It is almost noon on Saturday (our Sunday) and we have been enjoying a relaxing, uneventful morning here in our hotel suite. Reading, coloring, building forts out of thick hotel comforters, pillows and chairs, and scarfing down a weekend waffle.
I just walked into the living area from our room which overlooks the entrance to the hotel residences, and watched as Josh walked, camera slung on his back, toward the Grand Mosque to capture its sights and sounds. I stood by the window, my heart full, as it occurred to me for the umpteenth time since arriving how odd and marvelous to watch my husband get acquainted with, what to me, is a long-lost friend: this part of the world with all its heat, its deserts, its people and its culture. A friend to whom I have only ever dreamed I would have the pleasure of introducing my family. I watched Josh’s feet hit the hot sidewalk and marveled that he was walking into my dream – our dream. Here we are.
Yesterday we had the joy of visiting another church, which we really loved. There were lots of kids, and both Cayden and Anya enjoyed their “Sunday” school classes and both walked out with a chocolate krispie bar, a little box of smarties, and a box of juice. I had forgotten how much candy people love to give to kids here! Anya’s teacher was Jordanian and had a very thick accent, and the pastor is from Australia. It was very moving for us to sit in church surrounded by people from all over the world, singing some of the same songs we know and love. We are very grateful to have found this place, as we miss our home church in Ventura.
After a short rest back at the hotel, my dad picked us up to take us to a restaurant called Fish Market, located within a small resort in the middle of nowhere, it seemed. The kids were exposed for the first time to a wide array of fresh large and small fish, squishy squid, shrimp and lobster, beautifully arranged on ice and ready for choosing. We chose fish fingers for the kids, and for us, hamour, a brown-spotted reef cod one and one of the largest coral dwelling fish to be found in and around the Persian Gulf. We ordered it teriyaki style with rice and it was very delicious.
For as long as I can remember, there wasn’t a place we would go, whether in Saudi Arabia or any of the other countries we traveled to, that my dad would not run into someone he knew. It became a family joke. Yesterday was no exception. One couple we saw remembered me when I was a little girl, and were thrilled to now meet my children, my dad’s grandchildren. The other family invited us for a boat ride and we decided it would be a fun experience, especially for the kids.
A motor boat picked us up in the small harbor, and it was thrilling, really, to watch the kids screaming with delight as we sped through the warm air and ocean waves. As parents, we were somewhat apprehensive as none of us, including the kids, had life jackets on (Papa, you aren’t reading this right now!). Our destination was Al Dar Island, the nearest island getaway in Bahrain – dolphin watching, jet skiing, beach parties, and snorkeling. We transferred to their large yacht, which Cayden appropriately exclaimed was like a house; they couldn’t get over the fact that there was carpet, a bathroom and bedrooms and a small kitchen on a boat!
We enjoyed drinks in the company of my dad’s friends, and moved up to the top deck to watch the jet skiiers, listen – and dance- to Arabic music, and watch the Arabian sun turn into a big orange, fiery ball descending behind the skyline. A full moon cast its bright light onto the water, and we breathed in deep the warm ocean air, marveling at our surroundings and where the day had brought us. As I told my dad, “One never knows what surprises await when they spend a day with you!”
Even though the kids had had their fill, we ended the day at the base where there was a free movie showing of Despicable Me and complimentary popcorn for all military personnel and families. The large room was packed and the kids, though exhausted by now, enjoyed this day’s ending. We are learning that there are many such activities, events and entertainment offered at the base, and it is fun to be able to participate.
It was a long, fun-filled day and we are grateful we still have this one day left to enjoy and rest. Happy weekend to the rest of the world!