After 30 hours of travel, I made it to Bahrain for an extended visit with my husband.
For those of you who don’t know, Bahrain is an itty bitty island in the Persian Gulf, just East of Saudi Arabia (there is a bridge that connects the two countries), North West of Qatar, and across the gulf from Iran.
The night before I was scheduled to fly out, I made an effort to stay up all night (except for a quick two hour nap between 2:30 am and 4:30 am). I wanted to make sure I was EXHAUSTED when I finally arrived so adjusting to the 11 hour time difference wouldn’t be as difficult.
My first flight from San Diego to Washington DC went quickly- I slept through the whole flight. The longest part of the journey was the 7 hour layover in Dulles airport. It was supposed to be 6 hours, but my flight from San Diego to DC landed early. Until then, I had never been disappointed to land ahead of schedule. The second leg of my journey was an 11.5 hour flight from DC to Kuwait. Once again, I slept through most of the flight, waking up with only an hour and a half until touch down. Thank GOODNESS because who wants to sit on an airplane for almost twelve hours?
When we landed in Kuwait, while the flight number remained the same, we all had to deplane and wait in the airport for about 45 minutes. The culture shock officially begun when I stepped off of the plane. I was painfully aware of the fact that I am a woman, and was not accompanied by a man. The gate was a room of wall to wall windows and at the entrance was airport security and metal detectors. At the Kuwait airport (and the Bahrain airport, for that matter), you are required to go through security at each gate.
Eventually, we boarded the plane and endured the very short flight to Bahrain. When I landed in Bahrain and we deplaned, I headed towards customs, with a quick pitstop at the exchange station. At the customs window, I handed the agent my passport and information card.
“Where are you coming from?” “San Diego, California.” “Why have you come to Bahrain?” “My husband is in the US Navy and is stationed here. I’m here to visit him.” “Is this your first time to Bahrain?” “Yes sir.” “We are going to have to double check your passport. Please go have a seat over there.”
I headed over to a grouping of chairs filled with questionable looking people. Apparently I also look questionable. One by one, my fellow delinquents were pulled into rooms behind closed doors and never seen again (I’m sure they were seen again, in fact I know they were as I saw one of them at LuLu’s- the Walmart of Bahrain- a few days later). After a few minutes, the customs agent pulled me back to his window, I paid my 5BD, and moved on.
Next came baggage claim. Now, people in the United States complain constantly about having to wait for their bags at baggage claim, and then not having their bags arrive at all. Well, I will forever appreciate the speed of baggage handlers in the USA after the handlers here in Bahrain were far less than expeditious. Every ten minutes or so a sprinkling of five to six bags would make their way around the conveyor belt. My two bags were, of course, two of the last few bags to make it onto the carousel since they had been put on the plane in Washington, DC, not in Kuwait like the majority of the passengers’ luggage.
After gathering my luggage, I headed through the “nothing to declare” line, and finally made my way out to the rest of the airport.
It took a total of two hours to deplane, exchange currency, go through customs, and get my luggage, but I was finally blessed with seeing my husband. While we couldn’t hug, kiss, or hold hands until we were in the privacy of the car, just seeing him was magical enough!