More of my mundane life...

Sami Bey and Jack-O-Lantern looking positively ghoulish...

Angie-baby and I at the pottery shack near Dumistan

"What's this", we ask ourselves...

'BBQ' near Dumistan 5 minutes later...

front row seat...

ho hum...

Plan B initiated to drive home
There's something about the wind, today.  There's something about the steady light to moderate breeze that;s been blowing this past week. Something is brewing. Yesterday was THE day, I realize this morning as I lay in bed with my beloved coffee that's been exquisitely french pressed.  Poured to perfection with just the right amount of organic rice milk (yes, I can buy that stuff here, and cheap).

What I realize is that yesterday was the first day that I have not had the air conditioner on AT ALL in the house!  Unbelievable. This is monumental, and worth sharing as I'm not an air con type, but it is absolutely essential here unless you want to fry your eyeballs out... I did, though, have to use the air con in my car driving to work, but that will come to pass as well in due time.

Speaking of work, Angie-baby found a new short-cut through our hood to by-pass the dreaded Riffa Clocktower Roundabout! Since 2 entrances into A`ali from Wali al Ahd Highway have been police  barricaded for as long as I've been here, there is no alternative but to get stuck in traffic jam during morning rush hour (lucky I don't have to be commuting at this time this year though). Nevertheless, it is always difficult to just wait it out in traffic while others decide to use the shoulder lane, or drive in the dirt until that is barricaded and then squeeze into traffic as they so think they are important and entitled enough to do here... Another reason I cuss continuously when behind the wheel here.  Traffic really is bad, and 3/4 of the drivers on the road really are shitty drivers as well... These 2 elements fused together creates a speedball of frustration that shoots through one's veins and wrecks havoc on my zen space. Not a good trip...

I have to say I've missed writing posts in bed on Friday mornings with coffee.  It seems my only moments in time that I am in that 'space' to want to write.  First of all, it's been pretty hot until now, which makes it difficult to lay around in bed since the air con needs to be on and that noise... The noise coming out of the cold box is a deterrent to that 'space' that needs to be created.  Also, I've been trying to not drink coffee on mornings I don't work... I figure I don't need the kickstart on those days so I'm trying something new- green tea, or just going without any hot beverage.  Meh...

My night runs have turned into late evening runs too!  Another reason to celebrate the days since fall equinox.  Last night was the best yet- 7km.  I did 2 km of walking in there, but it felt great. I'm still working on more interesting running music podcasts out there so if anyone has some link for me, please send it my way.  This past week I've been listening to some jazz tracks podcast that is pretty great and has no interruptions. Last night's mix was super funky.  My fav album of The Supreme Beings of Leisure was mixed into a smooth groove and it brought me to 'that space' where everything was just so fine and I was flying by (probably not 'flying' by, but I was flying high on endorphins)!

The cross-island relay is coming up next weekend (on Halloween morning). I'm not on a team yet as there is always last minute changes and one can find a spot.  I'm ready for it, as long as it's not a downhill stretch...

My new running shoes I got in DC this summer (Saucony's- who knew?) have really been essential to my increased pleasure during my runs.  I guess I wasn't exactly cut out for minimal shoes and I do need some more support for my lower back.  Anyway, I'm happy that I spend the money to have someone look at how I run and access my ability and combine it with my limitations (lower back shit). Haha, the appointment even convinced my dear friend Selin to buy a pair as well :)  Selin I hope you are loving your shoes!!!

Today is Diwali festivities inside the Hindu temple in the souk.  I've received permission from Mr. Sharad, one of the admin, to attend along with 4 other friends.  I'm pretty excited!  I've been in the temple before on occasion, but never for a festival evening. 

I think I'm also missing the colorful Kathmandu.  Yes, I went to Nepal during my blogging hiatus.  I had nearly a week off for Eid so hopped on a cheap flight and found myself nestled on the foot of the Himalayas. Now, Kathmandu is a polluted city and nearly all the population wears the requisite fabric face mask in an effort to stamp out some of that pollution from clogging up their nostrils... But the people!  The people are so friendly and wear such colorful, beautiful garb- both men and women.  I really enjoyed people watching there.  I was so enamored with the national garb that I purchased quite a few 'Corta's' or dresses.  I will put up a separate post of pictures from Nepal soon.

I generally don't talk a lot about work on my blog for a variety of reasons, but so far the year has been pretty successful.  I am doing a study on attitudes of professional development here in the Kingdom so excited to conduct some research again and get into that, other 'space' in academia.  I've just heard word that an ELF midyear conference is definitely coming up and likely held again in either Morocco or Jordan so this is good news.  TESOL Arabia is also coming up in March, so a bit of work/play is in store for me elsewhere on the globe.  Midyear break?  Turkey.  It's a no-brainer.  Miss the shit outta that country, as screwed up as the govt is... I'm hoping for snow and rain- heh heh my friends there are probably recoiling at the thought reading this!

