I've been to one of the world's smallest and certainly obscure countries, Bahrain. A tiny island in the Persian Gulf, Bahrain is one of the first places in the Middle East where oil was discovered, ushering in a new era for our planet. I went there in 2006 to visit a friend I had made during my first trip to Egypt. Other than that, I would probably have no idea where it is or that it's even a country. It came up on New Year's day, my trip to Bahrain. These last few days I have been thinking about Bahrain quite a lot.
I thought of Bahrain on New Year's because I got caught in a snow pellet blizzard while riding my bike to the lightrail station with my friend Lesley. It was a baptism of sorts since it was the first time I've been subjected to such harsh weather conditions in years. We eventually made it to Golden, got in the car and b-lined it for the Indian Hot Springs. We sat in those hot caves until we literally could not stand it anymore. The water, the steam, the heat, it was a real treat on a shit winter day. We knew it would be an injustice to not stay as long as physically possible since it was so blessedly hot in those pools and so freakin' cold outside. We had to stay until it was dangerous to our health.
As we soaked in the hot mineral waters, I told Lesley a story about Bahrain that was the opposite of what we were doing. I was in Bahrain in August, one of the hottest months of the year in one of the hottest locations on the planet. The daytime temperatures hovered around 125°F and lowered to around 100°F at night. Being an island in a shallow body of water, the humidity averaged 95%. It was oppressively brutal. I could walk around outside for about ten or fifteen minutes before having to dip into a store or restaurant for a few minutes so that I was not overcome with heatstroke.
I found myself terribly bored during my time in Bahrain and had to find anything to do to pass the long, hot desert days. I followed the Arab schedule of sleeping during the day and staying up very late at night. My little hotel was on the edge of the main souq of Manama, the capital of this wee country. In order to beat the heat, I would walk through the souq at about 2am when almost everything was closed, and make my way to the Dairy Queen on the other side of the sprawling market. Open 24 hours a day, this was my sanctuary.
Dairy Queen was air conditioned to about 60°F and it felt like the arctic in there compared to the thick heat of the outdoors. I would order a big Oreo blizzard and sit there and eat it. Then I remained in the Dairy Queen, belly full of cold ice cream, until my teeth started to chatter and I could no longer take the overly air conditioned confines. That's when it felt really good to go outside where it was 100°F. I had to do anything to make the Gulf heat seem desirable and my late night trips to Dairy Queen were the ticket. It worked, for about thirty minutes, but any reprieve was welcome in that extreme heat.
Dreaming of the desert on another cold and snowy Denver day.