Note: In retrospect, my first blog about Bahrain titled “The first 30 days in Bahrain” should have been titled something like, “What I’ve observed in the first 30 days” because this blog is really more about the first 30 days. I’m new to this blog thing. I’ll learn. Thanks for hanging in there with me.
The most common question I keep getting asked is, “How was the move? How is it? What is it like?” The answers to these questions are not so straightforward. The short answer is, “it’s good, same same but different,” a phrase often heard when traveling abroad. The more truthful answer is…
We landed here on June 30th after six flights. Yes, SIX, with Trace who is 2.5 years old and Izzy who was 15.5 months old. Why six flights you ask? Because the military booked them for us. Period. Need I say more? Tad came home excited (clearly he hadn’t flown with the children before) that we were flying from Tallahassee to Orlando to Dulles to Norfolk. We’d spend the night in Norfolk to start our outbound rotator flight (military flight) from Norfolk to Spain to Italy and finally Bahrain. My grey hairs started sprouting immediately.
Our first flight out of Tallahassee proved to be the biggest test and an act of trust and constant prayer. The airlines the military booked us through, a smaller partner of United, was not ready or prepared to handle a military family moving abroad with our extra luggage, overweight, car seats, and stroller. While Trace was totally excited that it was a propeller airplane, like Dusty Crophopper!!!, I kept praying that our bags, strollers, and car seats with HANDWRITTEN baggage tags (yes, their printers happen to break the morning of our flight) would make it to Norfolk. I didn’t hold my breath and immediately knew we would be shopping for new stuff in Bahrain. To my delightful surprise everything made it to Norfolk. I can’t say the same from Norfolk to Bahrain but everything eventually caught up to us and for that 6 flights to Bahrain was a miracle.
The flights were not as bad as I had anticipated (no, I didn’t bootleg some Xanex), thanks to introducing Trace to the tablet and movies. Best move ever. Izzy had more stir crazy moments but I don’t blame her. She finally figured out that flying is boring for a 15 month old and slept. The hardest part was keeping them from going absolutely bonkers at the airport in Spain and Italy. That’s when I needed a drink and Xanex. Too bad for me. So all-in-all, the kids did great, waaaaay better than I expected for six flights and three days in airplanes and airports.
We landed in Bahrain at 0230 (that’s 2:30 am) three days after leaving Tallahassee. It was 99 degrees. It was a slap in the sweaty face of reality. Luckily, Tad’s sponsor (the guy he replaced) met us at the airport and took great care to make sure were shown the ropes for the first few days. He set us up to live at the Elite Resort and Spa until we could find our own house. No, there is no Base living here. Everyone lives out in town. We did find our place to call home relatively quickly but here we are on day 32 in the hotel due to logistics and paperwork. Patience is definitely the theme of my life right now. The hotel is a large international hotel (mostly Saudi’s on vacation, their nannies, and other US military personnel moving to or leaving Bahrain) with amazing customer service. Our room is a large two bedroom suite with a kitchen on the 14th floor overlooking the capital city of Manama and two bays.
Hotel living seemed daunting at first but now I think it was a great way to adjust. Everyone here is so nice and helpful. They love, LOVE, Trace and Izzy…a lot! Almost too much contact for my liking but it’s just the customs here. Trace and Izzy have handled it well though. Izzy typically gets this look of fear, finds me, and then runs to me saying, “Mama. Mama.” Trace sometimes lets people hold him. The creepy ones he runs. His judgement of character is on point. Thank goodness.
Tad started work…yes, the day we arrived. He truly is a juxtaposition of lazy and hard working. I can learn a lot. The Navy Base where Tad works is nothing exciting. Just a bunch of square buildings (with frigid AC…hallelujah!), lots of imported palm trees, and sand. Really describes the whole island. Trace insists on wearing his flip flops then immediately cries and complains of getting sand in his shoes. He’s a smart boy, except when it comes to his flip flops and sand. Bless his two and a half year old heart. I have felt very grounded by a steady yoga and meditation practice that somehow feels easier to find the time to do here than back in Virginia. My travel bug has been reborn and despite having two toddlers in-tow, I want to see, really see, smell, feel, hear, taste, this place. #Bahrainorbust
Trace and Izzy are adjusting as well as possible but it’s not easy being a toddler anywhere in the world, let alone during a big move like this. Yes, Izzy entered her toddler stage sometime between Tallahassee and Bahrain. Let’s really add some fuel to the fire, yippeee. She’s discovered her voice, opinions, and screams a.k.a death squeals. Why didn’t any of my mom friends with girls tell me of this horrible noise? The first five days were the most rough due to several factors, 1. everything–the sounds, smells, clothes, beds, food, brightness of the sun, dust, taste of water, weather, EVERYTHING–was new to the kids which was fun and exciting until it wasn’t, 2. Trace and Izzy had to learn to share a room for their first time while having troubles adapting to the time change (no big surprise), and 3. Ramadan was in full swing. Eventually total exhaustion won and the kids got on schedule but that was right around Eid, the last day of Ramadan. Ramadan is a holy month for the Islam religion. Not being Islam and arriving during their holidays with two toddlers in 100+ weather was quite a treat (insert loads of sarcasm). Out of respect, we did not eat or drink in public, show public displays of affection, or wear anything a typical westerner would in 100+ degree weather. 100+ degree outings with two toddlers who can’t have water is not a reality I wish on anyone. Trace made us pay for it. I don’t blame him. So for selfish reasons, Eid (the last day of Ramadan) was something I celebrated too.
I think changing routine is exactly what every psychologist and toddler book says not to do. But we did it. We had to. Overall, they did great and I don’t blame them a single bit for crying more, being more clingy, and a little more irritating. I feel the same towards them. Locals seem to love, maybe tolerate is a better term, Americans so nothing but good vibes so far. Almost everyone speaks English, or some version of it. People seem utterly surprised when I share that I’m from the United States. Maybe I should begin asking where they think I’m from. My hunch is they think I’m from the Philippines (refer to First 30 days in Bahrain blog).
Sorry there is a lack of photos so far. Honestly it just looks like an urban city with a lot of dust. Well, and the photos on Google are better. Just do a quick Google search.
A hui hou…until next time…
Aloha & Namaste