6.30.2014

Ready...Set...Go: From Middle East to Western Pacific Ocean




Am I ready?  Yea, I'm ready to rock outta here in  my rocket-ship (ahem... Lufthansa Airlines). So folks, it looks like this is my last communique from my A`ali HQ for a few months. I'm deserting the desert for my Western Pacific island.  Desert Dweller to Island Kine. Let me tell you, it's not a journey for the faint of heart; stuck in economy class for 30 hours or so, eating kibble I wouldn't feed my kitties, breathing recirculated air while trying not to listen in on conversations... Wait. Back-up. No one has conversations anymore... Even on planes we're reduced to clutching at our lifelines- if not to call someone, but to stare at the screen playing games or watching movies.  Yea, I'll be watching movies as well and likely not talking to anyone.  Well, honestly I've been pretty fortunate in the 'cool neighbor on airplane' department.  As a single gal flying around the world and only sitting on aisle seats, I've somehow always managed to be placed next to a... single, handsome male flying around the world sitting in the 'mush-pot' as my dad would always say... Enough on that and let's just hope for the best :)

Speaking of dad, I've been thinking about him lately.  Thinking about his wisdom and wise-sayings.  What was he thinking when he traveled all around the world- albeit inside a submarine... I would love to ask him what I need to know, what I really need to know, about grant-writing.  I feel like I write with my heart on my sleeve, or fingers extending onto the computer screen so as it happens...

Upon doing some research on what teaching Fellows/Fulbrights have options to do after their terms are up, I've discovered there is a wealth of grants to apply for to conduct research in your specialized area.  Well folks, I've ran it through in my mind (dad, were you following?) and am plotting... I won't divulge now, but just know that something is in the works for me in the future. Honestly though, the first step is to become an alumni, and I'm not there yet- thankfully!  Yea, if you don't already know, my mission has been extended and so I'll be returning to Bahrain in September to carry on with another 10 months of teaching in residence.  So what does that mean?  It means another 10 months of plotting for my future, it means data collection- which means a plan... It means thinking about culture, landscape, archaeology, history, story-telling. It means narrowing down to a specific region I want to focus on.  Yea, I'm stoked when I think about the future.  Just need to take that first step...

To help me sort out all this in my mind, I've decided to take on another cross-country Amerika journey on 18 wheels.  I think you all know this already, but I'm just so excited that  I squeal with delight when I think about it!  To prepare for the southern route I've done some background research.  What form you ask?  Well, for starters I watched seasons 1 and 2 of Duck Dynasty... That's about as far as I've gotten so far... Any more ideas from you guys is greatly appreciated.

Back to this morning though.  Here in my host desert kingdom:  It's my last morning with coffee in bed for a while.  I'm glued to the air conditioner. I've made a make-shift 'fort' (pillows and a sarong) for the kitties on the bed so they are playing Indians and Indians :)  Yea, no cowboys to be seen here at Fort Formolo- just Shaika "long black spot" and Sami "scalpel"... For some reason Sami Bey likes to creep up on me while sleeping and start pawing at my hair, and then pulling it... Kinda creepy honestly.  I think to myself, "Gosh, what if I don't wake up for a while and when I do, I see a pile of hair on the bed and I rub a bald spot... Eek.

Ramadan has started and it is a festive atmosphere here. Yesterday I fasted all day- just by default as I was at work and didn't bring anything to eat, and of course there is nothing there to eat at this time.  I didn't eat or drink until 5pm when I was finished with my day.  You know what, it wasn't too bad.  Yes, I say this for only 1 day of fasting- and it wasn't even long enough as with daylight long right now, fasting is approximately for 15 hours. So, while you're fasting, I suppose that you do things to distract yourself from this endeavor.  So I decided to trot off after work to a 'house of henna'- Rachna's Henna Salon.  I spent the afternoon with a bunch of lovely ladies all enjoying a brief respite from the heat and chatting about whatever with each other. I suppose not surprisingly I noticed a few ladies glued to their cell phones- even when their friends were right there with them!  I guess this still trips me out. Are we really all about this tiny screen and tapping?  I guess so and it's here to stay until we all become big losers and get Google Glasses... Ugh.

Another thing I noticed since Saturday (Ramadan was set to start Saturday, but then Saudi Arabia didn't spot the crescent moon (with naked eye) at the proper time, so it was set back to start Sunday.  So, this gave everyone an extra day to EAT and DRINK!!! The supermarkets were crowded.  I mean super crowded.  As well, yesterday afternoon Alosra Sar parking lot was really crowded.  People like buying food during Ramadan!  Why?  Because they make splendid meals for Iftar (the daily breaking of the fast at sundown and after prayers). I mean, these are some serious spreads.  Food galore.  I remember friends in Turkey telling me they actually gain weight during Ramazan!  So yes, people stay up all night and eat and socialize.  It is a time of family gathering and purifying.  It is really so beautiful.

This year is particularly interesting here for Ramadan because also late at night is... wait for it... THE WORLD CUP games being aired!  Because of the time difference between South America and the Middle East, the games are aired late at night!  So, of course everybody is eating and watching the games!  And boy what a game last night between Algeria (I think everybody's favorite) and Germany.  Germany won, but Algeria won our hearts!  Damn those men are handsome too :)  That's another thing about the Middle East- there is no shortage of handsome men, and beautiful women incidentally. I've yet to check out Qatar (I'm flying there tonight), but so far Oman is tops for beautiful men category :) I can say honestly though that everybody here has beautiful hearts.  I can also say that driving is scary... All who know me know that I'm 'slowpoke'- mostly because I always had "Maui Cruiser" cars (old beaters) that would generally shimmy and shake at 55MPH...

To sum up, Ramadan Mubarak, or Ramadan Kareem to all reading this that partake!!!

It's time to rise and shine and get this day done and hop on a rocket-ship and cruise the galaxy (okay, airplane traveling through the stratosphere).  Upon arrival (48 hours travel time without time differences to account for, so less with), I'll be sleeping underneath the Maui sky in a tent in a Kula backyard!!! How cool is that??? What a way to break myself back into island living!  Yes, I'm keeping it real.  No air conditioners for me for the next few months thankfully.  Just good, clean Maui air to keep me cool, calm and relaxed.  Yea, and Da Kine :)


Arabian Sea

Western Pacific Ocean