Welcome back, and it’s less than a week away from Christmas here in Kuwait! I hope all of you are surrounded by holiday cheer, whether it comes in the form of snow-blanketed landscapes, the melody of familiar carols on the radio, or simply the glow in your heart that you will be reunited with loved ones soon enough. As I have titled this post, “Qatar: Part 3 & Anticipation”, one would be led to believe that I do have some anticipation in my Christmas-spirit; Sean and I are lucky to welcome my family (Dave, Betty, and Emily) to the middle east in a mere six days! I have been doing my research, packing my suitcase, and wrapping my presents for the reunion of the century.
When we took the position for Kuwait, we were sitting across from the high school principal over bacon and eggs in Iowa. From Saskatchewan, he spends his summers in Idaho and his winters, well, wherever the wind takes him. He has raised two children abroad, and his family now works in Indonesia. He told me, “It’s a tough pull between having roots and wings.”
Roots: My family. In Wisconsin. Our dogs. Fall leaves. Sledding. Hiking. Swimming. Eating. Lots of eating.
Wings: Kuwait. The World. Sean by my side and our eyes open wide. So much to see, to learn, to love. A rich life.
I will never choose between my roots and my wings, because without one or the other, I would either be buried in the dirt, or lost within the clouds.
Around Christmas time, there is something in the air, something that buries itself deep in the tissue of my heart. I am nervous, I am excited. My roots and my wings are joining one another. Few people can be so lucky. What a kaleidoscopic life we lead.
My above musings bring me to Sean’s favorite piece in the Qatar museum of Islamic art. It says, “Some among the sensitive and cultured people come to live where they find their heart’s desire. To some, strange places will become home, and sometimes some will stay home but find it strange.” Not difficult to understand why he loves it so much.
Another photo from the Qatar museum of Islamic art. What a beautiful facility. We spend upwards of four hours there.
Outside the museum, Sean and I found the perfect photograph. I love the skyscrapers in the background, the fountains in the foreground, and the surreal architecture.
Not to mention the strange weather that day; the overcast sky really provided for an interesting backdrop. It reminds me of a commercial for life insurance.
In front of the museum, there was a huge landscaped garden. The weather was terrible, so we didn’t stay outdoors for long.
The above two photos are outside the museum. (Recall that it was designed by I.M. Pei.) Certainly not the first thing that comes to mind when someone says, “Middle East”!
We walked along the corniche for a little bit, deciding what to do. We found this strange fountain of vessels. Qatar has a thing for making themselves look pretty in a very modest way : ) Kuwait could learn a thing or two from Qatar.
In case you were wondering what a Qatari police officer looked like, fret no longer. (Can you tell I wanted to keep walking?)
The Grand Mosque of Qatar. We ended up getting a private tour by a man who volunteered there; I picked his brain on all sorts of curiosities I had of the Muslim world! I learned so much, it was incredibly interesting. (Again, don’t you love Qatar’s architecture?!)
Again, another Qatar statue/fountain. Like Kuwait, Qatar is famous for their pearling history. They used to have pearl diving as a major revenue (before oil). Men would plug their nose, put leather caps on their fingers, slip into a protective knit sleeve, tie a weight around their ankle, and drop to the bottom of the ocean—holding their breath—and fill their bag up with oysters! Talk about a truly labor intensive luxury.
We decided it was time for coffee. This was at the old souq (again). We probably played a game or two of cribbage here… and I’m pretty sure I won…
Due to the poor weather, we decided to visit the mall, just to check it out. Like Dubai, there was an indoor ice skating rink in the middle of the mall! We walked around, had a cookie, and decided to move on. I’ve never been one for malls. Yes, the Middle East still has every brand name you have back home, it’s not that exciting. (Although it is convenient when I walk into Gap and know exactly which pair of jeans to buy!)
At the end of our trip, we had seen everything we wanted to see, ate all we could eat, and thought we were ready to write the next big travel guide to Qatar. Little did we know, there was this place called the “Qatar Cultural Village” (also known as “Katara”). We stumbled upon it when we asked a cab driver what his favorite place in Doha was. After debating whether or not it was worth the drive, we decided to spring for it, and spend the last two hours of our vacation seeing yet another new place.
In the photo above is the beach of the cultural village. Across the ocean is “The Pearl”, which is much like Dubai’s, “The Palm”. It’s a series of man-made islands. How many cranes can you count?!
A great statue at the cultural village. We swear this place is destined for great things. How can you not be with a statue like this? Perhaps I should clarify: The Qatar cultural village is partially a musical/performance venue, partially owned by private business, including a variety of restaurants, galleries, and one beaaaauuuutiful beach.
The view towards Doha. We enjoyed a cocktail at the hotel along the coast (during happy hour, of course. Otherwise it was waaaay out of our price range…) called the Intercontinental. I love the old fashioned boat in the foreground.
The ampitheater in the Cultural Village. (That’s me way down there!) I would LOVE to see a live show take place here! Apparently they have a philharmonic orchestra perform regularly, and there was an amazing light show over the last Eid.
As the sun went down, the colors got very vivid. This view is from the top of the amphitheater. (It’s the biggest amphitheater in all of the Middle East!)
As we were on our way out of the Cultural Village, we kept encountering all sorts of surprises. What an epic door, huh? You would never see something like this back in Wisconsin. The place was eerily empty, it was perfect for wandering around and exploring.
There you have it. Shortly after we left the Cultural Village, we boarded the plane back to Kuwait. Our impromptu trip to Qatar was fun; it had laughter, excitement, surprises, and the relaxation of having NO itinerary for three days. Would I go back to Qatar? Perhaps. Would I like to work there? I think so. It was a beautiful snippet of yet another facet of the Middle East.
Next up, we fly to Jordan in SIX days! I can barely contain myself. The blogs will keep on rolling, and time will keep passing. I hope you are living and loving life. During this holiday season, I miss and love all of you. I wish you all the best.
Please post me your address if you want a postcard from lovely Kuwait!
Kim & Sean