I'm not in my typical blog mode: First, it's not morning. I'm not drinking coffee. I'm not lying in bed. It's 8pm, I'm drinking a Corona and lying on my couch...

About the corona. Well, I finally made it through all the paperwork and official letters and stamps (still need 'more stamps' to get a base parking pass- otherwise, I need to walk out all my alcohol purchases to my car in the public parking, which is rather far away). Now folks, I can purchase liquor on American soil here in Bahrain using American dollars and paying American prices. For alcohol, this is dirt cheap as I think all of us living abroad in the region know how expensive alcohol is to purchase- either in a club or in liquor stores, of which there are few to choose from.  To celebrate this new freedom I purchased a 6-pak of Corona and a 6-pak of Tecate (in cans). Guess I've got Mexico on my mind. Or Hawaii, as these beers I typically drink on island. 

I did get shot down in trying to get an APO box... Well, I'm not in the military after all, but I thought I'd try to play the emb. card. Failed. At least I have friends at the base that can sponsor my future purchases' deliveries... Ahem, you all know who you are.  I like to have my bases covered! Heh heh. 

I've been finally hitting my stride in the running game.  I've got 3 runs coming up the 1st 3 weekends of November and have been a bit worried about the 15k. Two nights ago I finally broke my Middle East curse! I ran 10k without dropping any steam! Can't believe it.  Tonight I celebrated by running at Al Hamala Beach Resort and putting in a decent 7k run. Also got to watch an incredible sunset as the orange flaming ball sank into the Gulf towards Saudi Arabia. Yes, I can see Saudi from my backyard sometimes...

Tomorrow night is our regular Thursday night fun-run/race with the Bahrain Road Runners club so this should be a breeze (3k only). Last weekend I ran in the Bahrain Marathon Relay and it kicked my ass.  I'm happy to see that the upcoming runs start early in the morning! Running in the middle of the day here- even as the temperatures have cooled to a steady mid-to-upper 80s- is just painful.  I did meet a great group of peeps though on the team that sponsored me: BIBF (Bahrain Institute of Banking & Finance).  They come from all over the world, like many working folks here.  I had a super great time and my network grows larger.

Halloween is coming up tomorrow. This is always my favorite American holiday, and it doubles as my dear father's birthday.  He's not of this plane of existence anymore, but I know he's watching over me- generally happy with my progress as a human being I hope...

For the theme this year, think the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland.  That's all I'm saying so far.  That's all I honestly know so far.  I spent Tuesday on a magical mystery tour for a variety of things and the results... well, we'll see.

Damn it's nice to throw back a Corona and sink into a state of relaxation! I managed to spend some time getting to know the Danish archaeological crew working on island for the dig season yesterday morning.  I got a tour of the current excavation site and will volunteer some time with them in the future.  Makes me feel like I'm back home.  I must say that archaeologists are just so very down to earth.  I mean, we work hard, we think too much, we put a lot into insights into the past, and we drink... Well, I don't know if they drink, yet... I mean, I've never met an archaeologist that doesn't drink honestly.  Maybe one of you who faithfully reads my column can prove me wrong, but I'm willing to bet that the only archs that don't drink are the ones who used to drink- too much... And with that, I'll get off this subject.  More coming up soon. I will have to be general in my descriptions as this is not my project (must remember this is NOT my project) so I'll mind my 'Ps' and 'Qs'.

In anticipation, though, of putting in some volunteer hours out in the field, I've been reading up on ancient Dilmun and Tylos (Bahrain).  The pre-history certainly does not disappoint.  Everything is so different from what I know about (Polynesian) archaeology, but it is like riding a bike- just in another country with a different geological background and cultural history with a different set of social customs... That's all...

