The alarm goes off, Sparky wants to go out, Caleb and Piggy are still cuddling in bed together. I put his leash on, open the door, and am greeted by a giant roach on his back and a tissue nearby as something to help him on his feet again. I’m so involved in this that when the employee with the mop comes over to knock him into the parking lot I’m surprised. The roach must’ve been too far gone to care, but when I look up I see that I’m being watched by five guys – and they are entertained.
I laugh it off as one of them yells, “NO, NO!” (because of my attack dogs). I point towards the stairs trying to ease his stress and once Sparky is out of view they want to know what he is, they try pronouncing dog, I will have to translate that for later conversations. Then they want to know where I’m from, and the yeller wants me to feel his pounding heart. I was told in indoc that my dogs could be stolen but it won’t be from these guys who make heart shapes with their fingers when I tell them I’m from the States.
I say nothing more, walk Sparky, and just smile at the attendants on the way back to my room. Perhaps an abaya is a good idea to get sooner than later, especially for when Caleb has underways, and I will just let the dogs into the backyard at night. I feel bad for Bahrain that gets such a bad reputation on the news, but so do a lot of places in the States. If that’s all any stateside person knew about the States they might not want to visit there either.
A lot of locals don’t appreciate the Saudis coming over, getting drunk, and driving like crazy regardless. But MWR has a cultural tour today to see camels of the royal family and drive the Saudi Causeway. Even Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan have their beauty to be seen – if you can look past the violence or be allowed in their country to do so. I look forward to going into the great desert that is Saudi Arabia to see their lifestyle for myself.
I play ball with Sparky while waiting for the other two to wake. Then I get to tell Caleb how my morning has gone before he takes Piggy out. Sparky will sit by the door and await their return. Then it’s time for us to go to the forts of Muharraq. We arrive at Arad Fort before 8am and notice another car waiting. We walk down the path between the fort wall and the water and Caleb looks up their hours. They don’t open until 9am. We decide to try the other fort – Abu Mahir – located at the tip of Muharraq. It takes us six minutes to drive there, detour included, to see an active coast guard base with a metal door at the entrance.
Maybe we can go back when we have a base pass or maybe we could ask to walk on base. There is a fishing port/city using its beaches next door. We will just drive back and wait in the car or the shade next to the shrimp remains and water bottles, but when we get there the gate is open. I park on the outside of it and we walk in to look at the outside, but it seems they are open early as a man near the information room is waving us towards him.
The entry fee is BD1 per person and then he walks over, past the man doing repairs, and unlocks the gate to to the fort to let us in. He will sit outside while we walk around inside. I don’t know how well the fort worked but it looks well built with a moat and nose angled holes for the people inside to shoot out of. There are some rooms and modern stairs. Caleb is cautious to walk along the upper wall and I show him that the rocks are sturdy, it’s the old wooden beams he should be weary of. I’m sure they would snap under a cat’s weight.
Back at the entrance to the fort I ask about the other buildings inside the walls and the man says yes. We walk over and open random doors to find shelves, beds, and lights inside. One has a car that was cut perfectly in half. I don’t know what these were used for. I had guessed camel stalls at first, but now with the two locked ones that we saw it could be a storage facility. Also in the outer fort walls are a few old boats. Caleb tells me some of what he knows about them – where the captain sleeps and where the crew poops.
We were there for only 25 minutes, but it felt like two hours. I was short of breath going up the stairs and was anxious to get back in the A/C of the car and finish my bottle of water. From here I was ready to go home and rest a while but Caleb reminded me that we needed dog food. We went by Alosra Market but Pet Arabia was closed. We noticed the aviary on the way in – unlike last time when we walked there. It’a a large dome cage full of doves, pigeons, and other gray birds. We went to Lulu’s thinking that a bigger store would have more options. We were wrong. The small store sells five varieties and the multi-storied shopping complex sells Pedigree.
I want to try places out in town. I like the experience but Caleb says we should go to base so we are sure to get dog food and he needs some drops for his contact lens. As we’re walking on base we see a mother holding her son’s hand with her labia hanging out. We are curious if base security will turn her around but they only make faces at each other. Once inside we realize we need more water, some more cooking veggies to go with all the carbs at home, and some eggs.
We are at the register waiting on another guy to finish checking out. The first twenty cases of soda he bought weren’t enough. He has to use all but a dollar of the $150 in 1s and 5s that he was given before going to buy the booze. He says we are healthier than him but I don’t feel that way with all the cans and boxes on the conveyor belt. I will leave Caleb at the roundabout and go to the car with the eggs to come back and pick him up with all the groceries. I trip over a rock in the parking lot and an image of me wearing broken eggs flashes in my mind as I catch my footing, wait at the light to u-turn, then wait for the van to pull past Caleb so I can park beside him.
Caleb mentions dinner and I think about lunch. I can’t believe it’s only 10:40am in the morning. I feel like it’s 3 o’clock. He tells me the heat will do that, but I am getting better at dealing with the heat as it continually increases as the peak of summer arrives. He will walk the dogs while I put away the food. I feel bad upon his return as Piggy hasn’t quite memorised her walking path yet so she is more than ready to stop while Sparky is more energetic and ready to bounce from shade to shade.
Both are on the floor tired from the small trip outside. I’m looking through the brochures we got. The MWR one says that the Arad Fort is open on Saturday from 9 to 6 and the fee is 200 fils. The fort’s brochure says it’s closed on Saturday, perhaps that’s why we got charged so much. Oh well, we got to learn a bit about the history of Bahrain. The fort was built by Arabs in the 15th century, captured by the Portuguese, and then seized by the Omanis. Maybe one day we will be able to attend one of the cultural events or shows there.
We flip through some channels, mainly 2, 4, and 19 – some are TV shows and others movies. We watch The Chaperone – dad gets out of prison and turns his life around – while I sip on the martini in a 6-inch tall glass Caleb made me. We snack on cheese and crackers. We are waiting for it to cool off so we can take the dogs out and go swimming, but like everyone else that sits in front of a TV long enough their lives will get sucked into it and hours of time will disappear. We take the dogs to the second bridge and back, we don’t eat dinner, and Caleb goes to bed. I prep for his first day tomorrow, he’s already taken a shower, and then I join him.