Okay I know I explained what Ramadan was in the last deployment article, but that was directly from Wikipedia and therefore may not be completely correct. This next explanation is in my own words and its a summary of my research and what I was told while I was in Bahrain.
Ramadan is the 9th month on the Islamic calendar and it lasts 29-30 days. They fast all day, they do not smoke, they do not drink alcohol, they do not have sex, and they pray more than 5 times which is the norm. Now, you would think that this is fine, we can work around what they do and do our own thing, but unfortunately that was not the case. They stop serving alcohol in Bahrain everywhere so as not to tempt anyone from the muslim religion while Ramadan is going on. I consider Bahrain to be part of the Middle East as Las Vegas is part of the United States, with the exception that most of the surrounding countries are completely alcohol free (Jedda). This is not what a sailor wants to hear.
They also ban eating in public punishable by the Bahrain police. If you get caught eating, chewing gum, or wearing scandalous clothing as a female you will be fined or arrested. At least that’s what the Navy told us. I can’t be certain that is completely true as I have never seen it. This means we were restricted to base. Bummer.
On another side note I did forget to tell you about my first introduction the prayer call on my first day exploring Bahrain. I was at one of the Gold SOUQ’s and we were shopping around and then all of a sudden this very loud blaring sound blasted through the speakers in the mall. This was the call to prayer. It happens everywhere 5 times a day and when the call to prayer is called, Muslims unroll their prayer mats and kneel down and pray. This is the first time I had seen anything like this. Most of the vendors sell alarm clocks that looks like a Mosque and sounds the call of prayer for an alarm. I was able to find a video on YouTube that is an example of the call to prayer. && of course a picture of the alarm clock:)
“Picture taken from google images”
Anyway back to the present…
We tried to continuously spice up our nights at the officer’s club because all we had was one little room with a bar and that was it. The Philippine Sea, whom is deployed independently but was supposed to be with our strike group, pulled in for a few days and they have one of the helo dets embarked on them. This was very exciting because the MO Maintenance Officer for the helo’s used to be on our ship but he got promoted to AIRBOSS And is now on the Phillipine Sea. His call sign is Manther because he’s the male version of a cougar since he got divorced and he’s very suave. He was one of my favorite pilots from the South America fiasco and it was very nice having a reunion! One of the nights it ended up being the pilots from our ship, the pilots from the Phill Sea and me at a table just laughing hysterically making fun of everyone and being very obnoxious. That was one of my favorite nights and sadly ended to quickly. I really do like to hang out with the pilots, they are so chill compared to SWO’s.
On another night, Shacker, one of the pilots from my ship, kept putting beer bottles in his back pocket on alert 5 standby which is a status for the helo 5 minutes before they are off deck for a flight. Then, when someone wanted a beer, he would hand it to me and I was the shooter, which most importantly entailed opening the bottle with my arm, a trick I learned at good ol’ West Virginia. Everyone was shocked by this, I just kept laughing. There were a lot of alert five’s and when I woke up the next morning, I had cuts on my arm. We laughed about it all day, but I will say successfully completed my job as shooter 100%.
After the repairs had been made to the equipment and it was monitored with a close eye, the Commodore flew in to Bahrain from the Carrier. Almost immediately after his arrival he called meeting with the divers, the dive boss, the civilian technicians, WEPS, my senior chief, myself, and the captain. I was the only female at the meeting. We had a long discussion and after much determination, the repairs were as complete as they could be and we would be getting underway for a trail run. It had been a looooong three weeks.
Upon getting underway the next day until the afternoon, we found out that the repairs had worked! Things were looking up. My last Bahrain story will be included in article 5… STANDBY!