Monthly Archives: August 2011

Time For Pretty Things…

As I sat down to write my next blog post, I thought to myself, “Hmmmm, I really don’t have much to say, not a whole lot has happened.” Then I looked at the pictures I’d taken between my last post and tonight, and found there was TOO MUCH to even begin explaining. Rather than type a forty-five minute narrative, I’d like to just treat you to some lovely pictures from my week off school with a few helpful captions. Note that you can click on each photo to enlarge it for better quality—I highly recommend it!
Enjoy!

My morning bike ride along the golf. Note the perfectly clean and quiet path that I have all to myself!


Our friends Andrew and Megan out to dinner at the old souk (an open-air market). They're from Newfoundland and it's their first time teaching abroad, too.


Sean & I at the old souk. We had the largest pieces of flatbread I'd ever seen!


Authentic Kuwaiti dinner at the old souk.


No matter where you are in the world, the laughter and smiles of children are always the same.


The Old Souk (Liberation Tower in the background.)




*Shudder* Shortly before I took this picture we made the mistake of stumbling through the 'livestock' corridor of the souk... whole halves of cattle were hanging on meat hooks.



View from the rooftop of our apartment.



Our rooftop patio... come on by for a BBQ ; )


Can you spot the Gulf?

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Categories: Kuwait | 3 Comments

Always the educator…

Hi folks,

No ‘new’ news for today, except that it was another scorcher. I did read an interesting anecdote in an expat magazine that I subscribe to about where the term ‘bedoun’ comes from, and thought it was worthy of sharing.

For years I’ve heard the expression “bedoun succar” which when ordering Turkish coffee in Kuwait, means “bitter please”. OK, so that’s what you say when you want it bitter, but I never realized (or checked) what the “bedoun” was all about. Then we got an article about bedouns in our mailbox, and what do we discover, the meaning of the word bedoun. Stateless people in the region are referred to as bedouns, a word which is explained in this sentence ”….his family members are bedouns, from the Ara- bic “bedoun jinsiyya” meaning “without nationality”. Which explains “bedoun succar” as “without sugar”!

Thanks to the e-newletter available at http://www.abcq8.com/ for such interesting info!

Categories: Kuwait | Leave a comment

Bike Souk Success!

Today I come bearing most excellent news: I am now the proud owner of a hybrid, off-brand road bike fit for the streets of Kuwait! (Or really for the ocean-side, car-free, walking paths of Kuwait…)

I got the drop-down bars I’ve always wanted… my poor Schwinn must be rolling over her grave right now ; )

We asked the do-it-all guy who works at our school/apartment buildings to help us; he’s

*Breaking news update. While typing this post, I was interrupted by the beep of my washer/dryer. Upon walking into the room (which is a small bathroom the maintenance people have rigged into an ‘adequate’ location for a washer/dryer by tying tubes around the toilet, placing the washer in the shower, and directing the water drainage into a hole in the floor) I realized it was completely flooded. Up to my ankles. I immediately knew what was the problem; I had taped up the ‘hole in the floor’ with duct tape so as to prevent cockroaches from crawling up from the sewers. (We had found a roach coming home tonight scuttling his way across our bedroom.) Now, the question must be raised. What is the most preferable quality of life? Clean laundry? Cockroach-free living? Such questions have I never had to ponder before in my life…

Anyway, the do-it-all guy is awesome. He’s got a Subaru Outback and took us to three different bike souks (souk=specialized market) to find a bike. We went at 9 at night as per his recommendation, and the city was crazy with people.

The first place we stopped at sold only Trek bikes for 300KD a piece. That’s like $1200. No thanks! Then we went to an open air market where there were 200+ bikes on the road side for sale, which is where I found my baby. We bartered it from 42KD down to 37KD. Not bad for beginners!

Tonight, Sean and I took it out for a test ride/walk to see if the gulf path was fit for a road bike. We had heard that the brick road might be too rough on road bike tires, so I was nervous. The evening walk along the gulf is beautiful… the way the particles of sand float lazily in the sky, the heat of the air, the setting sun, all combine in a surreal experience.

The gulf path is great, and perfect for my bike. I am excited to begin riding in the morning before school! (The safest—and coolest—time to ride.) However, before I leave you, our walk wouldn’t have been complete without a small detour to remind us of home…

Thus concludes the tale of the coasting cycle, the flooding floors, and the wide-eyed couple.

Up Next: Sean says he has quite the tale about felines up his sleeve, and I have an anecdote on our trip to the hidden Korean restaurant that sells “special water”…

Categories: Kuwait | Leave a comment

Iftar & The Kuwait 8

I am slowly coming to realize that there is a universal obsession with food. It’s not just a Wisconsin thing. There’s the freshman 15, the post-wedding pounds, and now the Kuwait 8. The food here is absolutely amazing and plentiful. On every corner there is fresh baklava or hummus, and in every household there are platters upon platters of delectable treats. It’s really too good to turn down (thus my new obsession with daily yoga and bicycling)!

Last night we were treated to an iftar dinner by our school (AISK). Apparently someone in administration has wasta, because this place was rolling in dough.

