Two months down! To catch you up on October’s delights, I’ve included a little video scrapbook. Maybe you’ll find yourself or a friend! After you’ve checked it out and are convinced to come join, I’ve decided to prepare you for a visit to Kuwait with a list of things you should know and discoveries you will have on your journey.
Prepare to relax. There’s a lot of downtime, a lot of ‘me’ time here. There’s plenty of space to explore your own thoughts and get to know yourself on a much deeper level than you ever have. It can be almost like a meditation retreat that you get to embark on on a daily basis if you choose.
Prepare to make your own adventure. There is plenty to do if you want to do it. The three main venues are gyms, malls, and churches. Though most gyms are men-only, the female gyms are luxurious and spa-like. Imagine beaches, outdoor pools, massages, coffee shops, and a workout all in one! The desert- go explore! Go searching in the desert for wild camels and Bedouins. Watch the sunrises and sunsets. Take Arabic lessons. Wander until you’re lost, then see how quickly you can find your ground. Say yes to invitations. We had a great time at the Australian Ambassador’s residence, enjoyed a rooftop movie complete with a live band and a BBQ, and watched boys test their dancing skills at the local outdoor mall. You just have to say yes, and the adventures will keep coming!
Prepare to take comfort in the prayer times. Each mosque in the country has call-to-prayer six times daily. Voices echo from loudspeakers, creating such beautiful, peaceful harmonies. Even if you don’t understand the words, slow down, listen, and appreciate.
Prepare to come across plenty of amusing English translations. Salons in my neighborhood include: “Man Hair”, “Farts”, and “The Saloon”. There are enough witty renderings on signs around here to keep you giggling the whole ride home.
Prepare for sand. Everywhere. In your hair. In your shoes. In your home. Residences have personal car washers continuously making rounds to keep cars sparkling. Many friends opt for maids to come to their homes once a week to help clean. Insides of cars and taxis are line with plastic to keep sand from seeping in. Electronics are put away in drawers unless they’re being used, and get ready for a scrub-session if you leave that window cracked open too long! On particularly dusty days, sunglasses serve as barriers, and scarves and mouth guards keep dust from dirtying up those pearly whites and precious lungs.
Prepare to live in past, present and future all at once. Seaside chats and leisurely strolls can bring back memories you haven’t thought about in ages. They can inspire creative thoughts you didn’t know existed. They can form bonds stronger than you thought possible in a short amount of time.
Prepare to enjoy thrillers more than romance. Scenes will be deleted if there are any traces of promiscuity, yet will remain as gory and graphic as ever. That sweet peck on the cheek? Gone. That shooting spree scene that left fifteen dead and blood stained corneas? It’s all there.
At the same time, prepare for the people around you in theaters to be chatting it up on cell phones, watching youtube videos, shining cell phone lights into the dark theater air, and not think twice. It’s a different kind of show at the theaters here, yet still incredibly entertaining.
Prepare to keep your ears and heart open. The stories you’ll hear are worth remembering and worth acknowledging. Kuwait’s expats come from all walks of life, and each have a unique account as to why they’re here. Pay attention, love, learn, and grow.
Prepare to rejoice in reminders of forgotten pastimes. A morning breakfast carried into the afternoon and left us ready for another meal. We made our way over to another nearby restaurant and opened the menu to find dishes inspired by Candyland. The board game you used to love, the one that once took you through Candy Cane Forest and over Gum Drop Mountain, was reincarnated as steaks marinated in chocolate sauce, Philly cheese steak sandwiches garnished with chocolate-infused cheese, and of course the all important dessert menu which covered all Candyland bases.
Prepare to fight boredom the right way- no nights out at bars or clubs. Instead- good old fashioned game nights. Having people from all over the world attempt to act out and guess movie titles in games of charades is really a good idea. Some may get creative by making codes (a ’t’ made by crossing the two pointer fingers means “The” is part of the title), but when it escalates to spelling out the entire word using bodies as characters…it’s time to go back to basics. If you’re really looking to class things up, play partner charades. Silently. Good movies to go for: Titanic and American Pie. More difficult choices: Avatar and Batman. At least from our experience- try it and see what you think.
Prepare to see your wanderlust increase tenfold. Check out Kuwait’s location on a map, and you’ll see that it’s so simple to wander from country to country here that the lists of places to go grows longer and longer. This weekend, I pray with every cell of my being to travel to Turkey to see my family who’s there on vacation. Next weekend? Let’s try Dubai. December? How about India? It’s not too far. That still leaves Jordan, Egypt, and South Africa as must-sees before heading back to the states. Maybe, just maybe, another year is in order to really take advantage of the location and ease of travel.
Prepare for a school system different than any in America. Prepare for boys who underestimate the power of their own diaphragms, and for girls who love Spanish telenovelas. Prepare for classes and schools separated by gender. Prepare for the utmost respect shown in a different way than you’re used to. Prepare for generosity and smiles, and fights and shouts. Prepare to be reminded on a constant basis how lucky you are to be where you are, doing what you’re doing.
Prepare to be patiently impatient. In three days, I hope to leave for Turkey. Yet I haven’t booked a ticket yet. Why? Well… operations run quite slowly around here sometimes. And… the school may or may not have lost my Visa. While I did let it throw me into a funk for a weekend and while I did shed a few tears the day after I found out while sitting at Caribou, I quickly remembered- I’m at Caribou. In Kuwait. Who would’ve thought this day would come? So I kept on celebrating the way I’d intended and I keep on hoping that in the next three days I’ll have passport in hand and be aboard a plane to see those curly haired faces I love so much.
Prepare to celebrate in a different manner. This past month, three amazing ladies from home have celebrated their weddings. Before leaving, we decided on different ways to honor these events together despite our distances. One delightful celebration was completed with a cup of Caribou Coffee, another with secretive shennanigans. Another friend agreed this summer to deliver their presents in my absence. And birthdays- we’ve decided on baking Minnesota-shaped cookies on each birthday that passes so we can all enjoy a treat together. Christmas presents were purchased and wrapped in July and August, and left to be discovered at the appropriate time. No perishable items included… I hope 😉 And so what if Halloween isn’t widely celebrated here. That won’t prevent you from wearing orange and black, or from baking up jack-o-lantern style pita pizzas. Keep that spirit glowing!
Prepare to find some funky foods. Is that a chicken? Nope. It’s quail. That fresh butcher-shop meat? Camel. Those clucking chickens? Those are for sale, of course- take your pick. Make sure to get a juicy one! Or the little boy walking down the street with a sweet white sheep. That’ll be a short lived friendship, but will taste mighty fine tonight at dinner!
Prepare to change your perception of pets. Last night, a sweet dog accompanied me on a walk to the coffee shop. Each morning, cats grace us with their presence as we wait for the bus. These are not pets. The cheetahs and panthers our students keep as pets and that you might get lucky enough to see in the passenger seat of a local’s car or on a yacht at bay. Those are pets.
Prepare to love it. Find the right people. Find yourself. Make it your home. It’s been just two months, but it’s been a great two months. It’s not my forever home, but it’s really a decent home for the moment.