Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dinner at Casa Mexicana

The best Mexican food in the Gulf, if you ask me. [I cannot find a website for the restaurant. I found this YouTube Video of "On2elko2" driving by it, though. At 1:23, Casa Mexicana is on the right side. Obviously a morning drive for On2elko2 because there is no traffic. A Friday morning, quite likely.]

Our drive over to Bahrain was not uneventful. Relatively quick, though. A good thing. The Causeway can be a nightmare at times with traffic backed up and a total fuster-cluck of men - all men - vying to be first in every single line. Not a disappointment there, yesterday. We were about five or six cars back in one of the lines to go through the first stop at customs. [The first stop is to get a piece of paper that has the vehicle's license plate number on it and the vehicle's owner listed. What purpose this serves is beyond me. Prevents stolen cars from being taken out of Saudi Arabia? This procedure is relatively quick and doesn't get backed up too badly unless of course you have a vehicle which requires a "letter." A "letter" that says you do not own the vehicle but you have permission to drive it, or a "letter" that says you do not outright own the vehicle but are making payments on it and that you have no outstanding violations with the police department or something like that. If you are making payments on a vehicle, here, you have to go to the police department every three or every six months to get a letter that says that your driving record is clear. Whether this is just for ex-pats or for everyone, I don't know. We own our vehicle so we don't need the "letter."]

DH gets into one of the lines to get the piece of paper we need - the first stop. At times I feel sorry for the guys that man the booths that do this job. Eight hours a day they sit at a computer and enter the license plate number of EVERY SINGLE vehicle that leaves Saudi Arabia to go to Bahrain. There were a half dozen of those booths open when we were there yesterday at about 3:30 in the afternoon. And, like I said, there were only five or six vehicles in front of us. After the first booth, or checkpoint, is when things begin to get "sticky."

The vehicles pass through the first set of booths and then proceed set of booths where you need to produce the piece of paper you have just received along with your passports. If you are lucky you are in a line of vehicles with relatively few occupants. If you are unlucky you get in the line of vehicles that has ten occupants each. Each passport has to be entered into the system, so if you are in a line that has "family cars" you are going to be waiting for each and every passport to be checked and entered into the computer system. Customs. Necessary. Surely there must be a better way, though? There were just a couple more booths open for passports to be checked. Probably seven of these booths were open - maybe even eight. And we got through relatively quickly. The men working the passport check points are not the most efficient in the world. Oh, they could be. But it would mean that they not be allowed to chat and text on their mobiles. You know. Pay attention to the task at hand instead of paying attention to that dayum mobile that is a part of your physical being. What?! Actually be responsible for doing a job - and only doing a job - without using a mobile? Unheard of. We all know that.

What gets sticky about this procedure is that after you pass through this second checkpoint where you've provided the paper that shows your license number and the owner of the vehicle, and then handed over your passports to be stamped, all of the booth lines have to merge into a three-car lane. A fuster-cluck. Always. With every single "local" man inching and wedging his way to the very front of the queue with no regard to other vehicles who have been sitting waiting. This is not the odd occurrence, instead it is the norm. I'm going to say it. Most - yes, MOST, but not all - Saudi men demonstrate for the rest of us to see that they have no manners and are virtually uneducated with regard to decorum and protocol when it comes to the most simple rules of etiquette of a line or queue [Saudi women can be just as bad - but that is a totally different topic - and since Saudi women are not allowed to drive...].

How is it that when Saudi's leave their country and go to other countries they all of the sudden figure out the "line" or "queue" thing, but in their own country they have no concept of it? In other countries they are able to demonstrate some regard to a method of waiting one's turn. Here? Not a chance of that happening. They are just plain rude and disrespectful this way. And not just to ex-pats, but to each other. There is quite the chip of "entitlement" on Saudi's shoulders, this way. Just what makes them think that they deserve to be first in line and that they shouldn't have to wait in line just like everyone else?!! [Truly I have to sit on my hands during this part of our trip or I would be flipping men off left and right. DH has a fit when I do it.]

