After 30 hours of travel, I landed safely in Kuwait. Much of the time was spent aboard a Qatar Airways cruiser and headed west toward an area of the world I’d never been before. We were each handed blanket and pillow along with a small purse-like bag complete with warm socks, earplugs, an eye cover, toothbrush, and other tricks and treats. The smiley stewardesses wore swanky dresses and little top hats, and a few had on sweet little white gloves while serving us dinner, snacks, beverages, and breakfast.
And fresh red roses in first class made the flight more sweet. The hundreds of entertainment choices on the seat beck TVs were fully appreciated, since I thought it’d be a good idea to sleep less than an hour during the journey as to beat the jet lag that chases down cross-continent travelers. Not advisable, but you never know until you try! The TVs also have route trackers which showed as our plane crossed the Atlantic, over Ireland, Russia, and straight south through Iraq. Stomach flip. That was something I wasn’t expecting. A bit naive, but I felt like there would’ve been some invisible barrier preventing us from crossing over a place who had been lighting up NBC and CNN every minute for the weeks leading up to this trip. We landed in Qatar at 6pm, and it was already dark. Exiting the plane, I felt the heat of a jet’s hard work radiating off the plane’s outside metals. I hopped from one plane to the other, and jumped a short distance from Qatar to Kuwait in less than two hours.
Two men from the school met me with a “Dasman” sign, and after a short wait in the airport for another teacher and my first peak at one of Kuwait’s many Caribou Coffees (!!!!!), we stepped outside the air-conditioned doors and into… Heat. So warm! It was dark. Yes it’s the desert, but doesn’t the desert cool off at night? At least a bit? Nope. That heat I explained as a radiating pulse coming from the plane in Qatar? That briefly engulfed me while exiting the plane? That wasn’t just from the plane as I’d originally thought. No, it was the honest to goodness HEAT of the Middle East. 114 degrees Fahrenheit at 10pm. So hot that pulling one suitcase out the airport’s doors made instant sweat stains on my shirt. Instant. We aren’t in Minnesota anymore. We aren’t even in Boulder or El Paso anymore. We’re in Kuwait now. Where we wear nothing less than t-shirt and capris and don’t dare to walk more than a couple blocks at a time for fear of melting. Where we duck into tiny stands while shopping to feel a blast of air conditioning coming from the back corner. Where McDonald’s ice cream has become a delicious treat and social event, and where coffee comes in more styles than lattes and frappuccinos- Karak, Arabic, Turkish… oh so tasty. Where alcohol and pork are illegal, and the work week is Sunday through Thursday, leading us Westerners to ditch TGIF in exchange for SHIT (So Happy It’s Thursday). No, I do not like cuss words, but this particular acronym kind of makes me giggle.
Where gasoline costs less than water and the people are incredibly smiley and kind. Where we get to use hoses in place of toilet paper, and leapin’ lizards grace the school walls. This is Kuwait, and so far it’s great!
Though I won’t lie. The first week was a bit rough. There were a few times where I wondered when I’d been knocked off my rocker. How did I end up here? How could I last an entire year here? What do I do on weeknights and where are those beautiful Rocky Mountains that used to be just a 5 minute walk away from home? What should I eat? How do I call home? Where do I call home? Do I overcome my claustrophobic distaste of air conditioning in order to keep a normal body temperature?
The answers to those questions became visible with just a tiny bit of patience. Already, the nights and weekends have been kindly balanced with a fair amount of ‘me’ time and an enjoyable amount of friend time.
Adventures and non-adventures have ranged from- Exploring a local market known as a Souk and falling in love with its colorful culture. Wandering in awe at the way so many nut and prune stands stacked together can each create their distinct image of joy and pride to the owners. Learning to haggle and talk taxi drivers into a cheaper fair despite the already impressive low cost. Completing Boulder YogaPod’s 30 Day Asana Challenge in my own apartment (30 days of both movement and stillness practices to line up with the Harvest moon’s transition to a full Lunar Eclipse this month)
Attempting to bake cookies in a gas oven with no temperature control. See photo. Honestly nearly burnt the place down.
Improving my dance skills with nightly dance parties. Thanks to the man who helped put my curtains up after a week so the outside could not longer look in at these catastrophes. 3 words: Out Of Control (No picture available. Thank me later 😉 Meeting a Minnesotan who shares the same love of The ‘Bou!
Reading game-changing books such as El Mago de Oz (The Wizard of Oz in Spanish) and a copy of James and the Giant Peach that was sitting all alone in the book room at school and looked like it could use a little loving. (It’ll be returned tomorrow, I promise!)
Joining groups of Expats at dinners, breakfast, and a great bowling outing just down the street. Leaving our apartments to walk to the Co-op to get dinner supplies with one other teacher, and managing to collect two other great ladies on the way.
Remember, walking here is not common, so to find 4 of us wandering the streets was a bit different. Stops in a and a candy shop landed us free samples, both in-store and take home. They wouldn’t accept any amount of money, but insisted we take home two baggies of goodies, and lots of smiles. We will be returning for sure!
Touring the Grand Mosque and learning of the importance of the Muslim religion in Kuwait’s culture. Also, wearing a Hajab and being mindful to enter each room with the right foot, as per proper etiquette . Learning to balance the cool AC temperatures by opening the apartment windows nearly every time I’m at home. Not only does it allow for a slight breeze, but those outside traffic sounds can honestly hum me to sleep.
Saying “Yes.” It’s been so important to me to say ‘yes’ as often as possible. Why not?! We’ll see where these “yes”s lead. So far, they’ve led to some great people, some interesting places, and to the beginning of a memorable experience. Time is already flying- today is day 20!!! Love 🙂