What Time Zone Is It?

walking to the store - our hotel behind me

walking to the store – our hotel behind me

We aren’t going to sleep until 3am and I set my alarm for 7am so that I can try to get on a schedule and get over jet lag with shorter naps in the afternoon. I turned the air to 22.5 degrees throughout the rest of the place – the bedrooms have a separate thermometer, and then climbed under the thick and heavy blanket – no sheet – on the bed. I got up again to check on the dogs. Sparky was tucked into a corner of the couch and Piggy was sprawled out on the carpet. I went to bed happy that they were with us and expecting them to join us at some point – and it would happen, but not in a way I had thought of.

The bars don’t close until 4 and it somehow took the drunk people another hour to reach our door. I didn’t know that our room came with a doorbell until I was woken up to the sound of it. I peeked through the peephole to find a couple standing closely to it telling their friends that they will get in. By the time I could call the front desk – only two doors away – it was already being taken care of. Now with the dogs in bed with me I can go back to sleep for two hours and then go to the guest complimentary breakfast, served from 7 to 10, that others have bragged about.

Or I can stay in bed until 10am when the doorbell goes off again, but instead of ring, ding, ding, etc. it’s the houseboys with just one ring to let me know they are here to service my room. As I hold Sparky to keep him quiet I kindly decline this morning. We still have plenty of clean towels, extra soap, another bed to dirty the sheets, and though the floor may be dusty it’s something that I will need to get used to.

Outside the pool is full of boys with their fathers and uncles – some in the pool and others sunbathing. Caleb makes a to-do list while I check my email and then we make a shopping list. I fed the dogs and we’re getting ready to go. Caleb helps Piggy sit on the carpet so that she can barf on the tile. I didn’t measure out their food and she didn’t finish her bowl but she also didn’t chew half her meal so it found its way back up. I feel bad that they spent five days in a crate not eating or sleeping. They are happy for the endless food and air-conditioned sleep.

STOP at Amwaj Avenue

STOP at Amwaj Avenue

Caleb finds a grocery store nearby called Alosra, but his 1km turns into a 1.5 mile one-way trip. It’s ok though; as long as we are in the shade with the wind blowing it feels like a tropical paradise, but there is that reminder when we walk into the sun again that we are at the sun’s vacation resort where it’s only 95 degrees today. As we make our way there I can’t determine if I’m surprised by the lack of trash or that there are so many used water bottles along the route – didn’t know what to expect.

We should travel with water at all times as the instantaneous sweat will leave you swollen, red, and sick, and possibly delusional if you’re lucky, but sooner than you realize. All the signs are bilingual, the license plates too. There are lots of people on bikes carrying rakes, lawnmowers, and groceries. There are crosswalks in the most ‘visible’ areas between turns where sometimes you can stroll across and other times need to run between cars and still get honked at even though you’re now out of the street.

At the roundabout is a construction crew and part of the crosswalk is covered in their equipment. We walk closely to it until we can get back on the sidewalk. The workers are under the shade of the tree enjoying their long lunch break. I don’t blame them as I wouldn’t want to be playing in a hot sand pit under the desert sun in mid-day either. We walk by giant orange pots that are growing trees and then a sidewalk that goes between the water and the road (and more water on the other side) that is surrounded by trees.

We pass a couple other people making use of the shade too, then pass the new security gate in progress to enter Amwaj Islands, and the store comes into view – an air conditioned paradise. We buy me a bottle of Voss water from the deli, and though we’re not into buying artisan water I like the glass. I should buy one with a larger opening. Then we walk around the pet store where they sell rabbits and dog food – possibly the same thing in my dogs’ eyes. Back in the grocery store I get a sample of taro frozen yogurt, a beet hummus sandwich square, and strawberry yogurt.

largest terracotta pot I've seen

largest terracotta pot I’ve seen

Caleb likes the spicy hummus and we get a dish of that. We walk up and down each aisle. The fruits and vegetables department has a man with a scale that weighs and prices your food – that we forget to use for our bananas – that saves time at the register. There are meat, cheese, and bread counters. The food varies from American, to British, to Middle East, to Asian giving us plenty of comfort options to choose from, but also a plethora of new items to tempt our tastebuds. There is also a pork section hidden in the back of the store near the random assortment section.

We buy ass soap, dish soap, laundry soap, and hair soap; Hobnobs and Ribena that remind me of Indo-Euro in Phoenix; bottled water until we can get a water cooler; cheap crunchy peanut butter with rhubarb and ginger jelly on korn bread; Lindt chocolate and a Kinder Joy; some leek-potato soup, Brie cheese, and kiwis with a scoop/peeler included. I help bag our groceries so that I have a bag for each hand and Caleb gets a bag and the water. The sales clerk gets to sit in a chair all day and somehow seem to maintain a figure under their abaya.

