As nice as it is to walk around Kuwait at nighttime, without the sun burning the bridge of your nose and sweating the saliva out of your mouth, there’s something to be said about trekking about during the daytime. The way the colors pop on the painted buildings, the excitement of looking forward to freshly-made felafel, the sensation of transitioning from 112 degrees to an air-conditioned building.
One of the things I love about Kuwait are the surprises that lie around every corner. I know, I know, that sounds cliche, but walk twenty minutes in any direction and you’ll find a Turkish sandwhich shop that you hadn’t known before, a man selling eggplant and dates buy the pound, or someone who tells you you can buy cell phone credits at the bakala on the corner. All places which you never knew existed when you SWEAR you’ve walked the same street before. Or walking into the grocery store and they’re out of toothpaste. Or they have a sale where if you buy three oven mitts you get a free car battery. We love taking an afternoon and just “exploring” Kuwait.
It’s actually fairly pedestrian-friendly; this picture was taken from one of the many overpasses that you can take to get where you want to. (As a side note, if I had been on this bridge during rush-hour, you’d see Kuwaitis make five lanes of cars where there are only three painted… and one driving on the median.)
There are even facilities every few blocks that provide fresh drinking water for people on foot. Of course, some aren’t working, some have a cat sleeping in the water basin, and some are in the shape of genie lamps, but all of that makes them the harder to miss : )
Here’s Sean on one of our treks to the grocery store. It’s a twenty minute walk, and if we bring our backpacks and canvas bags, we don’t even need to take a taxi back! Note the skyscrapers in the background, the rich, green soccer field in the foreground. People here looooove soccer. Children play it in the dead of night in sand lots, or in between apartment buildings like the picture below:
On a particular walk to the grocery store, we take said overpass and decided we wanted to grab some lunch. After a few disappointing minutes in the Titanic Mall of only finding KFCs and McDonalds, we came upon a little cafe-esque place called SWAQ that claimed they sold burgers, shakes, salads, and paninis for around 1.5 KD a meal. (That’s like $5.) Sean was able to get his burger fix, and we split a delicious, nourshing, strawberry shake…
Notice the mayonnaise and fries, not ketchup and fries! (Mom, when you visit, you may want to smuggle a bottle of Heinz around in your purse when we go out to eat…)
Speaking of things I love about Kuwait, it’s not only the surprises that keep me on my toes, but the ambiguity in every day situations. Below is a membership application for a rewards card at the supermarket we frequent…
The funny thing is, that’s all the information we have EVER had to give concerning our address… I’ve heard stories of people ordering Pizza Hut delivery and having to go outside and flag down the delivery guy two blocks away. It seems that most of the businesses (even the visa office at the airport) just ask for the general region you reside in as a fair substitute for an exact address. I’m sure this will prove to be problematic in the future, but that’s a story for another blog : )
Lastly, don’t get me wrong, thinking that Kuwait is made up of burgers, shakes, and air conditioned commercialism. That’s just what you find when you don’t look hard enough…
Today, Sean and I grabbed some lunch at a small place right behind our apartment building that looks like a travel agency to the passerby. Arabic covers the windows, and the walls are lined with maps of the Arab Gulf and the Mediterranean. For only 300 fils (the equivalent of $1 USD) you can have the most delicious, kiln-fired cheesy, meaty (for Sean) pita sandwich overflowing with olives, vegetables, and deliciousness.
If I eat as much as I blog about food, looks like I’ll need to be doing more biking along the Gulf!