Tis the season to be Holly fa la la la la, la la la la...

So here I am on a cold Tuesday morning (Oracle says 60º) in bed.  I've already drank my coffee, and had a really hot shower.  Now I'm back in bed to see if I can repeat yesterday's 'lounge all day in bed and watch The Tudors seasons 1 and 2. Why am I in bed you ask?  Well, first because it's Bahrain's National Day celebrations, which means it's an official 2-day holiday.  Second, well, there seems to be many demonstrations around the island so it's a good time to catch up on... well, The Tudors seasons 1 & 2...

I've hit my 3.5 month mark here in my host island nation and I've decided that I'm pretty content.  Work is going well- busy but accomplishing a lot.  Shaika Spot Nohealani is growing up fast and becoming a fierce warrior princess kitty kat. There is plenty to do on this island to keep one's interest- perhaps more even than back home in Hawaii... I'm talking about places to go/things to do on a cultural level in a social setting in a sorta-urban environment... I don't know if I'm explaining myself properly here so I'll break it down for you all:  I now need to refer to my iCal to see what it is I am doing on a daily basis... I've never needed to do this before- in terms of really needing to remember my social engagements... Strange...

Upcoming said social engagements include: Morocco (next week) and Turkey/Greece (next month) so these please me greatly! Now, if only I can dedicate some time in my busy schedule today to make my PowerPoint for my upcoming ELF mini-conference next week, right before the MATE conference...

Speaking of the holidays, Christmas Eve/Day, I'm hanging with the Fulbright crew and other kindred spirits.  I believe we have narrowed it down to a homemade dinner on Christmas Eve and other merriment & debauchery (not too debauchery as I have to work Christmas Day). I'm thinking 'debauchery' = board games with some adult beverages). On Christmas Day we're gathering and breaking bread again- this time in public downtown in Adliya at some hip and trendy restaurant that is known for packing a lot of meat on their menu.  Then we're headed to... THE MALL... Heh heh, no worries folks.  It's only to hit up the movies and watch the new Christmas movie that is out right now. Then I'm off to Morocco on my sleigh ride through the night sky!

I'm at a loss for words so I'll just post pictures of what I've been up to in the recent past.  Enjoy and Happy Holidaze to you all!
Some of my students came bearing gifts for my birthday!

BBQ at Feriyha's!

Arvin, BBQ technician extraordinaire


eye-spy Yusuf spying

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almost chow time...

girls being girls having girl talk, right?

Arvin explaining his technique to Yusuf, who is absorbing it all

Karim and Yusuf - ready to devour food. We're all ready to devour food actually...

Shaika Spot take 1

Shaika Spot take 2

Shaika Spot take 3- with my puppet I made when the puppet master came to the university for a workshop on using puppets in the classroom. 

At the US Ambassador's holiday party

me with Mr. and Mrs. Ambassador Krajesky

on a walkabout in Adliya during a Christmas shopping excursion at an outdoor holiday bazaar at Block 338

another BBQ- this time at a geocaching event with the club!  Some 'bonfires' in the distance...

big 'bonfire' in what looks to be near my neighborhood...

good fun, and great food, was had by all!

Fatima and Khalid were the hosts of this BBQ! OMG the food was delicious!

smile everybody!

shadow selfie with the crew


The Good Omen

It's been a while since I've donned my blogging cap. There is much to tell.  I'll first say that things are going swimmingly.  Life is rolling along and I'm in the groove.  I am in that 'reflective' mood as I've just had another revolution around the sun.  My students surprised me with loads of sugary delights. The Fulbrighters surprised me with more sugary treats- but with the addition of alcohol- and a rousing game of Apples to Apples.  It's funny how when I play A-T-A here, I never get any green cards as no one seems to really get my sense of humor over here :) I mentioned this and we all just cracked up.  F was the winner of the evening.  That is one sly, smooth game operator.  She just sits quietly plotting the entire time, just listening to us and playing her cool, calm & collective thang and then all-of-the-sudden BAM! She swoops up another coveted green card... She'd be a great poker player...

Another milestone passed certainly has to be the addition of Miss Shaika Spot Makalolo Nohealani Al Dilmun i ke kai `o Hawai`i Nei.  Yes folks, I have a new girl-kitten.  Starlight had planned it all out... She knew I was going to take her all along :) She lured me over to her bat-girl cave and enticed me with viewing all the homeless kitties that she takes in. Shaika Spot immediately had a certain curiosity about me, and the feeling was likewise. So... I'm officially a family at this point here in my host island nation.

