I remember Caleb pouring the Rockstar. I remember taking a sip and trying to turn on the TV. This happened around 7pm and the next thing I vaguely remember was Caleb taking me to bed at 9pm. I slept well until 2:30am. Sparky woke up with me so I took him outside as I wondered about curfew. We’re supposed to be inside by 1am, but what’s the earliest we can come out again – this question will be asked today.
Caleb gets out of bed at three to tell me that he let Sparky out at two. We need to keep him awake during the day with us so that he will sleep at night with us too. We get all our paperwork in order and I start going through photos for the blog, but by five we are getting antsy. I start looking through the pile of magazines available on our coffee table. We put the dogs in the second bedroom so that we can get dishes and cleaning done while we are gone and go to breakfast at 6:58.
We are the first ones in there, fill our plates, stuff our faces, and are in the car 15 minutes later. It only takes us 15 minutes to get to the dirt lot in front of base which delivers us to the Freedom Souq 25 minutes early. We walk around a bit and then go inside to a multiple command indoc. I thought this would be another two-hour process, but we are handed a five-day schedule. Luckily two days are not mandatory for us and one day is a voluntary Bahrain culture tour by a local. We hear from the CO and XO and they try to sound professional and prominent, but they just sound pompous to me.
The CMC spoke next and made a nice impression on me. A guy in the back asked a question about something that was already said and got to go to the front and reread the card that they will pass out to the audience. I asked about curfew and was told that I should be inside from 1:00 to 5:00 am – and not to go alone with my dogs as they could be stolen and sold. As many terrorist activities and scary things I’ve heard about this place that was definitely not one of them, but luckily the ropes we are using now can be wrapped around our bodies for extra security.
We hear from the Navy College Office, get fire fighting training from the local department, and hear from four different people about medical and mental health. Guys talk to us about DAPA, NCIS (like the TV show), and a lady from the pet vet’s office about their limited services. The NEX rep talks to us about purchases – outlet transformer, alcohol point system, items offered with price matching and easy ordering of what they don’t have.
Then Mr. Hassan talks to us about what to expect during Ramadan – sadly I can’t go to the procession on the 21st, but I can go into the Grand Mosque and the ceremonial tents. During their holy month they not only abstain from food during the day, but also from drink, sex, smoking, cussing, and bad deeds. He teaches us some greetings – Eid Mubarak (blessed Eid) and assalamu alaikum (peace be with you); and lets us know that restaurants will be closed during the days, bars closed for the month, and other businesses will have shorter hours.
Mr. Hassan tells us when kids will come knocking on our doors – we can either participate by giving them candy and singing along or lock our doors. He finishes with telling us more about the local Bahrain customs and ways we can show respect for their religion and culture – don’t show the bottom of our feet, take our shoes off in their home (so we don’t dirty where they pray), don’t make out in public, dress modestly, and don’t flip off protestors (or a finger is likely to be removed).
And each speaker stresses the importance of safety and security – buy a paper shredder, women can take women driver cabs, this nation is zero tolerance for alcohol in the blood stream while driving, numbers to call if we see something or feel scared, numbers that will text us to avoid riot areas, what the red and yellow zones mean on the map (red not at all and yellow not at night), and don’t participate in human trafficking (prostitutes). You shouldn’t invite locals back to your room and don’t talk to them about politics, religion, pork, alcohol, or sex.
After the brief, we left early because we’d already been to the housing brief, we followed a guy to medical where we were told to go to Bldg. 1 to get the same form we had but with a different name on it. We went by the Inn & Suites to get some copies made and I was enrolled in medical. We decide to take care of dental and visas tomorrow as it’s now 4pm and their offices are probably closed. We were also able to set up a P.O. box during our lunch break. We had some trouble opening the box at first – it has been years since using a spin lock with a three number combo – and then we went to the deli in the NEX for a Texas omelette and veggie omelette on jalapeño cheddar bagels. We went back to the briefing room to eat them.
We went back by the NEX when we were done running errands so I could get some appropriate local attire, but they offer workout gear that’s too tight and ladies blouses that are too big. We can go by the souq tomorrow. We would’ve gone today, but I quickly remembered that the dogs were probably still in the bedroom where they had been for nine hours and they needed out – I was right in my assumption. Amy texts me to let me know that her property manager, Hasan, is available to show us a place and will be at our place to pick us up at six to look at it. I’m so grateful for the helpful people who are making this transition easier.
Hasan arrives at 6:30 and takes us across the street to view a two-story townhouse with water access from the backyard and a view of the ocean in the front. We loved a lot about it – the water cooler, transformer, washer with separate dryer, large oven, and the living room – but realised we will need a three bedroom place to accommodate four bicycles, a tool box, treadmill, cabinets and bookshelves, and our desks with chairs.
Next door is Jamnis working on his new-to-him jet ski. Caleb worked with him for a while so we walk over to talk and he invites his wife, Reika, out to say hi and we end up talking for at least an hour. She happens to know Amy through her husband’s command. They really want us to be neighbours, but I figure anything within walking, or bike riding, distance will be good too. Before we left there we met Nicole walking her dog with an empty stroller to prepare them both for next month when the baby arrives.
Back home I’m too tired to be motivated and turn on the TV for mindless entertainment to keep me awake. We end up watching the middle of Darjeeling Limited – something about three brothers traveling to see their mother. I decide to walk the dogs when my eyes get heavy. It will be another early night in bed around nine, but I’m setting my alarm for 5:15.