Saturday, May 30, 2009
the farthest East I have been
We arrived in Bahrain earlier this week. We left Beirut Airport, flying with Bahrain Airlines, first over Jordan and then Saudi Arabia. If we have time when we get back to Lebanon, we might take a bus trip to Damascus, Syria. Or, if my relatives insist, as they have, it will have to be a car trip. We'll see how much we can fit in; I'm not to go to Byblos or Baalbek until my sister-in-law arrives in Lebanon. Wait, she said. As my husband and I flew across the skies over the desert, looking down out the plane window was like seeing through a veil of sand. Just a hint of the ever present sand/dust that hangs sometimes imperceptibly and other times quite visibly in the air. Sunglasses are a good idea for morning walks. It does not rain now here in Bahrain so the sand dust hangs around.
Once out of the air conditioning of Manama Airport, I knew I was going to need a few days to adjust to the heat. Oh, my. Sounds like a cliche, but it's oh so true: like walking into an oven. Oh, my. I think I said that to myself 20x before entering the refreshing air conditioning of my sister-in-law's Jeep. I hate air conditioning--but not here.
Of course, the heat is unbearable only for a northerner like me, whose genes for millenia have been programmed to survive the cold. Heat? What I have come to know as hot is the next person's day to put on their wool toque and sweater. I'm sure the legions of Indian workers that fill Manama find what I would call oppressive heat, quite lovely. Milder than India. Indeed, from out the window, I noticed an Indian man walking, wearing a warm scarf wrapped around his neck--in 40 plus temperature. Without a bead of sweat to give away any discomfort. All the women encased in black abayas and hijabs and at time niqab don't betray any discomfort with the heat, either. And the traffic and cars, which I find constant and congested, the Indian workers I'm sure would find a relief from what they left behind in India. So, it is all relative. My congestion, another person's ease. My difficult heat wave, another person's pleasant day. My dilemma of what to wear to stay cool, not a dilemma.
I spent the first 2 days inside, sitting on the couch, feeling slightly queasy, moving more slowly, and falling asleep like a stone way before my bed time, then waking up late in the morning, oversleeping, feeling groggy and bleary. Such is my northern embodiment.
Yesterday, however--thankfully--I perked up, came back to my "real self" and with my husband and his sister, went to the beach.