So, if any of you are planning on a visit here, now is the time.  The weather is absolutely fabulous right now.  It's not too hot, and I don't even need air con on in the villa anymore at this point.  Hardly in the car as well.

signing off


having a look-see at the Bahrain National Museum

During Eid I spent some time on the island and decided that it's time to delve into Bahrain's past.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the National Museum a treasure chest of a unique historical legacy here in the Middle East. Just by looking at the size of Bahrain, one doesn't immediately see the importance it had/has in the region.  Such a small little island nation that holds such a huge legacy from the past. 

Small island, small museum, large treasure chest. Walking through the displays, I was left with an intense desire to delve deeper into Bahrain's past heritage.  The present is so in-your-face in terms of cutting edge architecture downtown, a large expat presence, glitzy shopping centers to whittle away time, and small (or large) fortunes while trying to keep cool during the intense summer months where air conditioning turns from necessity to life-saving staple. I see all that and, impressive as it is on some scale, doesn't do much for me.  I want to unfold Bahrain's past. I want to dig deep.  I want to be let in.  I want to understand what happened.

What happened?  I know this much to start: Dilmun happened.  Dilmun (the ancient name for Bahrain going back to 2500 BC) was important mainly as a trade center-obviously enough by its positioning as an island in the Arabian Sea. It is said that it did not engage in war.  To me, this means that there would have been a prolific engagement in the arts by its denizens.

The most significant artifacts unearthed are these Dilmun Seals.  They tend to depict ordinary life events in Dilmun. Were the seals units of monetary exchange? Were they made solely for the sake of art? Were they a sort of talisman?

There is reference to Dilmun being the Garden of Eden.  There is reference to Dilmun being where Gilgamesh came to in search for immortality (only to be tricked in the end). Dilmun is referenced as being the home of Utnapishtim- the man that God saved from 'The Flood'.  All this, of course, is based on loose interpretations, but who cares really.  This is interesting shit. Dilmun was special to the Sumerians and to 'Enki' in particular (the god of sweet water).

I'll write more about this as I find out more about this myself.  I'm not too comfortable writing this solely based on initial research of mine. As well, I'm not sure how to reference references...

At any rate, Dilmun was full of burial mounds- mostly in the central and some in the northern areas of the main island. Along with these mounds are the seals- that have been found in other locations of Mesopotamia as well. They serve as the main evidence for trade routes between Mesopotamia and as far away places as the Indus/Harapa civilization.

I promise I will get more information to you all about this soon.  For now, you will have to make do with these pictures I took of the museum. Most are of the exterior because it is just so modern and fits the landscape.  Very inspiring indeed.  Hope you enjoy!

The entire 1st floor flooring is a map of Bahrain.  It is really cool and interactive as well.  You can look at the display cases to see the relief maps and press buttons, and colored tape on the floor lights up to that part of the map on the floor, and leads to the walls, which have more information about the specific places.  I spent a lot of time looking at the ground at the museum.  I didn't notice a lot of other people doing this... I must have looked like a burned-out hippie chick looking for something on the floor that I dropped... heh heh

There was a display on loan from Russia. These were all traditional fabrics and costumes.  They were amazing. 


Ritz Carlton Bahrain Aquathon October 11, 2013 in photos

So... here's how it went down:


the first swimmers arriving

and the winner is!

and for some relaxation afterwards, Natalie hung out at the pool bar all day...

ahhhh Bahrain


26.0275° N, 50.5500° E

I had a quest.  I accepted the challenge.  I took upon it as with any endeavor I take up: I researched. I did reconnaissance surveys. I used critical thinking.  I compared.  I fantasized. I tried to trick myself. But ultimately, I kept the same core values that I was looking for in the front of my mind. I persevered. I fatigued. I remained steadfast to my heart.  I prevailed...

Yes folks, I found my fitness center!  Of course, that's not keeping me from checking out all the other ones that I still have free 1-day trials for... Like this morning I will trot off to a close runner-up, Fitness First in the World Trade Center.  I would likely consider joining this one for a month just based on eye candy value alone...

