It’s currently November 10, and a breezy 75 degrees outside. The sun is shining, my bicycle justs coasts along the gulf as if I were carried by the clouds. This time of year in Kuwait has proven to be exceptional.
Speaking of exceptional, Sean and I just got back from Dubai, worked for 2 weeks, and were greeted with a 9 day vacation. The vacation is called ‘Eid Al Adha’, which—according to my Kuwaiti students—is the equivalent to Thanksgiving in terms of importance. It’s known as the ‘festival of sacrifice’ and commemorates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience to God, before God intervened to provide him with a sheep to sacrifice instead. (Wikipedia)
I bet you Christian readers out there didn’t know there were such close similarities between Islam and Christianity!
There is normally 2 or 3 days off of school, depending on when the holiday falls; Islam follows a lunar calendar remember. THIS year, the holiday fell so that we would have only had 2 days of school this work week (Wednesday & Thursday). The ministry of Kuwait called a national holiday those two days, so we had this entire week off of school.
Since Sean and I don’t have our passports (recall the Dubai adventure to get our paperwork filed?), we were lucky to spend this entire break in Kuwait. At first, I’ll admit, I sulked the first few hours of Eid, complaining that we’d having NOTHING to do…. boy, was I wrong! This Eid has been absolutely amazing. I look forward to sharing it with you over the next week or so through photographs and stories.
Hahaha, don’t worry, this isn’t how Sean and I normally dress. (Unfortunately.) Eid fell right before Halloween this year, so I decided to stick two Halloween photos in here with the rest of our vacation.
Can you guess who we are? Lancelot and Guinevere. It was surprisingly easy to create the costumes; we went to the Friday Market (open-air bazaar) and there was no shortage of tunics, dresses, and odds and ends. I love making costumes, and these were a hit! It shouldn’t come as a surprise that it was easy to find conservative floor-length dresses here…
The primary reason I chose to share this photo with you is because I’m proud of how our apartment looks in the background! We’ve really been able to call our house a home… it’s a beautiful apartment building and we’ve been lucky to have great neighbors who helped us furnish it 🙂 We even have a buiding ‘harris’ who lives on the first floor. His responsibility is to fix leaky sinks, take out garbage, change lightbulbs, the works. Looks like we’ll never need to call an electrician or a plumber… aren’t we lucky!
The first night of Eid we visited the Old Souq (Souq Mubarakiya). I just love their displays of fruits and vegetables. I actually started a HUGE argument this evening between two vendors… I pointed to Vendor A’s pomegranate and asked Vendor B how much is cost. Vendor A stormed over to tell me the price, while Vendor B was trying to get me to buy HIS pomegranate instead. They complete forgot about me and got into an intense screaming match that I quietly escaped.
The ladies I went to the Souq with found this amazing semi-precious stone shop. They specialized in prayer beads (in the above photo), but also had lapis lazuli, amber, and other beautiful pieces for very cheap. Whenever you see a Muslim man in a dishdasha, chances are he’ll be carrying a string of prayer beads with him. (Side note: On our flight to Dubai, Sean and I got to talking with the man sitting next to us on the plane, a young Kuwaiti man, and at the end of the flight he gave Sean his prayer beads as a gift. It was a magical moment! I hope he’s not reading this, because I am currently using said prayer beads as a decoration around one of my candles….)
My good friend, Heidi, inside the scarf & abaya shop at the old souq. Look at all those beautiful scarves! They all sell for around 1KD, or approximately $3.50 USD each. Can I also mention that Heidi is from Minnesota? 🙂
Heidi and Rachel inside the Iranian carpet shop. There are SUCH beautiful carpets here, I can see how a hobby could turn into an addiction. Many of the carpets you can see in this photo would cost around $400 USD; many are made with real silk!
After our adventure at the Old Souq, we headed back to our neighborhood where we found a great place for some ‘hubbly bubbly’, or shisha. It’s an open-air hookah bar, where you sit on deck chairs under the trees. We sat around and smoked shisha until late in the evening. It’s such a relaxing, social activity, in a country where there’s no alcohol. I think it’s a pleasant alternative; you can sip on homemade chai tea, smoke a little shisha, and enjoy hours of un-inebriated conversation. (It’s also a lot cheaper!)
WARNING. THE NEXT PHOTOGRAPH IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART.
I gave you a warning, didn’t it? I also said that Eid Al Adha is known as the ‘festival of sacrifice’. Put the two together, and you have the Islamic tradition of sacrificing a sheep during Eid. While walking home the night prior, I saw a group of men on the side of our apartment building huddled around a live sheep! Sean and I kept watch all night, and thought the sheep was going to survive. Little did we know, the next morning we woke up to a soft hacking sound, kind of a chop-chop-chop. Looking out the window, only 25 feet away, we witnessed the above photo. The bucket of blood is unfortunately still there… 7 days later… Our whole apartment did smell like a delicious lamb stew for a few days afterward!
To brighten the mood, here’s another photo of a lovely hookah restaurant in Kuwait. It’s a Lebanese restaurant in Marina Mall. I had a lovely time sharing conversation and delicious food with my coworkers and friends.
Another night of Eid, Sean and I went to 360 Mall. Sean had his first Italian restaurant experience in Kuwait! He ordered—you guessed it—fettuccine Alfredo with chicken. I ordered a delicious spinach and mushroom pasta dish. Our meal came with freshly-baked bread, and in the true Italian style, I ordered a single espresso to top off the night 🙂
Here I am in front of 360 Mall. How beautiful! While the mall was insanely crowded with families for the holiday, we really loved seeing the architecture and landscaping. (Don’t forget… we’re STILL in the desert…)
Speaking of families out for the holidays, these next few photos are from “InFUNity” in 360 mall. It’s a kid’s paradise… complete with hanging obstacle courses, roller coasters, and indoor rock climbing walls. (Yes, Emily, we can come here to play when you visit.)
I was so tempted to join the kids on the rock wall!
Sean and I just couldn’t refuse documenting this bastardization of Western culture. The Native American totem next to the cowboy’s horse… *sigh*
Lastly, in 360 mall, they have Dale Chihuly pieces!!!
Can you believe it? Dale Chihuly is a famous Seattle glass artist, who is world-renowned. He’s the one who did the glass sculptures in the entrance of the Kohl Center. I never in all my life thought I’d see a Chihuly sculpture in Kuwait. Click on the link of his name above to read more about the installations. He was apparently commissioned to create two works; one of the sun and one of the moon.
There you have it, the first few days of our Eid break. It’s been really lovely and relaxing. We’ve seen parts of Kuwait we never knew existed, and spent time with people we’ll never forget.
Stay tuned, for later this week you will be treated with the following tales…
– Our visit to the Iraq border
– Desert Camping!
– The Saudi Arabia border
– The tallest point in Kuwait, Mutla Ridge