The video never downloaded last night before I decided to go to bed around 9:30. Sparky woke me up at 5am this morning, but instead of staying up I went back to sleep until 7am and then we went to breakfast where I filled up on rye bread with butter and strawberry jelly. We were on our way out the door to go to base when our houseboy appeared with cart in tow. He asked if he could clean and was thrilled when we said yes. We quickly put the dogs in the other bedroom and took off.
We went to the housing office to get a pre-lease agreement but you have to fill it out there on a walk-in basis and we didn’t have time to wait because we had an appointment set up with a real estate agent at 10am. I talked to Caleb’s XO while he waited in line to find that out. I’m surprised when we get back to the room to find that the dishes are done. Caleb wonders if we would’ve left our laundry in there if they would’ve done that too.
Myra gets here at 10am and takes us to Busaiteen where we see a villa and a flat. I was already thinking no in my head as we drove through all the construction over the dirt roads – no water, no grass, no sidewalks. Then we go inside the large door with room for dust to blow in under to the large kitchen with a tiny stove. The rest of the place was nice and had large showers and an outdoor pool and a garage long enough for three cars.
The same guy owns the flat next door. Up one flight of stairs into a three-bedroom place with mirrored closets, a large kitchen, a long hallway, and a room with a pool (lights and bubbles included) and a personal air conditioner in the stuffy room. There are transformers included and a security system with a little camera that lets us see who is at the door so we can choose to answer it from our living room. It may be nice, but I don’t want to live in an apartment and the owner is concerned about the noise of our dogs with having neighbors.
Next Myra takes us to Hidd to view a woman’s mansion – the five bedrooms are too much for her now with her son living in Qatar with her four-year old grandson. We are overly impressed with everything – the two living rooms, the size of the bedrooms, jacuzzi tubs, and chandeliers. The kitchen has a fridge with prep counter space and the stove in another room further from the living space of the house. I can’t believe she’s willing to rent this to us for BD1,041.
The last place on today’s agenda will be the ladies villa and she needs to go to unlock it. She is wearing the equivalent of a bathrobe-abaya. She explains that it’s easier to put on when someone comes by – electrician, future renters – for when she doesn’t have enough time to properly don her abaya and hijab, but she somehow does that and beats us to her villa which is walking distance to Lulu’s Hypermarket.
I removed my shoes at her house, but she lets me know it’s no problem not to here because they are cleaning the place. There are patches of grass in the front yard and colourful walls inside with beautiful furnishings. Upstairs are three large bedrooms and she tells us that internet, cable, water, electric, and other things will be included in the rent. Outside is a temperature controlled pool and though it may be short it’s about 12-15 feet deep – great for floating around, but not for swimming laps or using a stand-up paddle board.
I was just about sold on the place, but Caleb reminds me that even though we may not swim often, living in Floating City will give us the option – and he wants a jet ski. He also reminds me that in Amwaj there are sidewalks, street lights, and women biking, rollerblading, and walking their dogs alone. It’s safer, greener, and has more water options. Diane texts me to let me know that someone else is interested in the place we want, but we will keep this place open as an option in case the other place gets rented before we can get all the paperwork needed.
Myra drops us off at The Dragon at noon and Caleb suggests Muju for lunch so we can try their fries. They are having a catered event for the Naval Security Force, but have plenty of tables available to accommodate us. We order two flat waters and Caleb has to send his bubbly water back – still closed in the bottle of course. I’m quick to break the seal on mine because I’m thirsty but I forget that they open it for you and fill your glass a third of the way which I drink and refill. We order the fries, a rainbow maki roll, and a crunchy California maki roll. Caleb orders me a monkey bite – a black Russian with banana liqueur. I’m hesitant but he assures me it’s only one drink. It arrives in a tiny shot glass and I take it in sips.
We get the fries first and eat them with our chopsticks. We have ketchup and soy sauce to dip them in and mixed is even better. They taste like American fries and now I know why Caleb got the recommendation. Even the ginger on the crunchy roll is fried. I eat that one where the meat is on the inside covered in rice, seaweed, and avocado. I let Caleb eat the other one. He’s ready to go when the waitress brings the dessert menu. We don’t usually do dessert at lunch and rarely at dinner, but I had a look and wanted to try the crème brûlée with lemon grass. We ordered it and after a few minutes realised how full we were and got it to-go (or take away).
