We arrived in Bahrain early morning around 3:30 a.m. I left the states and flew to Egypt for a day to collect some items I left there and then less than twenty four hours later I was on a plane to Bahrain. Autum and I met Peggy at the airport. Peggy is also going to Bahrain to teach high school math. In Egypt Peggy lived two villas away from me and now we are living together in Bahrain. The school was short on villa’s so offered a compensation to those who agreed to room with someone. Usually each single teacher would get there own two bedroom villa and families would get a three bedroom villa. Since Peggy and I are rooming with each other we get a three bedroom villa. After we checked all of our bags and made it safely through passport control in Egypt we headed to our flight. We got an exit row which was nice but then there was some confusion on why two little kids couldn’t sit on the other side in the exit row. I thought Autum was going to loose it as multiple flight attendants walked by and didn’t say anything about the kids in the exit row. Finally though a flight attendant addressed the situation and after the shifting of a few rows we were off. Like I said we arrived in Bahrain about 3:30 a.m. and the secondary principal and director were there to pick us up. As soon as we got off the plane there was a lady holding a sign with our names on it. We followed her and as we turned the corner we saw the lines for passport control. I knew there was an airport service helping us with our visas but I wasn’t prepared for the service we received. Instead of the lines we were directed to a nice quiet room where we were offered drinks and to relax. We gave them our luggage tags and then filled out a form and handed over our passports. A little while later the nice woman brought our passports back with a tourist visa inside and said to follow her because our bags were ready. All of our luggage was already to go and we walked out where we met the school administrators. We walked out of the airport and this was the first time we got to feel the humidity of Bahrain. Up until this point everyone told us oh it’s hot there, and humid. My thought is well I’ve lived in Egypt for two years and it’s hot there and I’m from the midwest so I’m familiar with humidity. Well, they were not kidding. Oh my god – it’s hot and humid. It’s so hot if you are wearing glasses or sunglasses they will fog up when you enter or leave outside. Although a lot of people who have been here have said that it’s hotter than usual. There is air conditioning everywhere but still, wow!
By this time the sun was starting to come up. We loaded our bags in the school van and started to head back to our villa. The administrators were going to drop us off at our villa and let us get settled. There was absolutely no traffic at this time so we got back to the villa in about thirty five/forty minutes. The roads were nicely paved, they have lines on the road, they obey stoplights and use traffic circles/roundabouts a lot. Palm trees line the highways in addition to a lot of sand. As we drove to our new house our director pointed out points of interests and we chatted about our summer, our surroundings and how we were feeling up to this point. Once we arrived to our community we entered through a manned gate and into the community filled with villas. Arriving at our villa in a tired state we quickly woke up once we walked inside. We took a look around and were amazed. There are three bedrooms, maid’s room, four bathrooms, kitchen, living room and dining room. The entire villa is furnished, two of the rooms were already made up for us. There were bathroom basics already in the bathrooms, towels, and basic food in the fridge and cabinets. Our administrators showed us the basics of how to turn on outlets, how to use the stove, how to use the a/c and where our key box was. Yes we have keys to all of the locks in our villa and even extras. Also at our villa was our relocation allowance in local currency. There was also a nice note from the two teachers who were responsible for getting us settled in addition to a map with villa numbers and phone numbers to contact them. Our official first day was the next day and the agenda was also left for us so we knew where to be and what time. At this point our administrators left and I was not one bit tired so I started unpacking and getting settled. Autum was in charge of the kitchen and then Peg and I put away stuff in our rooms. Autum made the trip with us so she could watch our friend’s Heather and Luke’s little girl while we were at new teacher orientation the first week. Not only was I impressed with the villa itself but also the little amenities that were there waiting for us once we arrived. After we were all unpacked it was around 7/8 in the morning so we all took a nap.
Later that morning the teachers that were our welcoming committee stopped by to see how we were doing. They also dropped off a golf cart that we could use to explore the community. I mean how cool is that a frickin’ golf cart to cruise around in. We took the golf cart and rode around a little, got a little lost and then headed to grocery store. There is a small shopping center just outside the gate of the community but still off of the highway so it’s accessible by golf cart. In the small shopping center there is a coffee shop, dessert shop, grocery store, flower shop and burger restaurant. We stopped to get some coffee at the coffee shop and then headed to the grocery store. The prices here are comparable to the states but some things are a little higher, so you just have to pay attention when shopping. Going to the grocery store for the first time in a new country is always exciting to see what is available and what is not.
After we looked around the grocery store a bit and picked up some food we noticed that some things were expensive and some were not. The selection was really good though. You have to remember that Bahrain is an island so everything is basically imported here. The two biggest surprises that we found were the pork room, yes a room filled with pork products and cold coffee creamer. Bahrain is a Muslim country that is why the pork is segregated to it’s own room. I almost fell on the floor when I saw the French Vanilla coffee creamer. I then looked at how much it costs and didn’t even care, I bought it anyway.
After we got more familiar with the area we found bigger supermarkets that were a little cheaper. This grocery store by our villa costs a little more but is close, has good produce and has french vanilla coffee creamer.
The next day we were due at the school at 9 a.m. By this time the rest of the teachers and our friends Heather and Luke along with Myla and Rusty all made it in last night. Once we got to school we went on a school tour, went over where to go for groceries, gave our passports to start the visa process, along with the process of obtaining our CPR card which is a Bahrain resident card. We also signed up for a water cooler for our villa that was delivered later that day. Our rental cars were also delivered to us. Yes, the rental car company came to the school where we signed paper work, paid and got our keys.
We all then caravanned to the shopping center to get household items, groceries, and SIM cards. Getting a new SIM card was quick and easy. The price wasn’t bad either, much cheaper than home. I paid about thirty dollars for a new SIM card, cell minutes and 5 GB of data. After that we all went home to rest, for some jet lag was starting to set in. The next few days were scheduled for us but in a very relaxed time frame. We had new teacher orientation to familiarize ourselves with the school, personnel, and our classrooms/office.
My office at school is pretty sweet, it’s right off of the gym and it’s just me in there. On the second day of orientation I went into the office and was given an envelope that had all of my keys all set for me to go. I even had a key to my own office. From my own personal experience this was a nice feeling.
Having a car has been an unbelievable feeling. Just the thought that if I want to go somewhere I can at my own free will is amazing. The day after we got our car we drove into the city at went to the big mall. The mall was huge, three stories with tons of stores. A bunch of high end stores too Pottery Barn, Versace, and a bunch of other fancy one’s that I did not go into to. Google Maps was our friend as we navigated the city. It took about a half an hour to get there and driving there was no big deal at all. Gas is super cheap here, I know go figure we are in the Middle East. Not only is it cheap but all of the stations are full service. I’ve never been to a full service station before but luckily Peggy is used to them (they have them in Oregon) so she told me what to do. To fill up our tank and with tip I believe we paid 6 BD (Bahraini dinar) which is about $16 USD.
The next week was filled with exploring the island, getting to know the new teachers and getting ready to meet the returning teachers once everyone has arrived. School starts Aug 31st so in the meantime I will be getting to know everyone and working on getting my classes together.