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More villa photos

I walked around this morning and captured some of the beautiful details of the neighborhood. Click any image for a larger view.

 

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All is well and busy

I dont have much to report today. I didn’t leave the villa at all yesterday. Darren has been working full days and I don’t dare go anywhere without him. I’ve been working quite a bit, too. So we’re looking forward to the weekend and to our last few full days together next week before I have to head back to the U.S. I’m hoping that starting on Friday, we’ll be able to see some of Bahrain for a few days in a row.

This Saturday is Darren’s birthday (and my Mom’s birthday, too). His buddies are coming back to our place for a little party. Me and the Navy men again. =) 

Villa details

These are a few detail photos of Darren’s villa. I will take more photos outside of the entrance doors to each building. They are all different and all very beautiful.

Hummus

Or hommos, as it was listed on the menu. We had the best hummus last night from a restaurant called Al Abraaj. It was smooth and creamy and served with fresh, warm flat bread. It was so simple and delicious and made me fall in love with hummus all over again. We even ordered a tub and a couple of pieces of bread to take home. They are in the refrigerator calling my name as I type. I need to wait for Darren to get home so we can share. 

What else did we have for dinner? Lamb chops. Grilled lamb chops with rosemary. They were perfectly cooked and so full of flavor. I think I made happy noises all through dinner. To wash it all down we had fresh squeezed juice. Darren had a strawberry juice and I had a watermelon juice. Just fresh squeezed juice – nice and simple. Have you ever heard of strawberry or watermelon juice? Last week in Abu Dhabi I had a fresh squeezed pomegranate juice. 

The food is inspiring me to eat differently when I get back home. And this was not our last trip to Al Abraaj restaurant.

http://www.al-abraaj.com

Workout on base

Yesterday was a wonderful, lazy day. It was the last day of the weekend in Bahrain. We had breakfast and then watched two movies – Bridesmaids and Thor. In the afternoon we got motivated enough to go workout on base. Getting me on and off the Navy base is finally becoming a more normal process. They made a copy of my passport on a piece of pink paper. I carry that with me and turn it in each time. In return I get a guest pass and I have to remain with Darren at all times (like I would know where to go without him). 

We changed into workout clothes and went to the gym in Darren’s warehouse building. His office is right by the gym, which is nice. My sister would love to have that kind of setup. It was the weekend, so the building was mostly empty. There were two men working out in the gym—both shirtless because they had ridiculously ripped bodies they wanted to show off. But I hardly noticed…=)

Darren and I ran on treadmills for 40 minutes. I kept thinking to myself, here I am in another unique situation. Working out inside a Navy base in the Middle East. The gym overlooks the warehouse below. There is a row of offices all around the perimeter on the second floor. In the middle of the warehouse is an enormous American flag. 

After the workout I used the women’s locker room to clean up. Darren showered and changed in his locker room and we met back up at his office. Then we went to the NEX. Here I have to trade my entry guest badge for a NEX guest badge. Being cleared on base doesn’t clear me directly to go into the NEX. We picked up some groceries to make dinner. I’ve been trying to get Darren to eat more vegetables, so I picked up ingredients for a stir fry—fresh snow peas, broccoli, mushrooms, and garlic. The produce section of the NEX is small, but the vegetables looked great. I did notice there is no fresh meat. Everything is frozen, which I’m sure is all about shipping. Even the bread was cold from having been frozen. I’ll have to keep that in mind as I think about meals to cook. It will be a good challenge for me.

The neighborhood

I snapped this photo today of the villa across the street from where Darren lives. This is our neighborhood. Several nice villas, many of them seem brand new. There is a lot next to Darren’s building where they could build another building and there are a few other empty lots in the area. The streets through much of the neighborhood are dirt, not paved. It’s like they did it backward—built the buildings first, and now they are going back and putting in drainage pipes and tearing up the streets. Several times we’ve had to detour through the neighborhood to get home because there would be a big hole in the dirt road. Darren is hoping for solid or paver streets before his tour here is up. That may be wishful thinking. 

The dirt streets are somewhat charming—it’s mostly sand. But absolutely everything is covered in a layer of sand here. The windows, the buildings, the cars, the trees.  Everything looks grayed over in sand. And it hardly every rains, so the dirt does not get washed away. I want to be able to take a hose to everything so I can see what color it is and what it really looks like. I know it’s all beautiful underneath.

Bahrain begins

We made it safely to Bahrain. The airport was an experience. We got checked into the Abu Dhabi airport without incident. When we started boarding, we actually had to board a bus first. Turns out our plane was lined up in a back lot with a several other planes. Such a potpourri of people on the bus. Lots of different languages. There was a large contingency of men who were being sent to Bahrain (and maybe beyond) to do labor work. They looked like cattle being herded.

The plane ride was short—almost exactly like flying from Indianapolis to Chicago. When we landed in Bahrain, we took another bus from the plane to the airport. This bus ride was much shorter, which is good, because the stench of people who hadn’t bathed in weeks was hanging in the air.

The passport line. Why is it I always manage to get in the line that moves the slowest? Of course, I became one of the reasons the line moved slow. I had to fill out a card explaining where I came from, why I was in Bahrain, when I would be leaving, etc. The passport agent asked me lots of questions. It’s good Darren was with me and carrying credentials that made him very legitimate. We weren’t sure why they don’t hand out those questionnaire cards on the airplane. That would have save lots of time.

Security. After the passports and before we could get our bag, we had to go through a little security line. They pulled aside my camera bag and asked me about it. They wanted to know if it was my camera and what it was for. I told them it was just for personal photos. They really don’t like photos here. People in Abu Dhabi were leery of photos, too. I remember at the Mosque and Emirates Palace Hotel, there were signs about not taking photos of the local people.

Darren has a favorite cab driver in Bahrain named Mohed. We called him before we left Abu Dhabi and, God love him, he was waiting right in the lobby for us. We all walked out to his little cab—probably the cutest cab I’ve ever seen. It almost looked like a PT Cruiser, but with slightly different lines. The top was all painted out in checkers. Our luggage went next to the driver. We sat in the back with tons of leg room. It was nice. Driving through Bahrain, I liked what I was seeing. We passed a shipyard where they were making wooden boats. I definitely want to go back and look at that again. I’d like to photograph the boats if nobody takes issue with it.

We spent yesterday afternoon/evening entertaining some of Darren’s friends and co-workers. A few of them are leaving for new assignments, so there were lots of toasts and stories and heartfelt speeches. We started the gathering at Darren’s flat. Then we all went to the chief’s club on base. There was a more formal gathering of people there. Six men were given awards and sent on to their next assignment with applause and laughter and poems and genuine care. All done Navy-style, of course. It was really fun. Eric, the master chief I met in Tennessee, was there. He presented three awards. He was kind enough, after the first award, to introduce me to the entire group and have them welcome me. I felt like some kind of VIP.

I’ll look forward to seeing more of Bahrain in the coming week.