Thinking about work inevitably brings me to thoughts on- what next?  I'm plotting as I type for Plan A (yes yes yes yes yes), Plan B (okay), Plan C (solid C), Plan D (decent ), Plan E, (alright), Plan F (jobless). That's about how the ducks are stacking up at this time!  All plans involve a move, along with Shaika Spot and Sami Bey.  Most all involve sticking 'near the region', yet one involves a short stay in Amerika... Other plans will likely arise.  I mean, I don't like to discriminate, and I like the idea of remaining fluid and flexible. 

All Hallow's Eve/All Saint's Day/ Day of the Dead!!! Yes, my favorite American pagan holiday, Halloween,  is coming around the corner.  It's also fixing to be a jam-packed holiday weekend (Ashura is celebrated on Sunday/Monday here) as there is the cross-island run, Halloween night, and then a boat trip to camp out on Hawar Island. I'm hoping for some excellent snorkeling and decent temperatures (not above 85• please).

This is another long weekend as al Hijri is on Sunday (the Islamic New Year). Saturday will mark the new Muslim Hijri year 1436 AH, so Sunday will be a holiday. According to the Hijri calendar, there are 354 days in a year. Traditionally, the first day of each month begins at sunset at the first sighting of the crescent moon- hilal. The first Islamic year was AD 622, in which started the migration of Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Medina ("the Hijra"). This concludes my basic knowledge of the Islamic calendar.

Okay, it's 11am now and I'm hungry.  I can't drink any more coffee.  I can't continue to sequester myself away any longer in the sanctuary of my cool, dark bedroom. I'm up...


The power of a fading memory to be re-birthed every year

Sliding into my 2nd week back here in the Middle Eastern sandbox and I'm feeling at home, again. I feel I'm fairly acclimated- so much that I can tell that the weather this September is slightly 'cooler' than last September... By cooler I mean 100º F instead of 110º F on a daily basis...

It helps to just jump back into life where you left off, which I have.  Work started up immediately. Ladies who Lunch started up immediately. The running club started up immediately. My glorious trips to Lulu Hypermart started up immediately. Cussing while driving started up immediately, etc.

Also, vacation planning started up immediately.  Within one week of boots on the ground in Bahrain, I had myself a round-trip ticket to Nepal for next month's Eid holiday :)  Who would have thought? So, yes, my return to the desert has been smooth. Even the jet lag isn't terribly inconvenient. Of course, the kitties make everything better at home, even though Sami Bey must be kept away from all fabric... He has the jaws of fashion-death- or the saliva of fashion death more appropriately.

As I lay in bed typing my thoughts though, I am reminded of 9/11.  I was reading some posts from friends in America and it occurred to me that it was 9/11 yesterday... It escaped me. I knew it was there in the back of my mind, but distance distracts. Actually, as I work out the math right now, it still is 9/11 in America (Friday 7:30am here = Thursday evening 6:30 pm in Hawaii). 

It got me to thinking more about it as I read more memorial postings online. It's fascinating for me because this is a collective American 'soil' experience (of course this is a collective worldwide experience), that I didn't experience on American 'soil.' I was traveling in the Sahara Desert at the time. I was in Merzouga, Morocco. My singular experience (I was the only American where I was) was of ... detachment I guess is a decent word to use.  I couldn't fathom the intensity of the situation at that point. Perhaps I was in shock and that absorbed my emotional turbulence.

What I recall was that the day passed in a slow-motion Ken Burns-effect kinda way. It was so surreal. I wanted to go out into the desert and ponder life, but here I was in this situation where my hosts (North African Tuareg Berbers) wanted to shelter me and keep me comforted.  They were so raw and honest in their manner with me. They kept me in their open-air style living area where there was a tv broadcasting the news (just outside was a large satellite dish). I was receiving the news before any of my friends back in Hawaii did as they were still sleeping. I was in a room of strangers- except my travel companions (Christian the German, and 'Yo' the Korean kinda drag queen) that I had met weeks earlier on a ferry boat traveling from Algeciras, Spain to Tangier, Morocco.

These so called 'strangers' wormed their way into my mind and heart.  I kept thinking that I didn't need comforting.  I just wanted to be 'normal', yet they kept insisting that I open my heart to their desire to heal me. At some point I could no longer object.  I gave in to their nurturing ways.  I felt like a fledgling that got left behind by the rest of the pack. They hovered over me like a pack of vultures and showered me with food and tea!  They gave me space.  They asked me questions. They wanted to know if I needed to get a ride into the nearest village to find an internet cafe so I could let my family know I was safe.  I had to laugh as I thought to myself, "This is the safest place in the world to be right now. Certainly safer than America presently."