The walk back to the room is just as much fun. Caleb is juggling the water as he tried to carry it by the plastic and it broke, but luckily stayed together to hold all the bottles in there – nothing a bag or two wouldn’t fix if we walked back to the store as long as the caps didn’t break on impact. Back at the hotel and our houseboy is at the neighbor’s. He comes over and whistles for the dogs that come to the kitchen to greet us. He wants to gauge their friendliness for when he cleans our room. Piggy says hello and he notices she’s blind. Sparky is either hoping for treats or wishing that he won’t be put in another crate for at least two years.

I write while Caleb reads. We start to feel sleepy so I suggest we turn on the TV. We watch the rest of Love and Other Drugs and get familiar with the popular commercials: one for Sedar Somfy – a curtain remote, one I want to record about the Freez drink, and one about a phone app – a man playing soccer with boys and realizes the ball is being controlled by a boy in the stands. We are watching Fox Movies – spoken in English with Arabic subtitles and when the station goes back to the film it sounds like A’hala Fucks Movies.

second roundabout en route

second roundabout en route

My pants were smelly and Caleb had started a load of laundry. We were waiting for them to finish when an alarm (like on a microwave) went off. Piggy decides to throw up again. I feel bad for them having to put up with jet lag and travel sickness and still need to look up what their plane and room in Amsterdam looked like – not that that will help with their condition. Caleb learned that you have to set the dryer at the same time as the wash – otherwise you have to rewash and ask your wife to wear something else. She puts on her pink, knee-length, dress and slips on her overly used Adidas to go for a walk now that the sun is down.

We walk the dogs first across the parking lot, down the stairs, and to the right behind the apartments in front of our hotel where there are twenty palm trees and a blanket of grass. At the end of the building, from an alley and behind a tree comes this fluffy white dog. Sparky was stealthy about it and there was no blood, but we had to wait for the family to catch up so that we could pass their pet that tried to follow us. The wife told me, “He don’t like that” as she pointed to Piggy’s leash. All other dogs have been on a leash and I don’t know the laws – not that it would matter if I did.

We take them back to the room, then head left from our door through the parking lot to the sidewalk that goes over a bridge. The night is cool at 97 degrees with a slight breeze. One of the floating tables from Yamin Jana are being used and I look forward to us trying it soon. The bridge is just as exciting as I thought it would be. There are lights, and buildings, and people running and walking their dogs… and then we notice the couple in a hot tub that looks like a washing machine exploded with bubbles and a sexual rhythm between them. I can hear the gears in Caleb’s head turning. You’ll know if we get a hot tub if I send out a request for Mr. Bubbles.

We continue our walk past nice compounds and construction sites. Some guys holler, others honk, and one sits in a roundabout to stare. I wonder if the lady that passed us took some video. We walk across another bridge and onto the beach on our return – where there is no fishing or swimming allowed, but on this side of the bridge we notice a float to keep the ocean and bay separate. I think about walking on it some time and we notice two guys using it to get back into their canoe. Then I remember that we haven’t eaten dinner yet and it’s after 7pm.

Caleb on the loveseat

Caleb on the loveseat

We thought we decided on Muju for dinner but when we walked into the sports bar and asked about outdoor seating we were told it was for VIP (referring to the covered area with a personal TV and seating for five), so we sat at the nearest table and were brought menus for Corners. The place is covered in soccer photos, country flags and big screens. The wait staff all have soccer related shirts on. The table next to us is full of women covered in make-up and wearing just enough dressy attire to cover their tits and ass. Usually as an American I would consider this normal, but sitting here I feel like I’m at the Bunny Ranch on lunch break. It makes me wonder how much skin I should be showing.

The first thing I see on the menu is the bar’s ten commandments – one being: Thou shalt not look for eye contact, especially at the opposite sex as they will most likely ignore you. I tell Caleb it’s getting easier to avoid looking at men and not responding to their Good Mornings and How Are You’s. It feels awkward, but they do seem to be directed towards Caleb and I don’t want to make them uncomfortable since I’m a guest in their country.

My advice though – ask someone that’s lived where you’re going what it’s like and what not to do. Don’t listen to the scare tactics that the media or military use, as most people ignore them here anyways – dressing inappropriately and going to the off-limits areas. It’s smart to take it into consideration when not sure or doing research – better safe than sorry.

We order tea that’s sweet, a Greek salad with bread slices, and a grilled veggie sandwich – eggplant, bell pepper, cheese, etc. – with fries and romaine on the side. We dip the fries in Heinz 57 and take half the salad to go. We add that to-go bag to our growing collection under the sink, put the leftovers in the fridge, and it’s off to wink town for us.

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