Wednesday, April 5, 2017

In the Eye – Erich

If you had to choose a great flavor that kids love, what would it be? Think on that for a moment, I'll get back to it.

We spent two great weeks in Al Ain, a city in the Abu Dhabi Emirate of the United Arab Emirates. It's on the border with Oman.

Al Ain is amazing in that it is a spot where people have lived sedentary lives for much longer than the rest of the nearby area. You see Al Ain is a natural oasis surrounded by desert. The name Al Ain means The Eye or The Spring. If you look at a map of the Arabian Peninsula, you can even imagine one wet area in this location as an eye next to sort of a rhinoceros like nose.

What it is means is that while the rest of the Arabian Peninsula was home to either nomadic herders or coastal fishing villages, in this one spot there was a community of farmers.

We visited the Al Ain Oasis, which is a huge publicly owned date plantation. We learned how the people of the area invented a form of canal irrigation called falaj irrigation. A falaj is the name for one of the canals, and its plural is aflaj. I'm sure the original aflaj were not made of concrete, nor did they have white plastic gates to cut off different branches.
Falaj, not a word we get to say often enough
In addition, the ancient people discovered three tier agriculture. First they planted date palms which grew tall enough to give shade and some relief from the heat. Under that was a layer of fruit plants. And then at the bottom were vegetables.
See it's not all oases!
And though the water and oases are very impressive and life-giving, there is something majestic about the desert itself. And one of the beautiful things in Al Ain is that you are allowed to just drive into the desert and get out of your car and walk around. We enjoyed taking some walks up dunes and runs down them. Some of us who were young and spry even rolled down the dunes. (I was not among their number.)
There is a whole lot of this
And after a hard day of rolling down dunes, why not kick back and enjoy some cream cheese. After all, it's the taste kids prefer!
Oh boy, Mom! Cream cheese!

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