So on the plane ride over here, I was definitely in faux-Theroux mode, meeting all sorts of people going all sorts of places (Omar was off to Switzerland, Marie to Paris). Now, it's pretty much straight Lawrence of Arabia mode. We've having lectures with some of the top-notch intellectual caliber people in this country, and the SIT office is starting to feel like an intellectual embassy. Just as the US embassy in Muscat is as much a part of the US as Chagrin Falls, our office feels like we have the exact same intellectual freedoms as in the state, despite the government here. Granted it could get shut down, unlike an embassy. But, we get to hear things that most people Oman will never hear, or simply can't accept. It's starting intellectually weird me out thinking that a bunch of American students rotate through every 6 months and hear these intelectually dynamite speakers, and take for granted what the speakers will never be able to convince the natives. Then, we go home and never have our crossing-the-Sinai moment. For a diehard democratic peace type like myself, it's a little bit of shock-and-awe on my philospohical state.