Welcome to Bahrain!! Desert communique #1

Saturday morning,

I think I'm pretty predictable in terms of my blog posts.  Even though the time zone keeps changing for me, I am pretty much a creature of habit so- onward. I am sitting on the couch drinking my french press coffee!!! Yes, I'm back into action with the new french press that I bought in Marquette Michigan this summer during my Amerika summer 2013 Odyssey.  It makes me happy...

The new addition to this equation is that I have never had to write a blog while under the intoxication of... air conditioning.  Even in SE Turkey in the heat of summer I didn't NEED air con... So, this will take some getting used to. More on that later. Now let me recap my adventures yesterday.

This is my 2nd morning in Bahrain.  Yesterday Lynette, the Fulbright scholar, and I  went shopping!  What a better thing to do when you move to a foreign place than nest, and buy things to make your nesting more comfortable! She has already been here a week so has things down.  We hopped in her car and voom voom off we went to Lulu Hipermarket or something like that.

I have to say right off the bat that things are cheap here- at least when comparing to things in Turkey... Gasoline, groceries, alcohol, health foods, etc.  As well, people speak English here, and quite well. No one is staring at me like I am 'out of place.' It is quite typical a scene here for the Gulf peeps to see foreigners.

I had made plans previously yesterday morning to spend the afternoon with another friend, Lynn.  So as Lynette and I pulled up into the parking lot at the apartment after a successful shopping endeavor, Lynn was pulling up in his rig- a totally tricked out 4x4 jeep just made for this terrain.  For the next 5 hours we cruised the island- many times off road.  I'm talking off off-road... What a hoot.  He is a big time geo-cache fanatic (listen up Katie-girl!!!) so we stopped off for some sign-ins, as well as setting up a new cache along some beach.

NOTE: just re-upped my coffee!!! Oh how I adore this routine. Of course, I should have taken advantage of my jetlag and went running when I was up at 6 am, but I didn't... Alas... I even had an offer to go running today with the Bahrain Roadrunners Club, but I just don't think I'm ready to deal with it on day 2 in the desert.

But I digress... So, we nearly circumnavigated all of Manama Island yesterday. BTW, Bahrain is made up of approximately 33 islands with Manama Island being the largest, as well as where the capital, Manama, is located.  We hit up local fishing villages, went to the southern tip where this huge resort-style housing project is that is made up of a cluster of man-made island luxury villas. We went to/through the interior sand pile. We saw this famous "Tree of Life" which is interesting because in Hawaii we call this a Kiawe Tree and we generally don't like them- mostly because of the nasty thorns on them.  These here don't have thorns.  But it is so called the Tree of Life because it is in the middle of the desert with no other plant life to really speak about.  Now, science tells us that Kiawe trees (also where Mesquite wood comes from and makes for a roaring hot BBQ) have root systems that dig deep.  So, to me, the mystery isn't very mysterious.  But at the very least, it is a tourist attraction in its own right. This certainly made me smile though.

We also went to a few beaches.  You all know me- my heart was going 'pitter-patter pitter-patter' and then I saw the beaches.  Not exactly what I'm used to, but it was thrilling to be hanging at the Arabian Gulf. 

We went to some area where I can't remember the name of the city (selective amnesia) and it was interesting to say the least.  Very colorful scenes I took in. Lynn was an awesome tour guide and I have to say, I was laid out the red carpet treatment. My kinda red carpet- the offbeat kind. 

When I get deposited back to my apartment, which is quite cute BTW, I was already feeling the jet lag start to seep in.  I didn't think I was really going to get hit up with it, but... It could just be that I was tired and dehydrated... At one point we got out of the jeep (he has this remote control that turns the jeep on as we're walking back to get the air con going before entering- tricky), and I was just a ball of sweat.  We were looking for a micro (Geo)cache that was no longer there. So we put up another one.  All in all, I think we hit up 4 geocaches yesterday.  Okay, I know I am moving all around here with this written commentary... So just to keep up with this labyrinth of madness that is my mind, I'll digress even more...