Morning turned into afternoon turned into evening.  There was a constant flow of traffic throughout the day.  Perhaps everybody had heard that there was an American at the hostel, I'm not sure.  People came and sat in the living space with us.  We were all huddled together.  Even the women were with us. The children were running all around unaffected by the televised chaos.

Some men took it upon themselves to start packing my carpet up that I had just purchased days before nearby. They suggested that it would be better to pack it out with me when I left, instead of sending it off at the post office. I remember very clearly one man that spoke English said to me, "This is not us. We are not terrorists. People are people. Governments are governments." He looked me hard in the eye.  I understood. He knew I understood.

As nighttime descended, I remember going up to the roof and staring at the stars. Just staring into space, thinking. Trying to think of what the sentiment of America was in those moments. Obviously I had an idea, but...

The German (a flying doctor) came back into the camp that night. He was heading out in the morning. Would he give us a lift to the nearest town/bus station? Of course.  He had a Landcruiser and looked like an aging Lawrence of Arabia, wearing a traditional Tuareg Shesh (blue cloth turban). What ensued was an amazing all-day journey through dusty roads with tracks (no 'road lanes' per say as there was no road). Many stops at wells to take water- always checking for snakes hiding underneath rocks first.  The landscape was so soothing.  It was a moving picture show. We were driving so fast actually with only occasional passings of other cars in various states of needing repairs, camels, donkey carts, etc. At every pit-stop came a collective of children swarming the Toyota wanting pens, watches, coins, anything. The day played out like a symphony that I was partially following on a conscious level. I remember we stopped at some point at this ritzy hotel and had tea. We were all dusty. It didn't matter.  The German was someone of importance that everybody in the country seemed to know. I thought back to  a week earlier when he took me out into the desert one night deep in the sand dunes so we could just chat and watch the stars. I'll always remember that night.  We were enveloped in the dunes.  We  walked to their crests and rolled down.  We were children. We had no worries in the world.

...And then just like that the Toyota drove out of our lives.  We 3 stood outside the ritzy hotel waving goodbye to The German. We collected our belongings and walked down the street to the bus station.


picture this: 2014 Rollin Thru Amerika on 18 Wheels Semi-truck "Truck" Tour photo odyssey

I realized when I was blogging about my adventures across Amerika I couldn't post pictures as well because the internet wasn't strong enough at the truck stops that we hung out in. So, I've compiled a list of pictures from my odyssey.  Enjoy!

 Truck stops are a wealth of information and entertainment...
morning line-up

cuppa joe to start the daily odyssey off right

"Truck" mascot. Our guiding light

"Truck" gets all squeaky clean

SoCal desert


Palm Springs environs
another roadside attraction


hit up a lot of these on the "Truck" truck tour...

immigration woes for some

the man that makes it happen

another scenic stunner

crossing our 1st stateline
everything is (always) illuminated

lots of border patrol stops on North America's southern border

heading up into the pass

lookie lookie, another rest stop...

fortunately rest areas are nearly evenly spaced out every 2 hours...

America's Southwest at its finest

another stunner

got quite familiar with the Iron Skillet menu across America
metropolis ahead...

random 4-corners

this rest area was a beauty

good information to know before heading into the bathrooms...

blending in with the sky

"Truck" in all her glory

another cool Arizona rest area

America's love of oil. Nom nom nom...

looks like dynamite to me.  That's one way to cut through the mountain...


another concrete maze

pastoral Texas, or Oklahoma, or Arkansas...

lots of upcoming waterways

we hit up many casinos on our semi-truck "Truck" tour...

small town Amerika, lots of them on this route

scenes from a highway
a source of trucker pride

they got board being limited to making duck callers... Nice to see the Duck Dynasty dynasty diversifying

small town Amerika skyscraper


truck pods

yep... be careful who you pick up out here on the lonely highway


Louisiana industry
Louisiana charm

entering New Orleans!

Louisiana in spirit

Bayou country

waterways are endless in these parts

the famous Tiger Truck Stop, Louisiana

one of the many bridges of Louisiana

somewhere in Georgia

a mighty purdy rest area in North Carolina

overflow parking...

Virginia blossoms!

one way or another, I'm gonna get there...
let's add some rain to the mix- finally...

slow down everybody

 Pennsylvania is so beautiful and mountainous.

West Virginia blooming

rural living

 You think?
Ohio keeping it classy at the truck stop :)