15 September 2012


I have been receiving many messages asking if I am safe.  I woke up this morning and read the Gulf Daily News article regarding the protests yesterday.  First, let me explain some things I know about the protests.

1. Fridays are the worst days for protests.  Our weekend is Friday and Saturday here.  Saturday is a normal Saturday, Friday is our Sunday.  If that makes sense.  The weekend used to be Thursday and Friday, but they switched it. Anyways, the groups form after religious services, which is why Fridays are the most prominent days for protests.

2. The protests are not intended to be deadly or dangerous.  Their goal is to literally be a pain in the ass.  One of the major things that occur through out the week are tire fires.  They take large tires, douse them with petroleum and light them on fire in the middle of the freeway, just to be an annoyance, and show the powers that be that they are powerful. There are cop cars stationed on all the freeways and at the gas stations.  If you pull over a cop car will immediately be on you.

So now lets talk about where I live. I live in Manama (pronounced Muh-NAM-a).  My school is in Isa Town (Eesa) which is where ALL of the private schools are and the Ministry of Education.  If you read the article, you see that the protests took place in Riffa and Isa Town, both south of where I live.  They are towards the desert, which the southern half of the island is desert and large compounds for families.  My school in Isa Town is about 15 minutes away with no traffic, but there is always traffic.  There is a small mall in Isa Town, but besides that, the only reason I go there is for school.  Riffa is a compound area.  The other places listed were Muharraq, which is in the diplomat area of the island, and it's own island of the archipelago.  Tubli Bay is the same.  When they say parts of Manama, lets go over what they mean.

I live in a district of Manama called Adliya (pronounced Adlee-ya).  The area where we are used to be water we were told.  You can see my neighborhood on the lower part of the map.  The Navy base is in Juffair (pronounced jew-fair).  We are friends with some of the Royal Navy so we know all riots and protests in advance and are constantly being looked after.  Juffair is about 5 minutes by taxi from my apartment.  Adliya does start the Navy "off limits zone".  We are on the edge of the range of possible activity.  It goes up to the Souq (or Souk pronounced sook) which you can see is close to the diplomatic area.  So basically, the protests are taking place north of me and south of me.  No matter what you believe about politics and policies in the middle east I have been told (and shown nothing different) that the protesters want nothing to do with westerners HERE.  They are not mad at me, or my friends.  They are upset with their government, not me, I am completely safe.  I live in a very western neighborhood and Juffair is all western.  

When we go out to dinner, or grocery shopping, or to bars, it is in Adliya or Juffair.  We have no need to go anywhere else.  My students and their parents are incredibly sweet and eager to learn about my culture and life, as I am to learn about their culture and life.  Half of the population of Bahrain is foreign, with 20% of the total population being western.  It is very welcoming to western life.  

I have not seen any action, riots, protests or disruptions.  I am completely aware of the city around me and like I said, I get daily safety reports from my friends. 

So thank you all for your concerns, thoughts and prayers.  I really am having fun and feel very safe.

***edited to add: New information just came through text that things are still unsafe.  We are taking precautions.  I was supposed to go to base today but the boats (ships, but I like to call them boats) are confined.  I'll keep you updated. ***