Caleb got out of bed when my alarm went off. We got dressed and got in the car, both of us still groggy, and him tired enough to try to get us lost. I pulled up to the large, orange cone blocking the lane with the pass in the window and both IDs in hand. The guard asked if we were walking and I told him I’m driving Caleb on. He said ok, handed me the IDs, and looked at our trunk while I looked for a way to open it.
I popped the hood and then got the ok to drive. “Stay to the left… and after the speed-hump take a right.” I drop Caleb off near a tall cement wall with three mine sweeper boats on the other side. He tells me he’ll see me this afternoon and we might give some of the guys a ride so they don’t have to wait 45 minutes for a bus here, and then even longer for another one to get to their hotels. I understand why they don’t walk – it’s hot, they can’t drink, and they probably don’t know the way.
Leaving base, I stop at the cone on this side. The guard comes out of his tiny shack, moves the cone, looks at the pass, and then I wait for him to check the trunk and give me the ok before driving off. I was told yesterday that babies and booze aren’t allowed on this base. It’s a work area, not a place to get drunk and sell kids. One of the guards offered to hold a woman’s kid while she dropped her husband off. So I guess depending on the day and the mood of who’s on watch it can be difficult and tricky to get on base.
Back at the room, I have Cheerios then go outside to shut the hood of the car. I have to take care of TLA today – offices opening at 8 and 9am. I start working on my blog and get lost looking up travel plans for the Middle East and an eight country tour of Europe from Barcelona to Berlin. I managed lunch and to walk the dogs before leaving at 1pm. I was able to take care of TLA at PSD and ran into a guy (now OS1 Tate) from the ship I was on over eight years ago – USS Whidbey Island.
I looked for Bldg. 16, and when the lady helping me couldn’t figure it out I asked the guys sitting behind me and one told me it was to the left. I went that way and a guy pointed me to the Prayer Room, Bldg. 59, but went to look at a map so he could walk me over to the right area. I went to the door of Bldg 15 before finding the right one. I was invited inside and tempted by the popsicle being eaten and girl scout cookies on display. I was helped with what paperwork we need, how far in advance we need to submit it, and she emailed me some links so that I can do more research at home.
I remembered I would need an abaya, hijab, and niqab if we’re going through Saudi so I directed myself to the City Centre to go shopping. I met some nice women – one complimented me on my outfit after I adored her embroidery and others pointed to the $300 store when I asked where they got theirs. “Oh, I don’t shop” was one reply. She might not be given an allowance, but at least she’s allowed to hang out with family or friends. A lady overheard our conversation and affirmed what I already knew. The best place will be the Manama Souq.
I made my way back to the entrance I came in. I passed a swimsuit store and went in to try one on. I was going to be ok with the $70 price tag, but they didn’t have a top in my size. It’s hard too when it’s not in the usual sizes that I’m used to. It’s a long way around and I happened to pass a barber/cologne shop that specifically had amber in the name. I thought it pungent at first smell, so I rubbed some on my wrist and after it aired out it was lovely. I walked out, smiling, and smelling myself and this guy stops. “Hi, I’m from Syria. Do you speak Arabic?” I thanked him for his kindness and carried on. Caleb texted me that he was getting off work. It was time to go.
I picked Caleb up and all the other guys were already in the duty van and fine waiting for it to leave. We went to the uniform shop on base. It’s by the warehouses. I didn’t realize the base was so big until I had to walk so far to the back of it, but it seems worth it. There is uniforms, snacks, office supplies, motorcycle gear, etc. I picked up a binder so I can organise all the paperwork we have once I get our hole puncher. Caleb picked up some pins for a guy that’s getting advanced tomorrow.
From there we drove to MegaMart, ample parking outside today, and bought noodles, water (got a free large Fanta with it because it was unlabelled but sealed), garlic bread, and lemon pepper. At home I will make the cheesy noodles with garlic bread for dinner. We watch a chef competition show while we eat and then I do more travel planning while Caleb texts his dad and then goes for his nightly run.
I read a few pages and notice my dark and dry feet. I think I’m in great need for a pedicure until I wash them. They look healthy, clean, and brand new. It’s amazing what a little dust can do. Or a lot, like block out cell signal completely, and interrupt radio and TV transmissions. Caleb has another boat moored in front of him and wasn’t able to see it this morning. Everyday is an adventure.