So yesterday as we are all in this "merge" pattern two interesting things happened. First of all, a man with a driver - the man was Asian - was on the outside of the "mess." No one was letting him in. [We were already smack in the middle of the mess so there was no option for us to allow him to merge in. His only chance of getting into one of the three lanes was via the outside rows of cars.] Got to give him credit for some ingenuity, though. He jumped out of his car and stopped traffic with his physical self. Brave man, that Asian. He blocked traffic so that his driver could merge into one of the three lanes. The whole while he was holding up his hands like a school crossing guard would, and waving and smiling and thanking the male drivers who were slowing up for him [read: not driving over him!]. Good for you, pal. It was obviously the ONLY way someone was going to let you in since your driver wasn't experienced enough at this game of "chicken" to get into one of the lanes on his own. It was amusing.

More amusing was this, though. On the outside right lanes - where several lanes were merging into one - was a black Prado, a white car, a white SUV and whatever else - to the very far right were cement barriers. A black Yukon raced past everyone - because HE had to be first before everyone else that was already waiting in line - that is just the way it is, here - and he was stopped by the cement barriers. [What tipped you off, phukktard? Yes. I realize that the landscape here is cement colored, but didn't you see the big, wide, diagonal RED stripes from back where you started?!] Apparently not. The fact that there were big cement barriers didn't stop him from racing by everyone on his left hand-side to pull into the far right lane. Nope. So what did he do when he got to the cement barriers? Turned left, as sharp as possible, and hit the black Prado. Hah! Stupid, stupid... A totally preventable "fender bender" but for the fact that Saudi men refuse to queue in line at customs. The man driving the Prado? A Brit [judging by his accent - and I rolled the window down to listen to the colorful exchange!]. He jumped out of his truck and just lit into the guy. I was clapping. Finally. Someone telling one of these jerks off like they need to be told off.

The whold scene of course held up traffic even more. But the Saudi man was getting quite the dressing down. Oops. Brittish man gets back in his Prado and inches through the three-lane merge to go through the final customs check point [on the Saudi side] where vehicles are physically inspected. Car doors and trunks are opened - truck tailgates, etc. Again relatively quick, depending on the mood of the Customs' agents, depending on the time of day, the alignment of the moon... Saudi man in his black Yukon gets through. Brittish man is waiting for him. Oh yeah, he is. Brittish man is pulled over and out of his Prado. There is no way Saudi man is going to get the opportunity to drive off. [Clearly from the number of dents on Saudi man's Yukon, this is NOT the first fender-bender he has been involved in.] I don't know what happened after the final confrontation. We were there long enough to witness Brittish man using the strong-finger-point at the damage done to his Prado [which, at that point we couldn't see - we were on the left side of his car as we went through the final Saudi customs stop], the strong-finger-point to the damage done to the Yukon - which we could see - and the strong-finger-point straight at the chest of the Saudi man. The look on the Brittish man's face was NOT one which you might have if you were having a pleasant conversation with a minor acquaintence. Oh, no it wasn't.

We drove off. Headed to one of our favorite watering holes. Well, DH's favorite watering holes. I prefer Trader Vics. DH likes Sherlock Holmes. We have some time to kill before going to dinner. [Restaurants, at the very earliest, open at six. Most do not open until seven. Only Americans eat before nine o'clock, here.] Sherlock Holmes is pretty quiet. There are some fifteen people - or so - in the bar. A table of ex-page business men in the back - five or six of them - with either Brittish or Australian accents discussing whatever it was they were discussing. A table of three - two women and one man - sitting not far from the table DH and I sat down at. And the rest of the men - all men - sitting at the bar. Several of the men had their thobes on. A group of two "local" men with two ex-pat men were at one end. There was a young man - very European looking sitting by himself reading a book - obviously an ex-pat with his summer shirt and sandals on [it is cold here! it is December, after all]. Then further down - closer to us a "local" man with his thobe sitting with another man - who, although probably not a "local" was obviously Arab. And sitting down further - almost directly in front of our table another man by himself, Arab, but dressed in "western" attire.