Alas, eye candy was not one of my core considerations when mulling over gym memberships.  Of course, "it" tried to worm its way into my brain, and nearly succeeded- a few times... The Riviera Palace also fits this bill, as well as being a close-by gym with excellent facilities.  Yes, the eye candy strain is strong indeed. What can I say, I am woman, hear me roar!

But, in the end, Al Areen Palace & Spa won my heart over.  Mostly because of the indoor pool so I can swim laps.  By the way, it opens up out to the  outdoor pool through a short underwater passage... It is divine.  The grounds are divine.  The smell is divine.  The low lighting is divine.  The beauty of empty spaces and gorgeous architecture is divine.  The gyms are divine. The yoga room is divine! As well, I might be teaching there in the future so this is divine inspiration! The spa and Thlassos baths are all divine. 

But the sauna... super divine. The outside pool lounge is divine.  The attention to detail is divine.  So, I'm pretty happy.  The sparseness of the place sold me.  Lots of room and not a lot of people.  I know this lack of people seems contrary to my wanting 'eye candy', but when it comes down to it, I like spaciousness.  The other gyms, while flowing with energy, were crowded in a sense.  I love eye candy, but I also love uninterrupted workouts too- probably more so- so...

What also won out?  Well, the management.  Sonia and Tania and Dr. Isa, and everybody else that I met that I can't remember their names- well, they were awesome.  I was able to personalize my membership with what I wanted. 

TIMEOUT: Just want to add that I had my first sip of my beloved Anthony's Coffee straight from Maui, Hawaii. Ahhhh you all know how I feel about my first sips of coffee in the morning while blogging...

So... another highlight: it's very close to the university!  For 4-5 days a week (remember, Tuesdays are optional to go into work), I can just pop by pau hana ('after work' in Hawaiian).  Another plus: the road is empty from the university to the spa, meaning that I can take my bike (once I buy a bike) and bike from the uni to the spa and back and not fear getting run over by drivers (yes, I'm afraid that the driving here is really, REALLY bad- although not as bad as in Turkey or Tunisia, but I wasn't driving when I lived in those places). I can also RUN in wide open spaces!  Now that the weather is cooling down, I can hit the pavement and head out into the countryside (somehow I imagine the term 'countryside' to involve trees, but anyhow...)

So I'm feeling pretty happy about my decision.  Fitness First was definitely a top contender, but the traffic into Manama from A`ali worried me a little.  I mean, it is the same amount of time kilometer-wise, but going to Zallaq at least I'm driving the entire time and not waiting in traffic messes... My heart might falter just a little bit this morning when I go to Fitness First for the day- especially after seeing all the eye candy, but... I know what's up ultimately.  Eye candy abounds.  I mean, I have it all around me with the Bahrain Road Runners work-outs.  I have it on the weekends when I go out.  It's around. 

The only 'bummer' is that there is no beach.  The only beaches connected to fitness centers were at the Ritz Carlton (much too expensive for my blood), and the Sofitel in Zallaq (not as expensive, but smaller fitness center). Someone yesterday, though, told me about a beach... where was it again???  It's written down on a little piece of paper somewhere...

Now that THAT is taken care of... I can delve into it.  That was 3 weeks of researching.  This is good as it means that there are a lot of gyms here in Bahrain.  It also means that people are interested in taking care of their health. It also means more eye candy walking around so I can see it...

In other island news, it is Eid Al Adha this week.  There are no classes and 9 days off.  A little kerfuffle ultimately kept me in Bahrain, but honestly I haven't explored much of Bahrain so far so this is a blessing, and I do count my blessings! I'm heading to the Hawar Islands on Thursday for a big dance party on the beach so... there you have it- living it up while staying right here at home in my host country!

As well, tomorrow afternoon is the BRR swim/run practice at Al Hamala Beach Resort.  Tomorrow morning is hitting up the souk with Mr. "X"... And I also get to go to my... wait for it... gym!!! Can I just say that this palace is exquisite!!! I'm soooo happy to have found it.  I actually have Ms. Bethanie to originally thank for it as I saw her pictures when she stayed there with her then fiancee.  Then one of my colleagues at work said he worked out there and that it was great.

