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There’s No Place Like Home

I’m all settled back home in the U.S. Yesterday was the longest day of my life.

After my last post about the airport, the day just got worse. I had originally planned on having a row of seats to myself on the plane. In fact, when the door closed and everyone was in their seat, I did have a row to myself. Then the vultures arrived. People started coming from the front of the plane looking for more space. It was quite a spectacle of people jockying for position. It actually continued throughout much of the 15 hour flight. I only had a row of my own for a short time. A woman with a crying baby plopped down at the end of my row, then cleared out the middle seat for the crying baby. She was with her family and they came by to say they had seats elsewhere and she should come. I thought, “Yes, please go.” As it turned out, she gave the seat in my row to her mother. That ended up being fine. She was nice and quiet and we had an unspoken understanding that we would share the seat space between us. Only two times did she take over the middle seat. The first time she laid in the fetal position in the two seats next to me. Her bare feet were up against my left leg. Normally I would freak out over that, but God must have granted me abundant patience yesterday. The second seat violation came when my rowmate wanted to try laying down again, this time with her head next to my leg. Again I had no problem with that. I know how uncomfortable it is to fly for so long.

The day seemed full of little annoyances. At one point I spilled half a glass of water on myself. I had my left leg tucked under me and the water soaked the leg of my jeans. I was only wet for a little while—the dry plane air sucked the water right out of my jeans. Then the remote for my in-flight entertainment was broken. The buttons for the up and left positions did not work. If I passed by a selection I wanted, I had to go all the way back to the home page and start over again. Because those two buttons were broke, I could also not check on the flight map that showed our progress. That was probably best, because I could not sleep and I just would have checked our progress over and over again. “Are we there yet?!” Instead, I kept track of time by the number of movies and television shows I watched. I’d list the movies I watched, but I can only remember a couple of them. I think my mind is working hard to block the memories, sights, sounds, and smells from yesterday.

Traveling really is not a glamorous thing. Being in new places is fun. Getting to those places is not. But I will soon forget the long trip home and will instead remember the good moments from my second trip overseas. The bonus? When I got home, spring had arrived! Daffodils, hyacinths, forsythia, magnolia…it’s all so pretty. And the grass is green. Ahh.

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Bahrain by the Numbers

18 – numbers of days of my trip
18 – number of days I worked while overseas
4 – number of showers I took at the flat (all other showers I took on base in the locker room) 
3 – number of times we had Al Abraaj for dinner (hummus and lamb chops)
3 – number of time we ate the The Dome (still the best latte on the planet)
2 – number of days I did not work out (keeping up with a SEAL is a full-time job)
1 – number of photo shoots I did this trip (see my strawberry post)

Ode to an Airport

Stale cigarette smoke, body odors, food, and the occasional passed gas. Ah, to be in a crowd at the airport. I’m in the Abu Dhabi airport now for my flight to the U.S. It is crazy busy here this morning. After deplaning my flight from Bahrain, I said goodbye to Darren (whimper) and made my way to the transfer area. The Bahrain airport was sleepy at 4:30 a.m. In sharp contrast, the Abu Dhabi airport is completely abuzz.

The transfer line was enormous. I finally cut in where a couple of people were leaving the line. Apparently it’s okay to be rude around here. People cut in line, walk directly into you, don’t respect personal space, and some people feel it’s beneath them to wait in a line. Those people were jumping out of line and forming a new line all their own. I failed to see their privileged status. Fortunately I have plenty of time between flights, so I can observe human kind in all it’s many forms with a sense of calm. I would photograph people if I didn’t think it would get me in serious trouble. 

I was three people away from putting my bags on the xray belt in the transfer line. Suddenly a group of people—I wish I knew their nationality—decided to join the line right at the front. They didn’t try to just blend in, they were actually pushing those of us in line off to the side. An old man with a luggage cart kept pushing his cart into me and trying to shove me out of the way. I was having none of it. I stood firm and did not let him move me. He had no qualms at all about what he was doing. I put my bags on the belt and moved his cart so I could walk in front of him. I needed to move away from that group as quickly as possible. Unreal.

I’m sitting on the cool tile floor near my gate now. The gate won’t open for another hour. I was the first to sit on the floor against the wall. In my peripheral vision I can see a whole line of people on the floor with me now. 

I’m amazed by what people wear to fly these days. Anything from sweat pants/sweater/tennis shoes to mini skirt/high heels to complete “I’m about to go for a day hike” outerwear to “I’m tired so I’m wearing my pajamas to fly.” A woman just walked by in clunky black tennis shoes, black yoga pants, and the prettiest white lace tiered shirt with sparkles on it. Huh? My favorite, both here and at U.S. airports, is the young girl with her hair in a messy bun, form fitting top, sweat pants, and Ugg boots. As if it’s such a chore to wash your hair and put on a pair of pants. Am I getting old?