I arrived here on Thursday night at about 8pm.  The university had their man pick me up, get me through customs effortlessly- BAM , set me up with a sim card- BAM, and outta there we were.  Ali was awesome.  As we drove around, we had already solved the world's problems.  He dropped me off at my apartment, that was already prepped with food, bedding, and air con on full blast- BAM.
I mean, the entire thing was first class.  I didn't exactly have this experience at my last few places. I mean, they tried, but the first few days were rough.  So this experience already had me in awe. (I have to say though that my Turkish Buddy in Gaziantep, Mihrican, was totally awesome in helping me move myself around when I first arrived there.)

About an hour later, as I was happily unpacking, Lynette knocked on my door (I've already introduced you guys to her).  It felt so normal- already having someone visit me. We ended up going for a late night walk (it was already 11pm) at the nearby park with a running track/work-out area. 1 lap is 1 km so we went through a few rounds. What I noticed first off was that there were a few other females out as well walking/working out.  One girl was walking alone in full abaya/hijab and looked totally at ease. Another girl was sitting on the ground using a bench to do sit-ups.  I was amazed.  At the other end was a few groups of guys sitting on the benches and talking.  A couple guys also started to run on the track.  Anyway, it was a relief to see that this is a typical thing to do and there is no need to feel out of place. Afterwards, I started nesting again and was up until about 4:30 am... I knew I was in trouble when I (faintly) heard the 4am call to prayer.  It was time to have my first sleep.  Incidentally, the bed is HUGE.  It is prolly a California King size mattress.  I mean, you get lost sleeping.  I can prolly roll over 3x and still not fall off the bed... This made me laugh when I saw it as in Gaziantep we were provided with twin-size beds... Haha.  This point does not go unnoticed...

So last night after a full day of adventures- both shopping and sightseeing- I was starting to get tired.  Here it starts getting dark around 6pm.  I think it is due to the haze.  I'm not sure though.  I'll research it.  Lynette and I were going to grab some chow, but I pooped out.  I was out by 9pm, and then up at 3:30 am... At least I didn't get outta bed until 6:30 am... It's now 7:30 am Saturday morning- our Sunday.  I start work tomorrow... I don't believe classes start until the 25th or so though.

Speaking of which, work, I'm quite happy to be getting back to it.  This is the first time I've taken full advantage of 3 full months off work.  Gosh it feels great.  I mean, summer was AWESOME this year.  I traveled all around Turkey first, then flew back to Hawaii and went island-hopping all summer, went on a cross-country Amerika semi-truck odyssey.  Visited family in the UP and went out sightseeing with them.  Hit up the east coast and DC, and then some rest time back on Maui again. 

Now it's time to get down to work, but first there is this last day of freedom!  Lynette and I are going to go out and explore the island today.  Not sure what that entails, but I'm hoping to go to one of my new co-worker's garage and pick up stuff that the last Fellow left for me (I love me some swag!) as well as head to the Organic Health Food Cafe/store by the... Seef Mall I believe.  Those people have been so great with their Facebook page.  This entire 3 months I have FB'd them questions about products that they carry, etc.  I definitely want to meet them because... just because!

I should explain about my apartment a bit.  First, it's huge.  It's a 2 BD/2 BA with a huge living room, dining room table (with a hutch) and separate office area.  The kitchen is fully equipped and there is air con in every room but the bathrooms.  Fans are everywhere (duh), and I have both a front and back lanai ('porch' in Hawaiian).  I have a washer in the kitchen! There is enough room to have a little garden (I brought seeds) and meditation area.  The outside views are defined by white-washed buildings with stairs going up to rooftop patios.  I haven't seen any neighbors yet, but I'm thinking that is due to the weather. There is apparently a large pool here at the complex, but I have yet to explore the area.  Today's wishlist is just to find Mr. Raj and have him hook up my gas so I can start cooking, as well as, as I previously explained, go to a co-worker's garage and pick up house/work items that the previous Fellow left. 

The weather has changed from yesterday to today, I think.  This am there are clouds and it is windy.  Does this mean that a dust storm is nearing?  Eek! Okay, pictures to follow.  I'm too lazy to get it all hooked up/downloaded, etc.  As it is, I'm scarfing my neighbor's wifi until I get mine set up. Incidentally, that is why this communique is coming from my living room couch and not my bed- the wifi doesn't reach in there!

over and out,

I must add, again, that this is not spell-checked.  It is these very 'imperfections' that make this commentary all the more rich...