It's funny, as I type this stuff that is in my head, I realize that my narration style is so very different from what it was while living in Turkey... I guess I had to search for the meaning of things more so when I lived there.  Now, I LOVED my time spent in Turkey and my friends in Gaziantep really made it happen. I mean, let's face it, Gaziantep, although pretty downtown, was really just a mess of apartment buildings.  The highlights were the people, and historic downtown section.  You all know how I feel about Istanbul- it is the greatest city on Earth... You all know how I felt about Tunis as well- it was a city I affectionately term 'of elegant decay', meaning that it had seen its grandeur in its earlier days, but the remains of this grandeur could be felt, could be heard through the city walls, through the wallpaper peeling off the walls of my lovely apartment that I had downtown in Lafayette.  But Gaziantep, where I lived... well, it was basic.  My friends were everything there.  We MADE that place happen.  I was able to see beyond the sterile, ghost-like apartment building skeletons and thoroughly enjoy my time there. 

Back to my writing though, I notice that I had more of a sardonic wit while confined to Cell Block D in Gaziantep... There were a few reasons for this (wink wink), but let's just keep it at this and that I notice a distinct difference.  What happens on the outside is a definite reflection on the inside- we all know that...

I guess I can't gush enough about how this sweet island has caught my attention.  It is an unexpected surprise. As well, there seems such a connection to the Philippines and this really reminds me of Hawaii. 

Today is another reconnaissance day- spa trial, bookstores NOT attached to malls, a skate shop, Skate-Shack, Ken's Country Diner (which I already know and love), a possible new beach, thanks to new friend Dana, and my beloved Al Areen Palace/Spa.  I believe that there is another Scrabble tourney tonight as well!  Last night I won (and it was tough competition against the Fulbright Crew too).  Yea, life here is pretty amazing indeed.  Home is where the heart is, and my heart is currently located at:  26.0275° N, 50.5500° E...

Eid Al Adha Mubarak ya'll


rainy day blues- I miss those days...

After my first official 'beach day' here in Bahrain, I'm feeling a bit melancholy- I'm homesick for a Hawaiian rainstorm. I mean a heart-pounding rain squall where you feel it in your body so deep that it resonates throughout and leaves you in awe of how beautiful it sounds, and feels.

The type of downpour that draws you out of your habitat to experience it in full glory.  It almost brings tears to my eyes how much I miss this right now.  All those sugar shacks I lived in in all those gulches on the north shore of Maui... the feeling, the vibe, the soul of the island- it gets in you. It seems in your skin, into your cells and co-exists with you.  You are transmuted and transformed into this gelatinous being that feels so holistic.

My new home has its perks and the weather is gorgeous right now.  I feel that the next 5 months will be fantastic.  I'm already sleeping without air con AND a fan.

But my mind drifts back to my Islands... I'm drifting on a cloud right now over 5 corners and I see myself on my run down Haiku Road.  I can smell the wild grasses.  I can smell the farms.  I can smell the farm animals.  I can smell the fresh rain mixing with the pavement. I can smell that one divine eucalyptus grove right below 5 Corners.  That smell intoxicates me like the most delicious drug ever.

There are over 500 terms for 'rain' in Hawaii.  The ancient Polynesians had a name describing every type of rain.  It's so interesting- what your reality is and your surroundings, and the words you develop to describe that experience collectively as humanity.

I want to experience rainfall here in Bahrain.  I want to experience that psyche. I don't think I want to experience it here while driving though... Admittedly, drivers and driving is a horrible experience here.  Even though this is an island nation, the 'island vibe' does not exist where driving is concerned.  Everybody is in a hurry to get... somewhere I suppose.  I really try not to let things bug me when I live abroad, and I've avoided the entire 'road rage' experience in both Turkey and Tunisia due to not driving.

