From Spain to Bahrain – Two Old Fools Stay Put

Nobody is allowed to talk about what is happening here in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The news channels and internet have fallen silent, and I, too, will say little. Joe and I only have 10 weeks to complete of our contract teaching in an International School in the city of Manama, and then we hop aboard that plane back to Spain and our crazy, beloved village in the Andalucían mountains. How we long for the fresh mountain breezes and tasting food without a dusting of sand…

Last month, the troubles here in Bahrain escalated to the point where the British Embassy advised us to evacuate. They even laid on a special flight for British expats, although the fare cost more than a regular flight… (And they wondered why it returned to Britain empty?) But we’ve never felt personally threatened here, in spite of distant gunfire, numerous checkpoints, tanks parked along the roads and constant helicopter activity above. So we stayed. Nearly all the American and Canadian teachers left, and the Lebanese male teachers were deported. We felt we should stay and help keep the school open because the school has been very good to us and we owed the owners that.Things are easier now; we are no longer under house arrest, and the curfew hours have been reduced. We choose not to travel much around the island, but we could if we wanted. The British Embassy has given us very little guidance, but our American friends pass on their (very good) Embassy advice so we know what to do at checkpoints:

“We no longer advise U.S. citizens to limit movements to areas around their residence, but we encourage everyone to follow the guidelines listed below, especially the maps below. We strongly encourage the use of the buddy system and not to travel alone.

Most checkpoints are manned by police and/or soldiers with lethal ammunition. The following guidance is provided for checkpoints:

1. Do not panic, be polite.
2. Always obey the lawful commands of officials manning checkpoints.
3. Do not attempt to run through the checkpoint.
4. Make sure your doors are locked and windows closed.
5. If necessary, roll your window down just far enough to talk.
6. State that you are an American. (substitute ‘British’)
7. If they insist on ID, present your CPR card. At no time should you relinquish control of the ID to those not in an official uniform.
8. If asked, “Where are you going?” state where.
9. For unofficial checkpoints – Never get out of your vehicle or open any of the doors!”

So we’re coping very well. Sometimes, however, it’s not politics that makes our lives difficult, but Mother Nature. A couple of weeks ago, a sandstorm whipped up during the night. Guess which silly old fools left all the windows open? We got out of bed and left footprints in the sand across the bedroom floor and all over the apartment. It took us 4 and a half hours to clean up…

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My recipe of the month

Baked Lamb and Aubergine (Eggplant)

Serves 4
• 1 large eggplant, peeled, thickly sliced
• 1 lb. ground lamb
• 2 medium onions, sliced
• olive oil
• 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
• 1/4 tsp. allspice
• salt and pepper to taste
• 5 cups cooked rice
• 1-2 cloves garlic, mashed in mortar with salt

Salt the eggplant slices, place in colander, and allow to drain for 30-60 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. Heat oil to high temperature.
In minimum oil, brown the lamb, add onions and spices, salt and pepper. Cook until well separated. Add garlic. Cook briefly.
In casserole dish, make layer of rice. Over rice make a layer of eggplant. Over eggplant make layer of meat. Repeat layers and end with layer of rice. Cover and bake for 45 min. Remove cover in the last 10 minutes. Serve with yogurt or a yogurt, garlic and salt mixture.
Hint: Add spices to taste, experiment! The reason for the salt, draining, etc of the eggplant is to keep them from absorbing so much oil. The longer they drain the better, even 4 hours.

Victoria is the author of 'Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools' (available at Amazon UK or Amazon USA) and 'Two Old Fools – Olé' (also available at Amazon UK or Amazon USA)

“a charming and funny expat tale” The Telegraph (UK)
“Weeks later you will be doing the dishes and recall some fleeting scene with chickens or mules or two old fools and laugh out loud all over again.” The Catalunya Chronicle

Contact Victoria by email on TopHen@VictoriaTwead.com or via her website at www.victoriatwead.com


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