A morning at the base

Anya and I just returned from the base. Fortunately, we got our military ID’s yesterday so we are now able to access everything on the base – a commissary with grocery store, shopping, movie theater with free movies, a post office with free mailing, DVD rental and liquor store, a library and CDC for childcare, and more. I learned that it is one of the smallest bases in the world, and just last year started allowing families to accompany their spouses in service. All families live off-base, but they have plenty of activities and resources for kids and families.

I did some grocery shopping and while they have many items, I do so miss Trader Joes and more readily available healthier options! I am keeping my fingers crossed for an Organic Foods and Cafe that is supposed to open up at one of the malls we visited yesterday – a store with over 12,000 organic foods would be wonderful; however, I imagine the prices will be through the roof.

Even at the base, everything is more expensive. I look forward to shopping more at some of the local megamarts such as LuLu, Geant, and Carrefour, and also at some mom and pop grocery stores. My first mission is to find a bakery where I can buy fresh Arabic bread and savory items. At the mall food court yesterday, there was a bakery called Golden Dough, chock full of beautiful pastries and savory items like small Arabic pizzas called Lahm Bi Ajin and little calzones filled with meat called sambousek or with spinach called fatayer. (For those following me on Randa4Health, I will post these recipes soon if you want to try making them on your own. Otherwise, you will just have to come and visit to try one!)

Since we haven’t rented a car yet, Anya and I waited outside the base for the shuttle, as the man at the hotel had said 10-15 minutes. Well, after 30 minutes of waiting in the hot sun with three bags of heavy (and cold) groceries, I called and he said, “No, Ma’am, we leave the hotel at 10:15, we be there 10:25.” Welcome to the beginning of miscommunication! The experience reminded me of my life growing up in Saudi where we often waited for our driver to pick us up with melting ice cream and souring milk in our bags. At least I have the imminent hope of driving on my own – my mother did not. She was dependent completely on the driver or my dad to go anywhere – and waited many cumulative hours in the hot Saudi sun.

So we watched people walk in and out, most of them military personnel and I pondered the very different lifestyle of the military, and all these men and women in service have left behind. The guy who did our ID’s yesterday has traveled all over the world as part of being based in places like Japan, Germany, and even our neighbor cities in California, Port Hueneme and San Diego! He expressed a little quizically his surprise at our decision to leave such a beautiful area. However, he understands the significance of the experience, enrichment and global exposure we are giving to our kids, not to mention our ability to travel to many places we otherwise would not have the chance to do. Right now, we are deciding where to go for the school’s 5 day Eid break and then again at Christmas – Dubai? Egypt? Oman?

For those of you praying for Cayden, here is an update. He did a little better yesterday and was ecstatic when our friend Emi, who is the Sports Director at the school, picked him up from his classroom and let him help set up for a basketball game. This morning, he was very happy at home, but lost it right before we got to his classroom, so I waited with him until 8 when he went in. Yesterday when we picked him up he even talked about three boys he had played with. So, little by little, day by day, he is acclimating, as we all are.

The weather feels a little cooler and less humid today – only 35 degrees celsius, or 95 degrees fahrenheit. In the shade, with the breeze, it is actually quite pleasant. My dad was telling me it can get down to 35 degrees fahrenheit in the winter time – seems impossible at the moment!

We are off to the pool so Anya can expend some energy. Anyone care to join us?

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6 Comments

  1. Based on my discussions with friends from throughout the Middle East, Dubai is expensive, Egypt has insane traffic and unfriendly people, and well, I don’t know anything about Oman. That only leaves a few other countries, the most notable of which is Lebanon. Am I convincing you at all? Haha. I suggested Bahrain to my team for our midyear vacation, but so far Spain and Italy are topping the list. Loved seeing your pictures yesterday on your blog and reading about life in Bahrain!

  2. Randa,

    You’ll have to post a list of items from T.J.’s that you miss. You might get a few care packages as a result.

    Sarah

  3. Wow! You both write so beautifully. I’m thinking about Cayden and Anya and smiling at how much they are learning. They will be so well-prepared to take on new adventures and challenges, and more eager to try new things than their peers who stayed in America. Where it’s safe (?) I’m curious how Bahrain compares to Saudi Arabia, Randa. What are the differences and similarities? Besides the fact that you can drive!! Can you write freely on the blog or do you need to self censor? Keep the posts coming!

    1. Josh did write a beautiful and profound post. I can certainly blog on this, though only from experience. We feel safe here, and everyone we have talked to feel the same. When I lived in Saudi, it was well before 9-11 and most people hadn’t even heard of Saudi! So the times are different now, so to compare apples to apples would be difficult.

  4. My dad went to Oman not too long ago and I have heard wonderful things about it. If you want a true cultural experience, I vote for Oman. Dubai is crazy and in my opinion has no real culture… or it is hard to find. It is one insane mall/housing complex/tallest building in the world after another. If you know people there, it can be fun. As for Egypt, a definite must see… but you would probably want more than 5 days there as there is so much beyond Cairo to see. It is also very easy in Egypt to get taken/ripped off if you don’t know anyone who lives there… hey, my dad and wife are retiring to Egypt in 2012 so we can all go then!!!

    Was surprised to hear prices at the base are expensive. I thought they would be super cheap… but then, it is an island nation. Have you had a chance to explore any of the other local chains. I too REALLY miss Trader Joes and access to organic items. I think I cook healthier here though as everything I buy is fresh and needs to be used quickly. Nothing processed… I made “Addas bi hamod” the other day and thought of you and your healthy living blog… do you make it? The lentil/lemon soup? So yummy!

    You guys have to call my dad when you get a chance!! Yalla, talk soon!

    1. I, too, have heard wonderful things about Oman. I do have a Lebanese aunt who is a bakery chef and catered in Dubai, so we would stay with her. I have yet to go to LuLus or Geant, but plan to soon and do more of my shopping at these less expensive places. I have not cooked yet (!!!) – I know, shame shame, but soon enough, I will have plenty of recipes to post : ) I haven’t had Addas bi hamod in a long time – I love it! Josh and I were just saying we want to call your dad- perhaps this weekend. We look forward to meeting him. Are you guys traveling at all?