As I previously said, ‘Iftar’ is the break in which Muslims break the fast during Ramadan. By the way, to help contextualize this, Ramadan is the Islamic equivalent of Christmas in terms of importance and celebration. It is during Ramadan that they believe the first verses of the Qur’an were revealed to the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. Iftar normally begins with eating dates and drinking water. In this photo, you can see the dates in the center of our table (Sean absolutely loves them!). The couple on the left are friends we’ve made from Newfoundland, and the couple on the far side of the table are from Oregon 🙂

The meal consisted of an ENORMOUS buffet which consisted of multiple salads, dips, sauces, smoked fish, spanakopita-esque tapas, (What fusion! I love it!) soups, breads, cheeses, you name it. Then you went outside onto a beautiful balcony over the golf course for the meats. (Which is another long story… a golf course in Kuwait… note the POND in the picture. Shortly after taking this photo I wondered if the water evaporates out of it every day…)

Needless to say, the food was amazing. The dinner was hosted by a Kuwaiti family that has close ties to the school (see the definition of wasta above). And then there was dessert…

We were stuffed. What a wonderful time! Tonight I am going to the bicycle souk to find myself a slick set of wheels! Wish me luck!

Categories: Kuwait | 3 Comments

A New Beginning

Well, here I am, in Kuwait. Falling asleep to the hum of the air conditioner and waking up to the call to prayer echoing in my window from the Green Mosque.

…As a proud aside, I have begun to add authentic photos to my blog! All the pictures you see from here on out unless I say otherwise have been taken by yours truly : )

So far, I really like it! Flying into Kuwait in the dead of the night was unsettling, but when the airport security was having side conversations and listening to their ipods instead of watching the xray machines while the bags passed through the scanners, I was able to laugh a little. It’s incredibly hot; 110 during the day, but the mornings and evenings are really, really nice. They say it’s only going to get better (and by better I mean cooler) from here.

There is a 25 mile stretch of paved, landscaped bicycling and running path along the gulf! I was afraid I’d have nowhere to pedal my little toosh on a set of well-oiled wheels, but it appears that there are a few other cyclists in the school as well. Looks like I’m going be checking the classifieds for a schwinn pretty soon! I talked to a few people and plan on going to the ‘bike souk’ on Friday. A ‘souk’ is an open air market that sells all sorts of new and used odds and ends. I look forward to sharing my experience with you!

Okay, okay, you’re probably saying, “so tell me about the country already!” maybe you’re not saying that. Maybe you’re eating cheese curds, watching ABC, or relaxing with an alcoholic beverage. If so, I really hate you right now. (just kidding.) But in truth, there IS no alcohol-unless you brew your own-and there are no cheese curds or ABC. What is there, you may ask? The most delicious baklava, hummus, and pita I have had in my life. A beautiful coastline sculpted by sand (and highly paid architects). Women adorned in gorgeous fabrics, and children wearing Ralph Lauren. A grocery store that sells cheese made in Iowa (a part of me died inside when I saw it). Picturesque Arabic script blanketing every street sign and shopping mall.

It’s also Ramadan right now, which means that eating or drinking in public during daylight hours is actually ILLEGAL. All of the restaurants are closed during the day and open after the evening prayer (6:30ish) and remain open until 2am. Sean made the mistake one day of buying an ice cream bar after school, walking outside of the bakala (a small market that sells convenience items and snacks), and starting to unwrap it. I snatched it out of his hands and, being the caring wife that I am, hurried home while cradling it in the recesses of my purse and it dripped all over my hands so that he could eat it privately 🙂 Tomorrow we are going to an Iftar dinner that our school is treating us to, which is the meal that breaks the daily fasting during Ramadan (which I forgot to mention is 30 days long).

We also just got internet, which costs 21 KD a month (around 80 USD) which Sean is not too pleased with. Our speed is currently only 150 Kb/sec…. which is incredibly slow. Ahhhh, Kuwait.

Categories: Kuwait | 1 Comment

Whoops…

Hello, world!

Looks like I haven’t been keeping up with my “myth-a-day” promise. I somehow had my hands full with arranging a wedding, getting married, and honeymooning on the Pacific coast. *Sigh.*

…Not to mention packing for Kuwait because Sean and I leave on MONDAY.

That being said, get ready for some real, honest-to-goodness myth-busting straight from the sandy shores of the Persian Gulf itself!

If you’ve patiently and lovingly (or not so lovingly) followed what I’ve posted so far, thank you! I would now like you—the reader—to contribute to the birth of my brainchild by answering the following question. Let’s make things interactive!

Question #1: During your travels, what has been something that you have missed THE MOST from your homeland? It could be that you went to Jamaica during February and wistfully recalled your cracked, bleeding, and frostbitten lips that you so lovingly embraced back in Wisconsin. (Just kidding.) It could be when you were traveling in Alaska and longed for a sandy beach and a shopping mall. Did you miss peanut butter while in Europe? I know I did. Cheerios when in China? I was recently in Canada, where I greatly missed… well… maybe I really didn’t miss anything while I was in Canada. Except my family and friends, of course 😉

Enlighten me with what you longed for when you were long away from home, and in due time I will soon be able to post my own longings from the other side of the planet.

Five days and counting!

Categories: America | 1 Comment

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