I know it has been a while since I last wrote about our adventures here in Bahrain. Partly, we have gotten much busier: the first week felt like a vacation – there was no guilt in going to the pool, lounging in the hotel room, and taking tours around the island. School started and Josh got incredibly busy juggling many classes with numerous levels of Spanish, Cayden spent the days learning to adjust and Anya and I have spent countless hours at the base signing forms for visas and ID cards, immunizations and housing leases and just as many in traffic. There are so many cars, no public transportation and from the looks of it, no carpooling going on. So we are getting used to leaving earlier, people blocking the way, and traffic lights that don’t work.
I guess the other part would be that we have been here one month; and as I anticipated, it is no longer a vacation and the pure excitement of moving has waned, shaded by the reality that this is now our every day lives, for better or for worse. If I explore my heart right now, I find that I am simultaneously embracing this culture and the extreme changes in our midst, and longing for the comforts of home and community of friends and family.
On a daily basis, there are moments that kindle any number of emotions: frustration, awe, disbelief, joy, resignation. Here are a few of those occasions:
As we walked the grounds of the Ritz with my dad, our friend Meg, and the kids, Cayden exclaimed that he saw lightening off in the distance. We chalked it up as heat lightening, even though there is now a coolness in the breeze, especially in the evenings. We woke up this morning to darkening clouds on the horizon; they eventually approached our hotel with a vengeance – heavy sheets of rain and all we can think is that we brought no raincoats or umbrellas with us for this portion of our stay in the hotel.
We went down as a family and I sprinted through the sheets and through the poorly drained, flood-filled parking lot to get the car. Driving to school was like navigating a boat – I can’t say that I have ever heard water lapping up against the side of my car as we did this morning. I felt like we were on the travel channel. Finally, after crossing many lakes, we arrived at school, with only 4 kids in Cayden’s class – the other 13 were stuck on buses somewhere between home and school. After thirty minutes, we found out that our sailing was in vain, that as a result of the heavy rains and flooding, the water was not working throughout the school, so everyone was sent home at 8:30am. By that time, trucks had sucked many of the lakes and rivers up (Bahrain’s drainage system), so the lapping was at a minimum. This storm came early in the season, and I certainly hope it stays away, at least until we have unpacked boxes and uncovered our umbrella.
On the way to a park the other day, we did a double take as we caught sight of a young boy, no more than 10, riding a pure white donkey on the sidewalk near our car, and cross the city street like this mode of transportation was the norm. Just call me Mary.
I understand why people say living here is easy – most people have drivers, maids, cooks, nannies, but also every gas station is full-serve. Each time I have pulled in, I reach for the car door when I remember to reach for the window instead. One perk: to fill up a regular size car only costs us 3.5 BD, which is approximately $9.
We have seen my dad quite a bit and those have been moments full of joy and for me, a continued sense of amazement. After twenty years and hundreds of short phone calls and even shorter reunions once or twice a year in the States, I just can’t believe that he is a short stone’s throw away. The kids have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Jiddou (Grandpa), and we have appreciated his help in finding a house, finding great restaurants to eat at (one felt like we were on a movie set, it was so beautiful) and just taking walks or grabbing a bite somewhere.
Speaking of finding a house, we have found the one! We hope to be moved in by the end of next week, should everything go as planned. Stay tuned for more pictures. I have posted just a couple below. We will get some better ones once we move in.
Time to get some shut-eye. The kids have taken to waking up by 5:30 every morning since getting over the initial jet lag. I keep my fingers crossed that maybe a bit of jet lag is still hanging on, but who am I kidding? Bahrain has made our kids early risers – maybe I can train them to bring us breakfast in bed. Speaking of breakfast, Cayden and Anya, unbeknownst to us, called room service at 5pm the other night and put in an order for two eggs, two hot chocolates, one coffee and a fruit platter. When Cayden told us, we laughed until he insisted that they really did call; sure enough, Josh had to call and cancel the order. Next thing we know, they’ll be ordering us dinner at 5:30 in the morning.