My alarm goes off at 5:15, I look in the mirror, Caleb is in the other bathroom, and I hop in the shower. He tells me good morning as he shaves. I make sure we both have water, the bags of bottles to recycle, and my book to read while I wait for the housing office to open. I let the dogs downstairs to pee and carry Piggy back. I put on sunscreen, grab my hat, and we are out the door a few minutes past 5:30.
We park in the dirt lot and the buses are already filling with the first group of guys they will take to the other base. We kiss goodbye as I hear the XO telling other officers how she moved into her place but didn’t like the dingy couch and old bed, referencing her grandma’s house. I happen to like all my grandma’s houses and/or apartments. It was easy for her to find a place because she was here for two months during Christmas with her husband and had a two-week start on us. She also gets a government car while she’s here – there are perks to getting a degree and joining the navy.
I go upstairs in the Freedom Souq and find a comfy chair to sit in for the next hour and read Humboldt’s Cosmos. Breakfast is an apple bran bagel with apple cinnamon cream cheese. I decide to eat it under the shade near the housing office and am quickly met with others sitting nearby. I realize I’m first in line. The order won’t stand true once the door opens 45 minutes later, but I’m still the first in the door and to the counter. I’m called back and asked for an address card that I don’t have – some official piece of paper that verifies the address and name of the owner.
I give the lady the address we’re interested in to put in the computer and she can’t find it. That means that no other military person has stayed there yet and the landlord is going to have to jump through hoops so we can. The navy requires a fire extinguisher, gas detector, fire blanket, etc. Some of the things required aren’t even mandatory in the States, but I guess we all shouldn’t model our safety procedures after a country that lets a two-year old bounce around in the front of a car between his mother’s lap and the dash.
She tells me to let the landlord fill out the paper and come back July 2nd when I have another appointment for someone to look over all the required documents I’ll have collected. Then they will have to send someone out to inspect the place and then there will be more paperwork. I don’t mind the delay as it gives us more time in the hotel to save up for our deposit that will be needed when we sign the lease.
From there I go to the NEX to get some more Ramadan appropriate clothing. I find two ankle-long skirts with slips to the knees. I find an elastic-top dress and pick out twenty shirts to try on over the top. I settle on a sheer short sleeve even though I liked a more dressy open one it had a ruffled butt. I don’t think I need to be drawing attention to that, and it looked weird to me. I paid for that and then went back by housing to check on the next housing brief for Caleb so that he can tell the guys at work that are still arriving.
I get back to the little black car and have trouble opening the door. I put the key in the ignition and stand outside while I wait for the car to cool down below burning. It still hurts to touch the steering wheel when I get in. Luckily Caleb has desert protective gear on order for when our car arrives. I had thought about going by Lulu’s on the way home, but Diana texted me that I could meet with the landlord today. I told her noon.
This is my first time driving alone in Bahrain. I was concerned about construction and traffic coming home from base and Caleb said I could be his chaperone to limit the stress on him. I heard some things aren’t done with quality here, but they sure don’t rebuild roads slowly. There’s an intersection that used to have the left lane closed and now it’s the right. I thought that would leave days or weeks of having to merge with people who don’t care about their cars, but one side is done in two weeks, so it will be a short time before the other side is finished.
At home the dogs are sleeping on the couch. No accidents have occurred and they are happy to see me so they can poop and finally get some breakfast. That made me think about the buffet but it’s already past 10am. I will let my clothes air out while I wait on Diana to arrive. I can refill my water and the dogs’ too.
Diana gets here at noon and takes me over to meet Muhammad, the property manager, so that we can finish negotiations while she goes to Carlsbad and La Jolla and Sea World this Friday for a week. She mentions getting the garden done and he says he will have to talk to the landlord. Diana wants to make sure the dogs have a small patch of grass to call their own. They ask what else I need. Water cooler – nope. That’s BD30. Internet – nope, but you can have cable with the TV you don’t have. Oh, we aren’t supplying you with furniture like other semi-furnished places. We’re only giving you a fridge, stove, and some curtains.
I smiled my way through the rest of the conversation. Gave Muhammad the paper for the landlord to fill out and sign and got a ride home. Now I’m debating going to base to get another pre-contract for the other place to ensure we have a place to live. We might’ve gotten more amenities, but he saw that the electric paid by landlord yearly went up. I don’t know the annual rate but I know Caleb and I always use less than our neighbours, but they have to abide by the paperwork. I want this to be a fun process and if it was just Caleb and I it wouldn’t matter so much where we lived, but having the dogs limits the places we’re allowed and that’s convenient to walk them.
I eat some hobnobs and pass out on the couch until housekeeping rings the bell. I tell them no thank you and lay back down until Caleb texts me that he’s getting off work. In the dirt lot an attendant asks if I would like the car washed. When I say no he smears his fingers through the dust to prove that it’s dirty and needs a wash. I notice some guys from Caleb’s crew and wait along the wall in the shade with them talking about finding a place and visiting the Tree of Life. Their bus is going to be another 20 minutes and I’m told Caleb will come from the other side of base so I go through security to wait in the shade under fans.
I talk to another guy that Caleb works with and he’s having just as hard a time getting what he wants. He wants a roommate and the realtor is showing them five-bedroom places – too big for their budget. Caleb finally shows up. I tell him how today went and we walk to the housing office together. We will get the two-bedroom – the first place we saw. It might be small, but it comes with furnishings, amenities, water access, grass, and sidewalks. We will negotiate to get a fence put in so that Piggy doesn’t accidentally go swimming. We will have them empty out one bedroom and put all our stuff there.
We get called back and the lady tells us that we can only have one contract out at a time. Well, looks like I have lots of texting and meetings to do to get things going in the right direction again. We are walking the dogs and I start thinking about the place with the extended living room that would give us more space for all our stuff. Maybe I can set up this contract but look around with another realtor or two and make sure we’ve seen all our options. We’re going to be living in the place for at least a year and a half and I want to make sure it’s comfy for all of us – not having boxes stacked in the bedroom or along the stairs because we couldn’t find a place to unpack them.
Dinner is Ramen with eggs, brie, and tomato. Tonight’s movie is John Carter, a story about a man who gets sent to Mars – not as sci-fi as you would think, but there are aliens in it. I tell housekeeping to come back in the morning, so as to not interrupt our dinner. They might be on a schedule, but I don’t know what it is yet. They’ve come by between us leaving after breakfast and coming back from base, around 10:30am, 1:30pm, and 6:30pm. The lobby is open 24 hours which means constant valet, housekeeping, and room service.
There’s room enough here for us to live, but the weekend raves keep Caleb up. His Senior Chief said we should join the party. Not only is it past curfew, but I’m sure that’s asking for trouble. They do keep someone by the pool at all times – someone to fish out the drunks and squeegee water to help prevent falls. We don’t need to be present when their soccer team loses or maybe even when they win. Or maybe we do. I want to go to a live game to experience the culture and feel the excitement of so many sports fans that follow their teams around the world.