Today’s post is inspired by the ten soaps/scrubs in my shower – the one I took after getting the living room light bulbs replaced, working out in the gym for an hour, helping myself to another piece of bread, messaging my husband at work, tending to my blind dogs, and mopping the floor again.
It was in this moment I realised how focused I’ve been on writing about my travels to other countries and forgetting that my readers have no idea how Bahrain has been for me over the last year – what soap I use, what staples are now in our fridge and cabinets, that we have the a/c running all year, how the car is doing with the fact that I had two accidents within two weeks of moving here, the health status of my ageing dogs, how my husband is getting along after making chief and having knee surgery, and what I do to pass the time.
I’ve got lotion on my shelf that I’ve had since we lived in Virginia and a collection of smells gifted to me throughout the US and in Bahrain. My soaps consist of mother-in-law homemade, pastes from Africa, scrubs from Jordan, scents I found in Bahrain, and the rest are probably made in China. Our toilet system now consists of a water hose and a giant roll of paper to wipe away the wetness. We have separate water heaters for the two showers and the kitchen and I’m sure to use all the hot water in each.
Our fridge is full of beers, soda, juice, and cheese – leftovers from get-togethers that are waiting to be used. The cabinet – chocolates from travels, lentils from California, five varieties of peanut butter, and Caleb’s baking supplies. The freezer – full of chicken from an overnight in the desert spent eating meat and bread; dancing on the fire and with each other; and playing cards and guitar while waiting for the sun to rise.
The air conditioner runs all year between 21 and 24 degrees Celsius. I’ve gotten better at metric measurements as the States have chosen to maintain a difference between the rest of the world in a statement of their power – or something American like that I’m sure. The temperature outside varies from 13 to 50, which might not sound like much in Celsius but in Fahrenheit is 55 to 122.
The car had recalls sent out and I took it to the local dealership to be told the first time that they deal with Bahrain/Japan Mazda, not America. The Ford dealership would’ve worked on it for me if it weren’t for stepping on logo toes… I have to understand. I go back with a friend that speaks Arabic, only to yell at the guy across the desk for not listening. I leave the car over their week-long holiday and return refreshed to wait in an office for one of the top bosses who will finally get my car in the shop and charge me accordingly.
The car was losing power due to the throttle body malfunctioning. I was able to drive off the lot, having paid for shipping, and the car has worked fine since. Speaking of, it’s actually 400 miles past due for an oil change which I get done at shops that also do car washes – including steaming the engine to get the sand out. This should also be a heads up to anyone looking to ship their car overseas. Be ready to wait on parts and deal with difficult people who don’t want to do their job.
Piggy is still blind, equally so in both eyes since arrival in Bahrain. I discovered a lump in her belly about two weeks ago, but I’m hesitant to have the vet cut it out as it’s either nothing to worry about or cancer which could give her six months to live – and I’m not paying for chemo. About two months ago, Sparky started running into things and drinking more. He is now blind with hypothyroidism and we are dealing with a swollen liver with medication and prescription food at the moment. I will not let the vet open my dogs up after seeing him take blood from Sparky’s arm and the razor burn he suffered near his man bits after being shaved for an ultrasound.
Caleb got pinned for Chief in September and had to stand there on sore knees during the four-hour ceremony. I went for a haircut and returned in time to wear his new combination cover (fancy name for big hat) through the mini-store on base. He finally had knee surgery in October after waiting nine months and was given a few weeks off work. His hair returned gradually to his leg as he slowly took the stairs and eventually climbed back onto his bike.
I spend my nights in hot tubs; eating Eritrean at Tango 338, Thai at Honey’s and Baan Saeng, Korean at Arirang and Da Rae Jung, BBQ, Mexican at Señor Pacos and Casa Mexicana, Bahraini on Shawarma Alley and House of Baleleet, American at Big TX BBQ – Waffle House, homemade at Said’s and Farid’s, fast food at Burger Town and Jan Burger, Indian at Vrindavan and Desi Spice, and pizza from Olivoli’s and Pizza by Mr. Slice; sharing stories by the poolside; making new friends at Internations; walking around at art events in Adliya; dancing in the club and especially on the campfire to keep warm while waiting for sunrise in the desert.
I’m the last to leave: the gym before closing; Lulu’s grocery store for cheesecake ingredients; and Tony Luke’s with 100 wings and five friends to help me eat them. I get to watch a meteor shower on the beach; wear deer antlers and a santa hat on different occasions; get my friends to cook for me at their homes and then invite them to mine; and the chance to master a hands-free Segway. I support my friends: the musician, salesman, magician, and fighter where they do their best work. I attended a Christmas-themed birthday party at Señor Pacos; was the only girl at my accidental going away party (just taking a vacation to London) with ten friends; and enjoying a curious night in a hotel and learning about Tinder.
The days are more simple and used to take Caleb to work and return to the house to cuddle, play with, walk and feed dogs. Sometimes being up early involves stopping at Dome for a caramel nut crunch espreski – coffee, ice cream, and candy – a $5 meal. This will give me the energy to join friends for lunch, take Sparky to the vet, run errands on base, and take trips to the Saudi Causeway or the Tree of Life. The rest of the time is spent shopping, for food mostly, and planning for the night’s events. Then it’s wash, sleep, repeat.