 

Ticking Down

My time overseas is ticking down. Darn. Why does time have to move so quickly? 

It’s starting to warm up here in Bahrain. Today it will be in the 80’s and tomorrow the high is calling for 90 degrees. Another sign that time is lurching forward.

Easy Going Saturday

Yesterday was a nice, leisurely day. We slept in, then I did some work. Darren worked on his laptop, too. We were on dueling mac’s across the room from each other. The weather was great, so we turned off the air, opened the windows, and enjoyed the silence. After a few hours of work, we went to workout on base. I’m getting much better at running. I’m running at least 2.5 miles each time. Let’s see if I can keep that up once I get home.

We went to the Gulf Hotel for dinner last night. This hotel is where Darren lived for three weeks when he first got to Bahrain. What a swanky place. We walked by some very fancy, expensive cars (Aston Martin, Ferrari, etc.) in the parking lot. Inside, the hotel is covered in wood, marble, granite, crystal, and glass. Outside there is a beautiful garden with lots of trees, plants, and…pause for effect…grass! It’s the first grass I’ve seen in Bahrain. I had to bend down and touch it. There was also a very large swimming pool and hot tub. Quite a lovely hotel.

We had sushi at the Japanese restaurant in the hotel. As you enter the restaurant, the ceiling keeps getting lower. A little sign says to “mind your head.” It was a neat part of the experience, really, to crouch into a place. Once inside the restaurant, the ceilings are high again. It’s like finding a little cave and it opens up into something wonderful. It was some of the best sushi I’ve had. Everything tasted so fresh. As an appetizer we had pan-fried dumplings. We had our choice of chicken or pork, which surprised me. I thought pork was a complete no-no in the Middle East. We went with pork dumplings just because we could. They were delicious as well. The servers were all wearing kimonos and little sandals. Very authentic. 

Rooster

The other morning I thought I heard a rooster crow. Then I thought maybe I was making it up. I’m in a villa complex. Surely there isn’t a rooster on someone’s patio, is there?

Today has been beautiful weather. We opened many of the windows in the flat to let the sun and air inside. And, oh yeah, there is a rooster. It can’t be too far away. It’s been crowing all day. In a way, it’s kind of cool. I imagine if I lived here full-time, it would get old. But then again, in Bahrain there aren’t too many days when you can have the windows open.

I say crow all you want, rooster. It’s making for a soothing Saturday at home. If I knew where you lived, I’d come photograph you.

Fun with a Strawberry

The other day we made a pound cake. We sliced strawberries, macerated them in sugar, and put them over the cake. A little dollop of whipped cream and it was perfect. 

As we were slicing strawberries, this large strawberry begged to be photographed. So we set him aside in the fridge for the night and the next day, when the sun was right, the strawberry had it’s moment. These are my three favorite photos of the berry.

Yes, we are being leisurely this trip. =)

 

Melodies

We had dueling melodies outside this afternoon. It’s been cool enough to turn off the air conditioning and open the windows. It’s so peaceful inside without the air conditioner running all day. I was walking through the living room and heard the faint sound of “Twinkle, twinkle, little star” in the air. I chuckled, then I asked Darren if there are ice cream trucks in Bahrain. I guess there are. The little tune repeated over and over. Shortly after it was prayer time at the mosque. The mosque broadcasts prayer services over a load speaker. Normally we don’t hear it, but with the windows open, it was nice and clear. Kind of rhythmic and hypnotic. I thought it was an odd mix of tunes floating in the air. But it made me smile. 

Clear Day

Today so far is sunny and clear. A nice change from the last few days. There has been a fog in the air, which as it turns out, was sand. Everything is covered with a fine layer of sand—even things indoors. It’s crazy. I wonder how much sand I’ve ingested since I’ve been here…

The weather is a nice change from the last time I was in Bahrain. It’s in the low 70s during the day with a little humidity. It must always be at least a little humid here. As foreign as Bahrain is from my home, it’s still beautiful in its own monochromatic, sand-colored way.

Working Girl

I realize I’ve fallen behind on my writing. The days are melting away here. I have been working quite a bit and haven’t even taken my camera out of its bag yet. That seems wrong. Hopefully I’ll get out soon to shoot some photography and have a little fun. 

Right now we’re off to The Dome for lunch. That makes me a happy girl. Then it’s back home to work for a while (on a Saturday!), then probably go work out. Before I know it, another day will be in the books. Sigh. If anyone knows how to slow time, let me know.