DH and I ordered a drink and watched the man in the thobe kiss his friend goodbye. The traditional "untouch cheek peck" done three times. Arab man who was with the man in the thobe walked off. The man in the thobe ordered another beer. A few minutes later, DH said to me, "Is he sleeping?" Nah. [I had the better view.] Just has his head down. Kind of that "nodding off thing." Every few seconds he would perk right up and take a slug from his beer. I don't know how much time transpired, perhaps a half hour or so, and DH said, "I'm pretty sure he's sleeping." Nope. He's not sleeping. He is passed out cold. His head completely slumped over into his chest. All the while the man was holding his beer in his lap. A minute later he shook his head and his agal fell to the floor. Everyone else heard it - the slapping of hard rope on a wood floor. The man didn't even flinch. It was a young waitress who walked by him and picked his agal up off the floor for him. She simply set it on the bar in front of him. Several minutes later one of the bartenders came out from behind the bar and gently woke the man up. We could not hear what was being said. The bartender was quiet and discrete with his actions. The man in the thobe? Sets his half-full glass on the bar, picks up his agal, proceeds to completely rearrange his head-dress and finishes his beer. I don't know what happened to him after that. We left.

That he had had enough to drink that he simply passed out in his bar stool... Yeah. Tell us again how it is that you don't drink. I'm sure someone will comment that "everyone makes mistakes," "no one is perfect," "we all sin." Something like that. I don't want to hear it. I am sick and tired of being told by the media, here, just how perfectly pious everyone is and seeing something else. I bet thobe-man's mother would have been proud of his bar behavior. As would his "brothers." It is, after all, the predominant religion that is practiced on this side of the world that forbids the consumption of alcohol. For such a prohibition, I find it quite odd that so many choose to imbibe. I don't care that you do. That is your choice. I choose too, as well. And that is why we go to Bahrain. But at least I'm honest about it. Unlike those here that say, "we go to Bahrain to shop." Sure. Maybe sometimes. Families. But all those men we see on the Causeway crossing the border to go to Bahrain? Nah. You cannot tell me that they are going shopping. We all know better. You go to Bahrain to drink. There is no other reason to go to Bahrain. We see you pulling up the the liquor store, where you are not allowed to enter, paying off men to go inside and purchase your spirits for you. We see you sitting at Trader Vic's - where the parking lot is full - and has only two or three Bahraini license plates - the rest are all from Saudi Arabia. Like I said. I really don't care. Just admit it, though. Don't try to play the holier than thou game. It just doesn't fly...

DH and I left to go to dinner. It was tasty! Delicious. Chips and salsa... A margarita. A pork enchilada. Yum. We left to head back to Saudi.

Coming home was nothing short of a bad dream. I have no idea what is going on here, but there were buses and buses and buses lined up to cross. I counted thirty-two as we drove by. Cannot imagine having to wait in that line. Oh my gosh. Nightmare for them. The roadway was a sea - and I do mean a sea - of black. One booth open for the bus line, maybe two. Three booths open for the rest of us. It was relatively early. Say, nine o'clock or so. Cars were lined up at the three booths that were open for "regular" vehicles. As is typical, the Saudi's cannot wait their turn. Just impossible for them for whatever reason. I have nothing good to say about those that carry that "block" of entitlement on their shoulder. Doesn't matter who they are. Wait in line like the rest of us. Assholes. So this Toyota Camry comes out of nowhere - we are not five or six vehicles from getting through the check-point - and pulls up to us within a few inches of our truck. The back window of the Camry goes down and a woman hold out her hand - pointing to be let in line in front of us. DH is usually pretty accommodating. He just goes with it. Me? Nope. I say, "Don't let him in. Don't do it, DH." He does anyway. DH has a whole lot more patience with this than I do. A whole lot!. However, he too had had enough at that point and said, "I wish we still have the Land Rover. I'd push that 'mf' out of the way." Whoa! What?! DH doesn't talk like that. I talk like that. [It is real lady-like, right?] And, DH just doesn't react like that, either. Anyway, DH says to the woman - who I called a bad name in my previous post - "No. Get back in line like the rest of us." The son, sitting in the front seat rolls down his window and motions that he wants to cut in front of us. DH again says, "No. Wait your turn 'ah.'" Oooh, boy. DH is pissed. So what does over-weight man driving the Camry do? Squeals his tires to drive approximately fifty or sixty feet [however long a line of five or six cars is] and puts his car directly behind the car that is at the booth! [Note to driver's on the Causeway: If you don't want people cutting you off you HAVE to RIDE DIRECTLY ON THE BUMPER of the car in front of you. If you leave the space of an inch or more, that is an invitation to let someone cut in line.]

