Yep -- me, too!
(If you said no to that question, you are in denial.)
I had a passport challenge recently. My current visa for Bahrain is only a tourist visa and good for 2 weeks. I have to renew it frequently. I was going to be leaving for Saudi Arabia (that is another blog) and thought I had enough time that I would not need to renew it before I left.
However my visa was one day short and did not realize it until the day before it expired. I called up the “Mr. Fix It” for D’s company and arranged to meet him at the Bahrain office to sign the documents and give him my visa so he could get an extention.
Unfortunately, I did not take into account it was morning, the busiest time of the day for traffic in that area of Manama. I could not find a parking place anywhere so he had to come down to the street and meet me. I parked in a taxi lane hoping to not get kicked out.
|Sharing the street with vendors with carts.|
|The Taxi Stand in the shadow of the Rolex dealer.|
Other than feeling a bit boxed in, it all went fine and my passport made it’s way to being renewed.
My next commitment for the day was to drive to a printer and help with a book being published by the American Woman’s Association. The person I was meeting had given me directions coming from the opposite way and it was clear to me that the road I was on in Manama lead directly to the printer.
It would be much shorter if I just went down the road I was already on.
|Road leading to the printer.|
Black flags of the political opposition were flying all around on the buildings and beside the streets. There was Arab graffiti on all the buildings.
I did not stop to take pictures.
I did not stop to look around.
I did not even turn my head and look at any of the people on the sidewalks who were clearly looking at me.
I drove as steady and fast as I could out of the area.
The blonde lady from the US knew she was in the wrong place.
This was history repeating itself.
Once, over 30 years ago, D and I were driving through Los Angeles. He asked me to give him driving directions to get to the downtown area as directly as I could. He wanted to see the tall buildings. Looking at buildings is often part of any vacation we take.
This was before MapQuest or Google Maps. I had a paper map and I buried my head in the map giving him directions – two blocks then turn right, one block then turn on this street, so on.
D stopped at a stop light and asked me (my head was buried in the map), “Brenda, look on your map. Is there an area called Watts located close to where we are?”
I carefully studied the map and answered, “Yes, 2 blocks to our right.” I looked up to see burned out cars and buildings that looked like they had been blown up in a war.
For those of you are too young to know, there was a huge riot in LA in the area called Watts. We were in the very heart of Watts.
We carefully locked our car doors and drove off as quickly as we could. Two young kids in a new car with Kansas plates was a tempting target and we were getting lots of stares from people on the sidewalk.
I had that same tight feeling in my gut as I drove through Manama on my way to the printer. I tried to think of what a great story it was going to be, but all I could think about was all the grief my son was going to give me when he found out about this adventure.
I survived again and I will have more adventures. But, I have definitely seen the “not so safe” side of Manama.
Sorry there are not many pictures for this blog. I am sure you understand. ☺