Here are some pictures so you can see the evolution of me turning into 'crazy cat woman' yet again.  It was certainly hard accepting that Kolohe Kitty Kat (aka Jacky Love) had passed onto kitty heaven and he would no longer be my faithful companion- as well as the editor-in-chief of corrections of this blog.  I'll train Shaika Spot for that position and then you all can make official grammatical complaints to her...

In other riveting news... upcoming travel adventures are on the horizon- tickets already purchased.  Some involve official work duties (Morocco), and others are sheer pleasure (Turkey).  I'll be in Morocco for a week I'm happy to report.  It's been since 2001 since I was last there.  Turkey, of course, is my love that doesn't seem to ever die off... even with a nutcase running the country.

It seems that my days and evenings are filled with interesting things to do.  There is always some lecture to attend or function.  One day last weekend was just boom-boom-boom from one place to another.  As most of you know, I tend to not operate efficiently at this pace.  I enjoy the 'lounging approach' to life in general.  I like to lounge at the beach most especially with nothing on the agenda but relaxation.

I've also been digging around into the past here.  I volunteer at the A`ali Royal Burial Mounds with the Danish archaeological crew and the Bahrain School high school kids.  It's so interesting to see different approaches to archaeology.  It's like learning how to ride a bicycle again almost- in terms of learning, and understanding, about different stratigraphy, different cultural habits and how that applied to what is left in the archaeological record, etc.  You have a certain background knowledge, but then it expands into WOW!

What is so interesting here is that, first, that there are so many burial mounds.  Then that they are so large- the royal ones anyway.  There was not a tradition of a 'family mound' in that each time a family member passes, they go to their mound and re-open it and in goes the latest burial- which, of course, displaces the previous one generally.  So, this is a happy addition to weekend life.  I believe there is only this weekend remaining and then the crew returns to Denmark. Not to fear though as another, French, crew is coming within the month to start excavations at the Tree of Life in the Central Governate.

Work is going well- as usual.  Just a steady busy.  I am really getting to understand my students and see their individual personalities.  I love this point.  I start to see them as individuals and their individual goals start becoming apparent.  They really are good students.  The semester is nearing the end so it's coming into 'crunch time' with not enough classroom hours left.  It all works out in the end though.

On an ending note, The Good Omen... This is a short film directed by an up-&-coming Bahraini director, Mohammad Buali. I attended this lecture (link below) at the French Cultural Institute (which just happens to be 3 minutes away from my apartment)! I highly suggest you watch his film (YouTube link below).



I feel like Bahrain is The Good Omen for where my life is at right now, and where I'm heading!


PPD Bahrain...

There is so goodness in the atmosphere today that I want to write about it, yet my fingers are forcing me to diverge a bit.  I am compelled by the urge to just put 1 dig in about this sweet host country: PPD Bahrain...

You know what that stands for?  No, you don't yet.  Let me slowly lead up to it and perhaps you call can guess.  PISS POOR DRIVING BAHRAIN.  Yea, how's that for a simple, single clue??? Now I hate to generalize because it means nothing. I'll just say that drivers are reckless and rude on a more or less continual basis.  There is no 'island mentality' here like there is on my home island back in the South Seas where everybody is just chill (Oahu excluded, but the rest of the Hawaiian Island chain I think still follows this anthem).

Driving here is DEFENSIVE, for me anyway.  I'm not sure why everybody is so agitated behind the wheel here (there I go generalizing again), but it leads me to a lot of cussing.  People are so impatient.  WTF is up with impatient drivers in middle lane going into right lane and overtaking and swerving back into middle lane while you, defensive and alert driver, are in the fast lane wanting to get out of the way of a car barreling at you that you can see in your rear view mirror.  So, yes I am looking at my right-side mirror and see the large truck in the middle lane.  I see I have plenty of time to switch lanes. I signal and start my move and all of the sudden asshole driver in right lane impatiently passing truck is swerving back into middle lane and honking their horn at me for trying to complete a perfectly legal move.  This happens DAILY. People here are very impatient.  I start to wonder why a lot when I am stuck in traffic- which happens a lot. 

