Bahrain 9 – All good things……

We were shattered last night and slept well into the morning. Luckily there was no rush as the only appointment we had was with Stan from the Gulf Weekly at 11.00. After breakfast Christine and I made a start on packing and then walked up to the Janabiyah burial mound field, which we’d past a few times without having an opportunity to visit. It is a very impressive collection of 18 mounds, 5 of them large chieftain mounds. They date from around 2,000 B.C.E. And consist of burial chambers built of stone blocks and covered with loose rock and sand. At this time Bahrain was flourishing economically, trading in copper,pearls, lapis lazuli, coral, beads and turtle shells. The graves reflect this prosperity.

While we visited this site, Susan and Norma paid a brief visit to the camel farm with Chris. We reconvened at Venice Gardens and met Stan, the editor of The Gulf Daily News who wanted to hear a little about our visit and take a photo. It turned out that he knew Barry Peters, the editor of the Bury Free Press, so we took a photo of Christine and I holding Bury tea towels and bags!

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Some of the group went swimming while the rest of us slobbed out and read and chatted. Then it was off to a delightful Arabic restaurant. When we arrived it was full and there were clearly people waiting for tables. We went upstairs and it was the same story. I happened to go into an area where tables were set in alcoves behind curtains and a waiter immediately offered me a table for eight! Naturally we took it! The curtains are so that women can unveil in the privacy of the booth where only their famil6 would see them. We ordered mezze and enjoyed a variety of delicious dishes and bread. Some of us also had pomegranate juice which was unfortunately sweetened. It was a really good meal and we came out feeling replete.

Once back in Venice Gardens we said goodbye to the cathedral contingent and settled on the settees for a read of the book and whatever might follow.

We awoke around 5.00 p.m. and after a cup of tea, Stephanie drove us out to the Son et Lumiere at the fort. It was a lovely evening but with a cool breeze and I was glad of my pullover. The fort looked stunning under the floodlights with the city skyscrapers behind it. We settled on our seats and were joined by the others. We had just got comfortable when we were told to follow a man to another area where the first part of the show would be displayed. This lasted all of 4 minutes and then we were taken back to our seats for the main event. I’m not sure what the point was other than to give us an opportunity to trip over a rock or disappea4 down a hole on the journey. Still the Lumiere was superb. The Son was O.K. although it was narrated by an American with an apparent 60 Marlborough a day habit. His voice was so gravelly you could have made concrete with his spit. However it was a lovely event and well worth seeing.

We parted company with Chris, Susan and Norma afterwards and the three of us walked around the outside of the fort. Then Stephanie drove us to Le Chocolate, a wonderful upmarket patisserie. She treated us to coffee and cake. I had a chocolate and nut tart to die for. It was worth every single one of its multifarious calories.

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Then it was back to Venice Gardens and packing. We sit poised at the end of this wonderful trip, ready for the British cold, but still enjoying the Bahrain warmth….and I’m not just talking air temperature here. We have met so many wonderful people on this visit and been overwhelmed by kindness. There is a thriving Christian community being salt and light to all around them, but it is also a thriving multi-faith community. Yes, there are political issues between Sunni and Shi’a and between the rich and the poor, but we have felt that there is a genuine desire to sort these out and progress has been made. No country gets everything right and heaven knows the U.K. certainly hasn’t as the recent U.N. Report has shown. There is no doubt that Bahrain is an enlightened beacon in the Gulf and one can only hope that others in the region may learn from it.

 

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