Here... I'm driving, and it is nerve-wracking.  Where is my big, lifted 1988 straight front end Toyota Truck when I need it.  I would feel safe in it right about now... Besides, what a hot car that was.

So, yea.  driving in the rain here would suck because people tailgate here. It's like a compulsion.  If you've ever driven with me, you know I'm Miss Slowpoke driver- mostly because my vehicles were always so archaic!

Back to driving... I've never seen so many accidents as well, or so many random car parts strewn across the highways.  I'm talking like entire front ends just barely off the lane...

Shall we delve into the round-abouts here?  Why yes, I think we should.  So, they are great, generally speaking, with moderate traffic.  Here the traffic is so heavy that they typically slow down the natural flow of traffic.  Some of the round-abouts have stop lights and these are fine and efficient.  Many, though, do not and it is chaos.  Of course, I'm not used to them either...

Let's get back to driving rain though.  It makes me happy, as opposed to the thought of driving in the rain here.  I recall so many evenings leaving Paia Town or coming from work and it's dark and I just passed Hookipa Beach Park and Maliko Gulch and suddenly... yep, driving rain pelting my windshield. Sometimes so hard and fast that my windshield wipers couldn't keep up.  It seemed that some nights I was all alone on the road and the only one to experience this.  I recall going up East Kuiaha Road sometimes and seeing gravel from the road coming down as I was going up.  Mud, debris, and waterfalls splashing from the sides of the gulches.  What a trip, those experiences.

So I'm making myself homesick right now. I want rain.  I want my truck. I want rainbows. Double rainbows.  It'll pass.  This yearning for Hawaii passes just like the rain squalls on the north shore...

Okay, gotta run.  Another friend residing in Saudi just made it across the border so we gotta hit up the city tonight


reflecting on back pain...

So here I am, in bed, sans coffee.  It's 10:45 am and it's Tuesday- Hump Day here in the Middle East.  Tuesday is normally not a teaching day anyway, but instead a work in office, or home office day.  I do have about 60 homework assignments to grade by the way... I should have 100, but you know how students can be... So, lack of turning in homework on time provides me a break is looking at the situation as the cup is half full... So I shall.

Now, I was up earlier.  I made my smoothie: today's healthful delight consisted of chia seeds, super blue-green algae, calcium powder from sea veggies, brazil nuts, organic shredded coconut, flax seeds, pomegranate juice, yogurt  and bananas. I must say that I make a damn good smoothie...

I posted pictures of this past weekends shenanigans.  If this is any indication to come of my time spent here in Bahrain, it's going to be a fantastic voyage!  The one downer is that I did manage to hit a soft spot while kayaking on Saturday morning and experience some back issues.  I haven't had back pain for over two years so... Anyway, I remember it all too well.  It's true what they say, "muscles have memory", especially damaged muscles...

It could have been worse honestly.  I still managed to work all week so far.  I will still manage to correct 60 homework assignments today.  I will still manage to work the next 2 days.  Why?  Well, first, the pain isn't enough to put me out. Second, I was raised by a father who taught me discipline. I was taught to take it.  To take whatever life gives me, and try to do it with as much grace as possible.  I was taught that if I wanted happiness, I would take it.  It doesn't just appear.  Now, dad didn't express these words to me, it was a silent coaching.  Something I didn't understand until years later when I already left the 'rents den and went out exploring into the world at the ripe age of 17. 

So this walk down memory lane reminds me of my father. Yes, I'm in some pain.  Yes I'm bummed that I can't run at this week's Bahrain Road Runner's event (but I'll still go and talk their ears off to find out where I can find; an acupuncturist, a masseuse, a chiropractor, etc). Yes, I'm bummed that I can't participate in this weekend's Ritz Carlton Aquathon (600 meter swim/6km road race), but I'll still go and bathe in the excitement of the participants and gleen off some of their energy (did that sound okay?) But, I will swim today at the pool at my apartment complex to loosen up my back.  I will swim tomorrow night with the BRR members that go to the Hamala Beach Resort. I will persevere.