We put the dessert in the fridge and are going to go back to base for the pre-lease agreement and a command muster at 3pm. We leave the gate under construction for Amwaj, the light turns green, and I drive through the intersection. There is a large truck in the other lane and a car cuts over into our lane with only one other vehicle in front of us. I expected him to keep going so when he parked I slammed on the brakes, but our light car didn’t stop until it plowed into the back of his KIA Sorento and knocked his tire loose so that it too could hit our car.
I reached for my phone to get a picture of his license plate thinking that he would just drive away. The driver gets out of his car, a local, and checks that his rear door shuts properly and looks at the tiny dent in his bumper, then walks over to the car to begin screaming at me for what I did to his car. Caleb, in the calmest voice he can muster, asks the guy to kindly step away from me and wait by his own vehicle. A security truck goes by and turns around to park behind us. Caleb calls the police and they want to talk to the other guy. Caleb hands his cell over to the other driver now sitting in his car.
He told us to call the police because he had already called his servant who was now parking in front of him. The station told us that if our car was drivable we should drive there for processing. We followed the guy and his erratic driving and swerving to change lanes. I kept my distance – as the security guy warned me to do with the broken hood of the car – and soon enough we saw the tall white Muharraq police station in the distance.
We pulled up to the gate and said we were with the guy in front of us. They pointed to the right and we parked beside him. Inside, we go to the left to the check-in desk where we are asked multiple times for a CPR card that we don’t have. I hand him my Florida’s drivers license, he asks for the order of my name, puts some more information into the computer, asks for a phone number, and then tells us to sit in the chairs across the lobby and wait.
As soon as we sit down I think about the alcohol and the brief where we were told that they will take blood. I figure I will get my first DUI in another country and we will be living in the hotel making payments to the government and for the rental car. We are called to a door and the local loses his temper and the officer asks him to calm down and I walk away. Caleb tells him to stop yelling at his wife. I’m hoping that this works in our favor. I can just imagine how I may have been treated had I been alone.
We are told to wait some more and I go to the bathroom at the end of the hall. There are two stalls – one with a door on hinges and a sliding handicap door. I choose the one with hinges and am greeted with a toilet and a hose, no paper. I join Caleb back in the lobby and we go outside to see the damage of the two vehicles and one officer asks each of us what happened. I’m standing away from them as I calmly say that he cut us off and stopped.
We go into a room and the officer and local sit down to make a drawing of the accident while Caleb watches. Then another officer is invited over to point to the guilty party on paper. I smile on the inside when I see the reaction of the local slamming his fist on the table. His servant smiles as the guy leaves. We go between the two officers to finish filling out paperwork, trying to get ahold of the rental company for missing paperwork, then pay BD6 for processing that we can get back from the rental company when we drop the car off. We are told we are good to go, it was not our fault, and the car will be taken care of.
We make it to the sandlot outside of base and the attendants that help you park and offer to clean your car ask if they can fix ours. I laugh as I imagine them with a hammer making the best of it. I decline and Caleb says they take it to a shop and bring you the receipt. We make it to the brief on time and Senior brings up our accident. We show him the police report (written in Arabic except for my name) and he jokes with us. The XO sees the scribbles on the bumpers and jokes about the dents. They’re glad we’re ok and Senior says we should yield to all, but the XO says don’t give them the space – glad we can all agree.
We go by the Inn & Suites to make copies and then to the rental company. The attendant doesn’t show much emotion about the car. He asks if we need copies, gets the Hyundai i10 cooling off, and we are good to go. Outside is a small black car waiting on us. We get in and the guy is at the window telling me to be careful with the key because it’s the only one they have. The spare is being repaired from the harsh treatment of the last driver. I’m so grateful that today went as it did and that I can go back to the room and relax.
I text the two realtors to let them know that we didn’t get the paperwork and that we’ll have to wait until Sunday. We learned at the muster that our 45 days won’t start until Caleb checks onto the boat which won’t be for another week. This means we get two weeks of extra money, but I don’t know if we will be in a hotel for two months, though I don’t mind staying until our stuff gets here, and so many landlords are willing to give us everything we need including dishes, sheets, and a separate washer and dryer (American style) instead of the one machine (European style).
Back at the hotel the NSF catered event is in full swing pool-party mode with bottles and glasses lining the edge and employees cleaning up all the spilled water to help avoid falls – even though there is a kid running by with a doll in their arms. I wanted to post a picture of the car to Facebook but internet was slow. I’m hoping as all the partygoers go home the connection will speed up – then I could even get some blogging done. I’m able to upload the photo and Caleb and I settle down to watch The Nanny Diaries – not our usual film preference, but we’re still working on staying awake.