Okay. So, now I've called the woman in the backseat a bad name. I said it out of frustration and anger. Does that make me hypocritical. Sure. In a way, it does. Practicing the same behavior I condemned a few posts ago. As "fred_says" and "Salem" have pointed out. And I will say that I regret the name I called the woman and I should not have said that she was ugly. What she looked like does not really matter. It was wrong of me to say what I said. Nor should I have called the driver fat, or overweight, regardless of the fact that he was. The name calling is not necessary. I could delete the last post where I did the name calling, and I could omit the reference to the driver of the Camry being overweight fat. I choose not to. But at least I have explained my reasons for doing so, AND owned up to the fact that what I did is not right. Mr. Al-Habri has yet to offer any explanation for his grossly demeaning and insulting article about his "so-called" maid. Nor has he offered any explanation that would correspond with Salem's defense of him that the article was all a metaphor. That I decide that there are a lot of ugly women over on this side of the world - there are. Let's face it there are a lot of ugly women all over the world. They are not just confined to the Sandbox. My use of the word "ugly" can be used in two ways. Ugly as in looks, and ugly as in actions. Take it any way you want. I mean it in both ways...

And let me say just one final thing about the whole "entitlement" thing. At some point there WILL be a complete turn around. Those that feel that they are entitled now? They'll get their comeuppance. Both here, in the Sandbox, and in the States [because there is a mentality of 'that' there - in a huge way - as well]. I believe that what goes around comes around. Oh yes. They will get theirs.

I started this post on Wednesday and just didn't get time to finish it. Finished it this morning - Thursday. Part of my not having the time is not taking the time. I find it difficult to be at the computer typing and NOT smoking. Still smoke free. Go, me! I just know I CAN do this. I know I am GOING to do this! Nothing would be better than a Kool and a cup of coffee at the computer, though... Quitting smoking is incredibly difficult. What a strong drug cigarettes are! I hate them. Hate them. Hate them. Hate them. At the same time, miss them terribly. I will, no doubt, be one of those horrid ex-smokers offended at the mere sight of a cigarette and will not be able to stand it when people around me smoke.


  1. The ATTITUDE...not just in Saudis, I"ve seen it in Americans visiting other countries, I'm ashamed to say. Example, an American male moron in Germany, screaming in English to a poor German shopkeeper. I said something to the man. He turned and yelled at me, "Well why DOESN'T he speak English?" I replied, "Because sir he is German and we ARE in Germany".
    But... the I AM BETTER attitude is prevalent here. Seems to stem from being from the Land of the Two Holy Mosques. As for the drunken behavior and denial of said behavior, there are many who do TRULY believe, once they are out of Saudi, Allah no longer sees them. Go figure that one and get back to me if you figure that out.
    The traffic jam fuster cluck happens at the Jordan borders too. Seems like they can't get out of Saudi fast enough on the weekends.

  2. Keep up the smoke-free status! Quitting is quite the bIaTch. Been there, done that. Are you still using the patch? How are the dreams? Just look back occasionaly and realize how long it's been since your last puff. After a year you'll feel like you've climbed Mt. Everest. You can do it!


Site Meter