With my training in South Carolina over, I turned in all my gear, packed my bags and said good-bye to my new compadres. Then I hit the rack (I call it Operation My Racky Freedom). I actually went down at about 8:30, which was a miracle - I'm usually up until at least 11. I was beat like a drum after two really tough days of "culminating events" training.
Here's a quick rundown of my travels to B'rain:
Wed morning I had to catch a flight pretty early. My airport shuttle left at 0415! I made it to Norfolk at 0830 and called my cousin Becca. She came and picked me up and she, her husband Tony and I had a fun morning catching up. Then Becca dropped me off at the military airport. That was around 3pm. My flight was at 7:50pm...now it's been delayed until 10, then 11, and then it finally boarded and left sometime around Midnight-thirty. So that was awesome.
We stopped in Spain for two hours, Italy for two hours and finally made it to Bahrain at 3am on their Friday (translates to 5pm EST Thursday). The flights weren't too bad. I sat next to a normal sized guy that thought he was He-Man though. We spent most of the Atlantic Ocean fighting over the armrest. Then I finally told him we needed to come to a 'Gentleman's agreement' over whose elbow goes where. After that, we had two nice flights. I'm sure he was happy to see me leave as he headed on to Djibuti (where is that anyway? Just kidding, but not really).
I slept about 13 hours Friday, then ate dinner in my hotel Friday night. It was an awesome meal. I went to a lebonese restaurant in the lobby. I was going to take pictures, but I mean I'm only so much of a rube...anyways while I interacted with the host and server, I realized this is it- I'm really on deployment! We both misunderstood each other for about 5 minutes to start. What I did understand is that I sat down at a restaurant with a 20 Bahraini Dinar minimum...that meant nothing to me as he explained it three times. Then I pulled out my handy-dandy currency converter (thanks Ipod Touch) and realized 1 BD = 2.7 USD. Oh yeah! I was about to drop $53 bucks on dinner plus drinks. Later I explained this to Katie. She said I should think about eating Ramen, PB&J crackers and a big glass of milk. "It's got all the food groups, plus you can call it the 'AC College Fund Diet'. I promised I would, and as my cracker crumbs fall between the keys I feel the Lyme's Disease setting in. At least my baby will get the smarts!
The work week here is Sunday - Thursday. I think it's because of the 7-10 hour time difference to the States. Sunday I checked into my new job. My office looks like every Navy office, partitioned cubicles, coffee pot, etc. Everyone seems pretty nice and I think I'll fit right in.
The weather is pretty comfortable so far, although today was as hot as Hades. I take a shuttle to the base, but there's a pretty decent walk through base to get to my building. I like it, it gives me plenty of time to get some fresh air and sunshine - something I don't get a ton of while on ships.
Bahrain is an island in Arabian Gulf (which is the same as the Persian Gulf, it just depends which side of it you are standing on - Iran or anywhere else). Everyone here is mostly arabic. However, lots of the employees (masons, restaurant employees, etc) are from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The country is East of Saudi Arabia. Qatar is a bigger island just South of Bahrain. There are lots of English speakers here, some better than others. Most are very friendly (especially the salesmen) and offer me tea to come in their store and shop. They sell lots of trinkety stuff (my favorite!!), rugs galore, throw pillows, awesome sheets and towels, hand made blankets and stuff like that. The furniture is so beautiful and I'd love to get some but I'm not sure I can justify the shipping. There are tons of options when looking for a place to eat. There's a TGI Friday's between "home" and work. They even have Krispy Kreme! But I bet by the time they are flown over here they are not as hot and fresh as they are stateside. There's an entire street (I haven't been there) that has all American restaurants, in case I get home sick. That's where all the Sailors go when a ship pulls in, understandably. My hotel has 7 restaurants in it. Mexican, Italian, Lebonese, Iranian, and more. I have only eaten at the lebonese place.
Okay that should catch me up for right now. I will get some more pics uploaded for your viewing pleasure.