Another scenario: people driving piggy SUVs here (well, honestly not considered so 'piggy' over here as gasoline is so cheap, unlike Hawaii where I remember paying $5/gallon 4 years ago). Anyway, I guess I see a need for large SUVs here because drivers are so reckless that it's only tanks on the road that make one feel safe... It's not only SUVs either, I'm talking luxury cars also taking on speed bumps as if it's nothing.  They just don't care.  They then speed up behind me and I go slow before the upcoming speed bump and they are right there, on my ass.  Just like on the highway.  Right there on my ass as if it is going to get them anywhere.  This is where I would normally slow down if this happened in Hawaii (which was a rarity), but that's even too scary here because... well just because.  It's all about being logical, and I'm not about to play that game over here.

Always a crack-up for me (in my leased Nissan "Sunny"- a humble car by any means) is to watch in the rear-view mirror people going over speed bumps.  Again, peeps be in a hurry here- even while going over speed bumps.  All these piggy SUVs with limited suspension just BAM up and down.  Drivers just don't seem to care that they are f*cking up their cars suspension.  Whatever.  No skin off my back on that point.  That one simply amuses me because I know that I am indeed in no danger what-so-ever while watching this activity- which is more like a pasttime now that I drive so much. 

Granted, the speed bumps are nearly vertical here.  There usually is no warning that they are coming up.  No bright yellow lines. No signs.  Just some reflective dots (that are no longer reflective) sometimes.  So, as you might infer, I have a lot to think about behind the wheel here.  Oh wait, then there is another amusing scenario: The dude that is following you and trying to get parallel to you to simply be a leach. Then there is the hand signal like "hey, you want to pull over to the side and chat?" Perhaps they think I am talking to them as I am muttering under my breath (or aloud most likely) how shitty the drivers are here. 

It sounds amusing as I type this out, but it really pisses me off because the majority of the drivers on the road are shitty, AND are putting my life in danger because they are not aware.  I honestly don't know how some get their licenses to drive.  They must pay off the driving agency- which I live around the corner from here in A`ali.  This is the fun part because there are loads of student drivers going up and down the streets around my hood.  They are going v   e   r   y   slow.  I'm not sure what happens after that.  I can guess they receive their licenses and then morph into a speedster. 

Okay, I've had my say. I'm over it- for a few hours until I get behind the wheel again to head out to Starlight's place to  pick up my... wait for it... rescue kitty kat kitten!!! Yep, finally making the commitment.  It's been 6 years since Dr. Kolohe K Kitty Kat passed and I'm finally feline the need to get another feline friend (heh heh you like that?). Lynette (my downstairs neighbor) will co-parent with me as well.  Awww.

In other news, I ran the 1st of the 3-series Grand Prix Road Races held by my running club, the Bahrain Road Runners.  This morning's race was a 5K around the bridges of Muharraq Island.  Good fun and no back pain- what a speedball of delight that feels like let me say.  It wasn't too hot, and I had fabulous company.  Now, I've been watching Allie compete since I arrived in Bahrain, and she kicks ass.  So when she introduced me to Dawn this morning, I figured she would lead the pack as well.  Fortunately for me, she cruises- like me.  She was more like Yoda coaching me this morning, which was sweet.  Anyway, get this; she is a forensic anthropologist!  Like wow- one of my people! Two anthropologists meeting for the first time = guaranteed to be a great run because we gonna be shop-talking the entire time- which we indeed did.  So, I'm feeling grateful for the connection.  She also laughed at my jokes, which is pleasing too.

There were some serious peeps out this morning as well.  I mean some were wearing compression socks, etc.  I'm thinking to myself, 'it's only a 5k... compression socks- really?' I guess there is a reason for it, yet I'm not following.  There are always medical reasons, of course so there is that... I guess the weather is still considered hot for some.  I must be acclimating alright as I thought it was simply balmy and not at all overbearing with a wall of heat descending down onto me and penetrating my epidermis- like it was a month ago.  I've also decided that bringing along the Burt's Bees Mint foot massage cream was a brilliant move as I put some on in the am and put slippahs on and get to the event and put running shoes on and everything feeling minty fresh.  It also goes with the Dr. Bronner Peppermint Body Wash that I brought from Hawaii as well.  Another good move indeed as there is nowhere to buy it over here.  I brought loads of it too! 

Since I'm scattered and writing about whatever comes to mind at this point, I'm going to say that... No, no I'm not.  I'm not going there today.  In fact, this is it for today...

-signing off without spell-checking... yet again...



