Now that deployment is over, I can share some of the details I was holding back. I actually flew halfway around the world in late July to spend a week with Parker, and I want to share that experience before the details become hazy! By halfway around the world, I mean Bahrain. Never heard of Bahrain? I hadn't either! If you look on a map, it is right next to Saudi Arabia.
A few fun facts about Bahrain...
1. It's hot. Really hot. The temps were usually about 110 degrees with a heat index of 140. I've never experienced heat like that in my life! It didn't help that I came in the heat of the summer. Their winters are usually in the 80s.
2. The primary religion is Islam. You will see some people dressed head to toe in long robes/tunics and others dressed like us.
3. If you are female, you will get stared at. Despite the scorching temps, I kept my legs covered the entire time with maxi dresses or jeans. I might as well have been in shorts, because if you are an American woman, you are going to get some stares.
4. The local currency is the Bahrain Dinar, or BD. The conversion rate is 1 BD = $2.65. So, things are a little more expensive over there.
I was 10 weeks pregnant when I made the trip, so while I wasn't feeling too hot, I happily sucked it up for the chance to see my husband. The flight was long and pretty brutal being sick, but the minute I saw Parker, it was all worth it!
I stayed with him in his hotel, and we had the best 6 days together! Here's what our trip looked like, according to our phones...
My trip over there was a great mix of relaxation and exploration. We explored the Souq, which is a huge market in an old part of the city where people try to peddle their wears. If you want to buy a suit or jewelry, it's a great place to go. Fun fact: Google Maps does not know how to navigate the Souq. I got us quite lost that night.
Parker had to work for a few hours during each day, so I stayed back at the hotel and slept. I was 10 weeks pregnant, so the extra sleep was welcome! The downside to me sleeping several hours during the day was that I never fully adjusted to the time difference (they are 8 hours ahead of the east coast), so I would stay awake at night and sleep during the day. The only positive was adjusting back to Virginia time was a breeze. Parker usually came home from work and found me like this:
Thanks to all the rest I got during the day, I was ready to go for our afternoon and evening activities. Almost every day, our afternoon consisted of laying by the pool. What better way to beat the Bahrain heat? This was a highlight for us every day... we loved our time by the pool!
One of my favorite evenings was visiting Shawarma Alley. Shawarma is kind of like a middle eastern gyro. They have meat, some sort of lettuce or cabbage, and a white sauce that is almost a little sour all inside a pita. I probably prefer the traditional gyro, but the Shawarma was good and such a cool experience! It was one of the cheapest meals we had, though you do have to pay for water over there. There was also a sink randomly in the dining room.
While walking down Shawarma Alley, we found a movie store that was selling movies for 1 BD (Bahrain Dinar, the local currency). They are most definitely illegally made, but we purchased Me Before You, which was still in some theaters back in America at the time. We watched it back at the hotel and really liked it!
Another favorite night was date night... aka Chilis and a movie! We saw Bourne on base and loved it! Chilis is one of our favorite restaurants, but it doesn't taste quite the same in Bahrain. We didn't love it as much. Actually, I had trouble eating it while still in the first trimester and actually haven't wanted it since. Still a great night though! Chilis and a movie made us feel like we were back home together.
I wanted to cook for Parker one night since I had really missed doing so, but we didn't have much to work with in the way of ingredients or utensils, so taco night it was! It was fun just to eat dinner in and feel like a normal married couple. We bought the ingredients at the grocery store on base. I also bought some sausages that we intended to cook but ran out of time, so he put them in the freezer to be eaten later. When he left Bahrain in November, the sausages were still in the freezer. ;)
On the nights we ate in, we hit the pool after. It was such a relaxing place to talk and just hang out, and we were usually the only ones there. It felt like our own little private resort!
My six days in Bahrain came and went all too quickly, but we are both so thankful we got the opportunity to spend that time together. It helped break up the deployment and make it more bearable, and we got to create memories in the hotel where Parker stayed the majority of the deployment. He said knowing I had been there ended up being his favorite part of Bahrain and made him enjoy where he lived. We had planned for me to come out there again in October, but we both decided I was a little too pregnant for the trip and it was best for me to stay back. Since we cancelled the October trip, I am soooo grateful we took the opportunity in July to see each other. That time together was so special!