beer bizarre

So a few weeks ago, I wrote about activities that are considered haram is Muslim countries in hopes of teaching friends, families, and followers about the interesting country we currently call “home.” Here I am at it again. But this time it’s about a product Rob and I have a deeper affinity for (at least more so than bacon or speeding on the highway)– beer!

Oman is one of the Muslim-majority countries that allows non-Muslims to enjoy libations. Whether it’s because they want to increase tourism, relish the taxes generated from alcohol sales, or just because they are open-minded, I don’t know what the reason is. And quite honestly, I don’t really care why Oman has an open alcohol policy. But I am happy and thankful to live here just the same because sometimes, a nice cold Belgian beer or a tall glass of South African Shiraz is just the antidote required after a long day.

So, here we are in a slightly dry country learning the ins and outs of how to purchase a drink which requires a bit of work.

First, you need to get a liquor license. Yes! A LICENSE to buy. And to get said license, you need to first become an Omani resident. With that resident card in hand, you then go to the police station with a smattering of paperwork (including a letter from your employer that states your salary as you’re only granted permission to spend up to 10% of your salary on alcohol). Once you’ve paid a fee, signed some documents, and submitted passport-size photos you are granted a license.

 

And…you’re nearly there.

Alcohol is hidden in shops with blacked out doors and no windows! Like this:

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Dodgy, right?

Once through the doors you arrive in a mecca (bad choice of words) of alcohol products. Beers. Wines. Spirits. Oh my!

Most beers are sold by the case (because why buy 1 when you could buy 24?). But you better be satisfied with your choices because your liquor license authorizes you to spend only up to a specific amount of money per month and not a rial more. This limit (which is listed in your license and tracked without error) makes shopping for alcohol a planned activity. Questions like How many beers do we have at home? or Do you think they’ll prefer red or white with dinner? are actual conversations people need to have before entering through the bulky black doors.

The other thing we’ve learned is–you don’t waste your purchase power! If you are allowed to spend 50 OMR ($129/€116) per month, you spend it! You spend ever baisa (read: cent) you have been allotted because your unspent limit doesn’t roll over from month to month. And since you can’t just go and pick things up when the last minute game night is planned–you’ll need to hoard a few drinks in your cupboards. You need a mini stockpile to get you through the dry month of Ramadan or those evenings when you invite 20 people over for dinner so you can offer them a caipirinha or an after dinner drink.

And once you understand the license, the limit, and the planning issues you’ve got one more thing to consider. How do I get it home? The secret is the black plastic shopping bag. It is this miracle item (accompanied by your receipt and license) that allows you to transport your purchases home (the only legal place you are allowed to consume) without anyone knowing what you’ve got in there. Yeah right!

For tourists and those out and about, alcohol is available at hotels and restaurants around the city… at a price. I think a delicious (yes, I’m being sarcastic) Budweiser or Corona will run you about 2.5 OMR ($6.5/€5.8) so your best bet is to have a drink at a friend’s house.

That said, the country has a NO TOLERANCE policy for drunk driving. Driving under any influence of alcohol can result in immediate jail time and huge fines.


Anyway, we’ve got it all sorted out. We’ve now got a mini stash for your upcoming visit (hint, hint).

On a side note, I’m not sure if I should have called this post the Beer Bizarre or Beer Bazaar because buying and drinking alcoholic beverages in Oman can be a bit of both!

another one bites the dust

da4be-dsc_0252Well loved ones, another summer bites the dust! And what a summer it was. During our adventures, we travelled another 15,800 mi./25,400 km. (with another 5,700 mi./9,200 km. to go), met two new babies, hugged and kissed our loved ones hundreds of times, and laughed, and laughed… and laughed!

Our fun started in California with another whirlwind trip. The time was made spectacular by meeting the newest addition to the Fagundes clan–Roman. He is such a happy (and huge!) baby. Another perk was seeing my grandma, Nama, doing so well and living at home again! The Fagundes household was bursting at the seams with no room left at the inn, but the high volume of guests made for great chats in the garden with loved ones from all over the globe.

Towards the end of our time in the states, we were able to squeeze in an important familial event–Roman’s baptism. The group of honored attendees made the event so intimate and beautiful despite the fact that Roman did not want to be dressed up and the center of attention!

The next stop was Belgium.1c007-image_25

Thanks to my dad and his Delta benefits, the four exhausted Langlands’ slept in Business Elite during most of the JFK-BRU flight (a privilege most 8 and 9 year olds don’t get regularly!) When we arrived in Belgium, we hit the ground running with shopping sprees for clothes, shoes, and beer! After 5 years in Muslim countries, Rob has continued to explore his homeland for the newest and finest beers they have to offer. In just 2 years he has tasted and ranked over 80+ beers. He is eager to have some of our international friends visit in the summer so he has an excuse to try even more beers.

Our wedding anniversary was documented in Belgium this year with a national fete. The country, celebrating its regular independence day, also relished in the crowning of their new king (the former having stepped down to bestow the honor upon one of his sons). Another great event was meeting the newest addition to the Belgian family by hugging “the brut”, Vince.

Of course our summer could not be complete without some sort of hitch in our plans. This years’ chaos led Anouk to the hospital with pneumonia and bronchitis (which she loves saying the Belgian way–bronshit!) After two nights in the hospital (where breakfast and dinner included Nutella sandwiches) Anouk was sent home with a stint so she could return for daily IVs. She is doing well and this experience has left her with a positive hospital experience– thank goodness!

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00cb1-image_13The most important package delivered to the house this summer included our South African visas. Though Rob will be the only one entering the country with a visa, the timing allowed for our shipment to depart Indonesia with our dog, hopefully, following soon.

We depart for Africa 2.0 tomorrow. We have heard that our brand new house is stunning and even has it’s own pool. We are eager to meet our new colleagues, make new friends, and see what life in South Africa has to offer.

Until then, it’s been another great summer… one that we are grateful for!

To see some photos of our great summer, keep scrolling down and check out our Flickr feed.