Today is Al Hijra New Year - 1435

This means that today, November 4 of the Gregorian calendar year, marks the beginning of a new Islamic calendar year. As tradition goes, The first Islamic yearwas in 610 AD during, when Mohammad left Mecca for Medina (the Hijira). The exact day is determined by the sighting of the new moon.

What does that translate as for me?  A hollyday!!! And this means another trek to some interesting historical place on the island(s).  Where shall I visit today? I've been in eye-spy mode lately and have been making a point to travel to a historic area every week here on my host island nation. 

Before all that though, I still need to just wake up.  I'm lazing on my couch drinking a fresh brew.  Because of my aversion to writing down important upcoming events on my iCal, I have a lot stored inside my cranium.  It all seeps out during the strangest moments.  I suddenly realize that I need to document all this as there is little hard drive space left upstairs and suddenly some important events will be over-written. In an effort to collect my marbles, I will share with you all this information.  As well, I will probably write it all down on iCal...

Tomorrow marks an important day as it's the first day that I'll be visiting one of the local schools that participate in the local English Access Micro-scholarship Program. My RELO will be there as well as a Fulbright TA.  It should be loads of good fun.  I think I'll do an activity based on the popular 'survivor-style' shows from the past...

Next up is travel to Morocco for a conference with MATE (Moroccan Association of Teachers of English).  I have been funded to give a presentation.  Now, to formulate the presentation... This takes time.  Time, in fact, that I should devote the day to.  *Scratches out schedule to visit historical landmark today and, instead, sit home on my Mac Book Pro and brainstorm*

Okay, now that I have THAT taken care of... Ugh.  It IS the right thing to do *feeling sorry for myself*  Next up is the local Bahrain TESOL Conference that I will be presenting at also.  Now, that is 2 presentations I need to draft up... Oh wait, there is also TESOL Arabia where I will likely present as well... Oh geeze... 

The great thing about this conference in Tangier is that is can be like a mini-vacation as well.  Of course I have to fund that part myself... That's alright though as I have a handful of friends that live in Morocco so I'll be knocking at their doorsteps soon. Another benefit is that it begins January 1, 2014 so that means... New Year's Eve in Morocco and/or Spain!!! This, of course, pleases me.

It's been about 12 years since I traveled through Morocco.  I visited some amazing places there and am looking forward to returning to the region.  I only briefly traveled through Tangier so this is a plus.  Nothing like a gritty port city to inspire one!  I recall reading Coco Chanel's biography and she mentioned hanging out at Yves Saint Laurent's 'Villa Mabrouka ' in Tangier. Lavish, lascivious, opulence, decadence; these are all adjectives that describe that storyline... and I hung onto every tantalizing word.

Fresh from Morocco puts me back in the pearl of the Middle East (here in Bahrain) nearing the end of the semester, which puts me in position to get outta town soon after and head to Turkey over the break.  I do miss Istanbul.  As well, I need a dose of wintertime.  I still have to run the air con some days here.  I want some cold, wet rain and snow. Lucky I still have my winter things packed away in various locations throughout Turkey...

Now I'm really beginning to feel the pressure of all that I have to do today...  As well, I'm waiting on some possible rainfall here today.  Last night it was clouding up and the radio guy said there was a possible chance of light showers... This was after I headed to Ric's Kountry Kitchen (diner) and had myself a bacon-cheeseburger and french fries while grading student assignments.  So a full belly of delightful American comfort food plus the possibility of rain sent me on my way home with pleasant thoughts.  I did end up topping off the evening with a corona or two which, apparently washed away the possibility of rain *opens up front door and peeks outside only to squint from the intense sunshine at 9am*


I leave you with some pictures of my last few traipsings to a few of the forts in Bahrain: Qal`at Bahrain and Qal`at Riffa.  Enjoy
Danish archeologists were giving a lecture here this day concerning the ongoing archaeological investigations at the Royal Burial Mounds at A`ali.

the entrance

land reclamation in progress...

the museum from the fort

Downtown Manama looming in the background

sun setting over the fort = brilliance

looks impenetrable

the hood behind the fort.  I saw a lot of people coming from the hood and running around the fort.  What a great running route!


desert skyscrapers

past archaeological investigations at the foot of the fort

the setting sun behind me cast a brilliant light play towards Manana

having a spiritual moment

in through the out door

Now I'm at the Riffa Fort, near my hood.

Looking down onto Hunanaiya Valley

East Riffa town

the 'burbs