A few days ago was my first day driving in Bahrain. We finally rented a car and procured for ourselves greater freedom. The shuttle is an accommodating service, and sometimes it is nice to sit back and take in the scene, but one starts to feel a little dependent on someone else’s schedule and destinations.
Driving here is crazy. Not so much that there is disorder, although you really do have to be on alert at all times as people will cut in front or squeeze their way in with no signal or warning. But there are no road signs! I just called another school and she isn’t even able to give me directions, because there are no street names! Only landmarks: “Go around the tree and past the furniture store.” Or “Go through the roundabout and at the second signal, turn right. There will be a gas station on your left.” Time to download the right software to my GPS!
I drove Josh and Cayden to school – Cayden, by the way, is doing a little better, but still cries when I leave and says that school is too long. 8-2:30 is a pretty long day for a kindergartener, but he does enjoy Specials at the end of the day. Thursday’s Special was Host Nation, where Cayden learned that Eid is a celebration and camels here have only one hump. He will leave Kindergarten knowing more about Bahrain than Josh and I do.
I then visited one of the British-curriculum based schools in the area that has a pre-school for Anya. It should have taken me 10 minutes to get there, instead it took me 25! I did so many u-turns and backtracking, I was dizzy. There’s the gas station, there’s the roundabout, but where is the light?!? I guess getting lost is a good way to get to know the area…..if you can find your way back. Fortunately, I did.
The school reminded me a little of the British school I went to when I was that age up until 6th grade, although we didn’t wear uniforms. They wanted to put Anya in the 2-3 year old class, which she is way beyond, thanks for Sonshine Preschool. So I will continue looking for a good school for Anya. In the meantime, we are “playing school” at home – we just finished working on letter recognition, tracing, cutting and pasting, and it is now recess time. Together, we will explore Bahrain.
On Friday, we went to church on base. It was a nice service, but they don’t have Sunday school – or I should say Friday school – for Anya’s age, so we may need to go elsewhere. Trying to occupy a three and five year old for an hour and a half might get a little exhausting week after week. There was a great group of Gospel singers that we all enjoyed listening to, and of course, lots of diversity. On the way home from church, we were stopped in traffic to allow for the exiting of all those praying at the Grand Mosque, a beautiful landmark in downtown Bahrain.
Yesterday, I went with Meg and some other teachers to a great craft fair, or bazaar, way down south in Riffa. Again, I really had no idea the island was as big as it is. I was surprised that we could drive for over thirty minutes through desert mostly and still have a ways to go. The bazaar was mostly handmade items – baked goods, paintings, clothing, jewelry, souvenirs, and interesting items such as camel puzzles and henna painting. It was good to get out and do something fun with other adults – as we have yet to meet other families with kids our age, I really have only been with the kids on a day-to-day basis.
We had lunch at a shisha lounge – empty in the middle of the day, except for one man who I don’t think took his mouth off the pipe. I found this great article if you want to read more about the shisha, or hookah. The service was incredibly slow, with the waitress bringing out one person’s meal at a time, interrupted by a fork here and a napkin there, all served from a tray; it took ten minutes from the first order served until Meg and I got our pizza. Oh well, at least I got to enjoy the decorations on the wall as I waited – red construction paper hearts and red feathers, taped to the walls.
As we were driving the other evening and stopped at a stoplight, we looked over and right in the middle of the street was a man riding a beautiful brown horse. He crossed the highway as if it were made for horses, and rode off into the sand. Talk about a random sighting.
There have been lots of those, and will continue to post them in the days and weeks to come.