Monday, March 23, 2009

Bahrain - Saturday, March 21st

As we left Saudi Arabia, we drove across the causeway towards the island of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf.  Actually, in Arabia they call it the Arabian Gulf.  The rest of the world calls it the Persian Gulf.  There is a causeway connecting Bahrain to Saudi Arabia, and it takes about an hour to get across.  Of course, sometimes, depending on the traffic, the day of the week, the time of day, or possibly even the time of year, it may take as much as 4 to 5 hours to get across.  On this particular day, it was an absolute breeze going across.  We did not have our bags searched, and it was no problem stopping at immigration and customs to get our exit visa for Arabia and our entry visa for Bahrain.  Our flight left at 8:40pm and since we arrived early in Bahrain, Sheik our driver, took us downtown to a great shopping area where we had 50 minutes to explore and take pictures before meeting up with him again.  In April 1991 our family spent 3 weeks in Bahrain where we housesat for a family in our Stake.  Those were my last memories of Bahrain.  We heard that Michael Jackson used to have a home there.  As we entered the island of Bahrain, we could immediately sense the difference between there and Saudi Arabia.  In Bahrain women are allowed to drive.  There is much more freedom of dress, and we went into a photo shop and the woman working there was wearing jeans.  Okay, so you can tell we've been out of reality for a while when we end up looking at each other and saying, "Wow, you better get a picture of that!  That woman is wearing jeans in public!"  (Maybe it's time to come home soon!!)  Not all Arab countries are the same.  We found a wonderful shop that was actually a store/museum for the Bahrain tourists.  We had no money, and so we took pictures and when I publish them on here, we decided to label it: All the things we DIDN'T buy!
However, I did buy 2 postcards.  One is a photo of a man weaving the Bedouin baby cradles out of palm fronds.  I have one of those cradles at home so I thought it was a cool picture to see it being made.  But my other post card was a total surprise!  It is a photo of an old Arab man, squatting on the ground and weaving fish nets.  But the reason I bought it is because I have that very same photo that I personally took years ago, and it is the same man!!  When I saw that postcard, I said, "Oh my gosh, I took this picture!  This is the same man that I photographed years ago!"  His face with the wrinkles, the expression, and the nose is a classic!  His face is one of a kind.  We had so much fun exploring this shop.  I took lots of photos.  Then we left and hurried across the street where we found the souks.  Lucy and I agreed that we would rather shop at the Souks (Arab markets) any day rather than a mall.  I was hurrying thru a narrow alley when I spied an old Arab man sitting on stool selling socks.  That is all he was selling, just a few baskets full of socks.  I took one photo without him knowing, then approached him and asked his permission to take a picture.  He smiled a toothless smile and agreed.  All the men following behind me stopped while I snapped this photo of a sock salesman.  These shops also had colorful fabrics with shiny beads and sequins adorning their windows.  One shop displayed belly dancing outfits, and I took pictures of a black and silver one and a hot pink one.  You can tell we are not in Saudi Arabia anymore!!  As I said, we only had 50 minutes to run around Bahrain, but we laughed as we got back into the van with Sheik when we thought of all the touring and sight-seeing we had done in that short amount of time.  Sheik told us that Bahrain was becoming the next Dubai.  Bahrain had skyscrapers and fabulous architecture.  We drove to the airport where we knew for sure we were not in Saudi Arabia anymore.  Women were working at the counters (you would never see that in Arabia) and the lines were not long, and going thru customs was a breeze.  What a complete difference from the Dammam airport!!  Plus everything was so clean and everyone was so friendly.  As we were going thru passport control, there was a man behind me in line that reminded me of Sam.  He was what Sam would look like if he was an Arab wearing a turban.  Lucy thought he might be Omani as he was on his way to Oman.  The airport in Bahrain had lots of shops, and standing next to one shop was a mannequin of an Arab man wearing a thobe and a gutra.  I happened to be wearing my abaya (I wore it across the causeway) and so I stood beside this mannequin and posed while Lucy took my picture.  An Arab man wearing a thobe walked by and laughed when he saw me.  Later in the airport we saw a shop that sold abayas and had several women mannequins wearing abayas embroidered with brightly colored threads and some of them had rhinestones.  I made the mistake of asking the lady working there if I could take a picture, and she said that wasn't allowed.   We were wanting a photo of me standing next to these mannequins, posing with them.  Lucy and I had a short layover in Bahrain, and so we sat in some seats near some Arab women.  Looking over at one, I noticed she had incredible henna work done on her hands.  I walked over to her, sat down and asked her if she spoke English.  She spoke a little bit.  I asked if I could see her hands, and she proudly showed me her hands decorated with henna, a brownish-orange dye with which Arab women paint designs on their hands.  This was the most intricate designs of henna I have ever seen.  And of course, I took pictures of both sides of both hands.  Later her daughters came over and sat down.   We took pictures of all of them.  As we prepared to board our flight, they searched our luggage and found my large bottles of shampoo and conditioner in my carry-on.  I had completely forgotten about the 3 ounce rule.  The lady looked at it as I explained that I had forgotten that rule, and she put them back in my luggage and waved me on through.  I doubt that would happen in the States.  I wasn't even concerned about that.  I was more concerned about that kilo bag of zatar I had in my purse.  I hoped they didn't think it was something illegal.  She never searched my purse.  We boarded a flight that had originated from London and was going to Doha.  The flight was probably the shortest flight I have ever been on in my life, but it was also the bumpiest, most turbulent plane ride I've ever had.  It was so bad that an Arab woman behind me screamed periodically throughout the flight while her husband tried to comfort her and quiet her.  When we landed and exited, I told the captain, "Thank you for that wild ride!", and he admitted that he was scared himself.   I wasn't worried about crashing, but I did think that crashing in the Persian Gulf after spending 2 weeks in Arabia would be quite the grand exit from this life to the next.  And so we landed in Doha, the capital of Qatar (pronounced "cuttar" by the Arabs).


  1. That is crazy about your picture on the postcard. Maybe some Arab copied it when they developed your pictures years ago!?! LOL Maybe you have been gone too long if you think ladies wearing jeans is a weird thing. Now you know why I freaked out seeing a woman wearing a mini-skirt years ago!

  2. Hey! This is Sierra, Carols daughter. I just wanted to let you know that this blog is awesome! You are such an incredible writer. I also was wondering if I could get your e-mail, I had a question for you. If you could, please e-mail me at Thanks! :) ((p.s. keep it on the D.L))