 crew members and put on a cultural show for us. The meal consisted of four courses served to us in our seats by waiters – a far cry from our usual buffet experience! A wonderful soup, a plate of salad and some savoury pastries made up the delicious starter courses (unfortunately half these things were made of potato so I couldn’t eat them, but thankfully the people who cleared the plates were ship people so it wasn’t too embarrassing). Our main meal was delicious camel meat cooked in spices and served on a bed of couscous with an amazing sauce.
The band played for us two wonderful Arabic songs which I enjoyed, and then they went on to play several western classic songs in English and Spanish! Everyone was so surprised to hear them playing ‘Country Road’. Amazing.
Life in this part of the world is about give and take. We put on cultural programmes for local people, and they put on cultural programmes for us. Often during school visits the school will go up on stage and perform a song or two for us before we begin the programme. I count myself as very fortunate to be in this part of the world to experience such hospitality and rich culture.