Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Busy (9/10 update) 

So much for the idea of blogging my experiences here... I've been busy with work and I just got busier. I was reassigned to a job where everything is high-vis and high-priority. It's basically a 12 hour a day, 7 day a week job, and for me it will even entail a couple of days at sea elsewhere in the region for a conference. So it looks like my opportunities to experience life outside of the base and the hotel will be extremely limited. If I get some time I'll do some roaming, but it looks unlikely at this point. Oh well... Maybe next time.

UPDATE: So maybe it's a 5-and-a-half day a week job. I've got a full day off coming, and assuming my cold is sufficiently subdued, I've got some religious and cultural stops on the agenda. Possibly an archaeological site or two.

That latter category fascinates me. It always has, but here perhaps more than in other places. You look at ancient Egypt, and they had the Nile and the abundance it brought. The Fertile Crescent, same deal. In the Americas, the original inhabitants found lands of plenty.

So it amazes me that thousands of years ago, some wandering tribe found itself on this limestone and saline island, at which point they pondered staying. As they weighed the pros and cons, they surely had no problem listing the negatives: Awful soil, a miniscule amount of precipitation, a paucity of plant and animal life for subsistence, and oppressive summer heat and humidity. The positives mainly consist of freshwater springs and offshore fishing. That, apparently, was enough. (Now that I think about, in this part of the world, the water alone is reason enough to stay put.)

In any case, this island offers ancient burial mounds and excavated ruins from ancient times, a few semi-ruins from the early Islamic period, and several forts of relatively recent construction. Along with those things, there are traditionally built homes to show how people lived before the invasion of the modern world, and the Bahrain National Museum, which has excellent exhibits. There is also the Beit Al Qu'ran, or House of the Qu'ran, which showcases, obviously, the Qu'ran. At the museum, I have seen some jaw-dropping decorative artwork on copies of the Qu'ran, but unfortunately, photos are not allowed, and the same holds true at the Beit Al Qu'ran. But everywhere else, photography is okay. If I decide that I don't mind a good soaking sweat, I'll walk around the fascinating and uniquely Arab souq. The batteries are charged and the memory card in my digicam is empty, so expect photos.
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