Why, because I'm addicted to feeling well.  I'm addicted to challenging my body.  I'm addicted to see improvements in my body's recovery. I'm addicted to the adrenalin that I feel when I accomplish a physical task. It's interesting, I just read from a new blog that I started following. This person shared an article about, and endorsed, how any company should always value hiring an athlete (not a professional athlete).  Why? I believe that it is due to personal discipline.  Anybody, of course, can set personal goals for themselves, as well as professional goals.  People who are athletic tend to reach those personal goals, and create/obtain more. I think... Anyway, I believe it too.  And I have a story to express it.

I have an angel here in Bahrain. She lives amongst the stars. Agent Starlight, as I affectionately call her, noticed my suffering the past 2 days.  She offered to go to the eczane (pharmacy) to get some stuff for me.  She could see in my eyes that I was hurting, but was persevering.  She obviously noticed how difficult it was for me to be sitting down (standing up is no problem). and to get up after sitting down for a while. I told her that after work I'm just too exhausted to, first look for a pharmacy, and then to drive to it. So I just go home and rest and take some aspirin.  So she volunteered to go to the pharmacy yesterday evening and drop off some stuff to me afterwards.

I was so taken by her generosity. I mean, it is sometimes difficult to accept help. I knew I needed it though and had to suck it up.  I graciously accepted.  Now, perhaps anybody would do this- and I believe truly that many would, even with/without me asking for help.  Agent Starlight is an athlete.  She is an avid swimmer.  She knows her body needs to exercise.  She knows I know my body needs to exercise.  We both know we need to nurture our bodies.  She was willing to give up a swim session to help me nurture my body.

So this reminds me of the article I read from the blog.  It made me smile.  As well, living in a foreign country can sometimes be overwhelming.  Doing a simple task like going to the pharmacy can seem daunting at times. You can become weary maybe just doing a task that in your own country would require no extra effort.  Lieutenant L (LL) has been very gracious in this was as well.  LL was having a dinner party that I was to attend.  I was to cook some food as well.  On Sunday after work I came to LL's apartment holding the bag of couscous.  I said that I couldn't attend as my back was killing me.  LL was so cool & insisted that they would bring food- appetizers AND dinner- to my apartment and check in on me.  That LL did, and boy was I grateful.  You know, I had food I could have made (oatmeal, cereal, etc), but it felt great having a hot meal- chicken, prawns, veggie appetizers with dip, fresh garden salad, etc. 

So I'm feeling grateful to be surrounded by such wonderful peeps.  Since I stepped foot in Bahrain, I have felt really good- even with my achy back.  As I look back, I had this same kind of community in Turkey, and in Tunisia as well.  It is this sort of 'expat code' that you experience, as well as the locals that you mingle with. It makes me realize that home can be anywhere.  It's all about the community that you create for yourself.  I have no family here in Bahrain, but I got phamily here in Bahrain! I might not be able to run this week, but I can walk!  And I can certainly go to the A`ali walking track tonight and walk with all the walkers there and watch the runners and secretly envy (little bit) them while healing my body.

Now, to pull myself off of this bed and jump into (gently pull myself down into) the pool for some aqua therapy.  Oh man I'm fantasizing about going for a run. If I'm a really good girl, I think I can run next week in UAE/Oman...


purely picture post... Bahrain so far

Glamazons of the GCC. We've got Saudi Arabia, UAE & Bahrain represented here, via Tunisia, via Amerika

The UN-sponsored Bahrain Youth Peace Conference I attended in September

where is the man who drives this car??? FIND HIM

the university I work at

the MOI sponsored mini triathlon

Bahrain GeoCaching Club: Bahrain mangrove kayak adventure