April 20: Blame it on Bahrain

I’ve been in Kuwait for nearly ninety days now, which means that my tourist visa is about to expire. This, in turn, means that it’s time to enact the ridiculous plan wherein I run out of the country, tag a wall, yell “Base!”, and run back in, grabbing a new visa on the way. I leave tomorrow for Bahrain, where the aforementioned wall is located, and should have just enough time to see the country out of airport and car windows before it’s time to come back.

This is, of course, assuming that things go according to plan. I haven’t had great luck with plane tickets this trip, though, and the events leading up to this trip aren’t filling me with confidence. Our company’s contact in charge of setting up this trip, Bastian, called me today to let me know that I was booked on a plane tomorrow at 3 PM. Now, there’s technically no reason why I’d really need more than twenty-four hours’ notice. I knew it had to be sometime in the next few days, since my visa’s just about up. Still, it might have been nice to have some warning.

He told me that he’d bring the ticket to me sometime after 3:00 today. It’s currently 9 PM, which admittedly is undeniably after 3. It’s just that a quarter day after 3 is rather longer than I was expecting. I could call him to find out where he is, and I suppose I will if he hasn’t shown up in the next hour, but for now I’m entertaining myself by speculating on how they expect me to get to Bahrain without a plane ticket.

Bastian’s original plan was to have me leave on the twenty-sixth and come back on the twenty-seventh. I’m not sure why he wanted to do this on the exact last day, but even after I explained that I was likely leaving in June, the earliest I could get him to agree to arrange the flight was the twentieth. At the time, I had assumed that this was because he didn’t want to have to set up a last minute flight, but now I’ve sort of gathered that he just waited until today to set the flight up anyway, so I don’t know why he was so insistent on putting it off.

Thanks to the delay, I may end up getting another paid vacation out of this. I’m leaving for Bahrain on the twenty-first, and I’ll be back on the twenty-second. I have the twenty-third off, which means the first day I’ll be back at work is the twenty-fourth. The twenty-seventh is the last day I’ll be allowed on base with my current badge. And we’ve just learned that under US Army rules, when you renew your tourist visa, you’re not allowed to use it to work anymore. They figure that if you’re here working for more than ninety days, you really ought to get a work visa. Sounds fairly reasonable to me; I believe I said something similar when I first found out that we’d be working illegally, too. Anyway, it turns out that if you want to get a new badge on a renewed visa, you need an Exception to Policy form signed, countersigned, and certified. This takes between forty-eight hours and two weeks. The badge office opens at 1 PM and, as mentioned, I can’t get there until the twenty-fourth. That means that at the earliest, my paperwork will get approved one hour before I leave work on the penultimate day of my badge. Planning on everything going perfectly is not generally a recipe for success, but there’s not a lot else I can do at this point.

I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that months ago, I correctly called the badge renewal as a point where things would go horribly wrong. In fairness, I also named absolutely everything else I could think of as an opportunity for things to go horribly wrong, so my prediction is perhaps less impressive than it might have been. On the other hand, I’ve been right about 85% of the time, and the 15% where I’ve been wrong includes the bits where things went wrong in surprising and unexpected ways.

Assuming that I actually receive a plane ticket at some point tonight, though, I don’t anticipate any problems with the Bahrain trip itself. This is because I’m heading to that country with none of their currency, to a hotel I don’t currently know the name of, on an unknown flight number and airline, having been given only round numbers for when to get to airports I’ve never been to before, with no knowledge of traffic conditions, parking situation, or anything like that. It’s just too obvious a sticking place. I expect everything to go swimmingly, just because it shouldn’t. I’m a great believer in the perversity of the universe, and in this sort of situation, two wrongs most certainly make a right.

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