Welcome back! Happy fall to those of you living in a region with four seasons! I can only assume the color of the leaves, the crisp air, and the donning of sweaters must make you feel incredibly cozy. Here in Kuwait, it’s currently 91 degrees. Tomorrow it is supposed to reach 105. As you can imagine, this makes weekend walking excursions quite difficult. “Fall” here doesn’t begin until mid-October; the temperatures will drop to around 75 – 80, and as the months progress it will actually fall into the 50’s and 60’s! It is during that weather that I hope to get outside, snap more photos, and really show you all the ins and outs of Kuwait.
Regardless, we make due. We walk early in the mornings, and when we do go out during the day, we just walk a little bit slower. Sounds crazy, I know, but you begin to tolerate the heat. Tonight we are walking to a Chinese restaurant with our neighbors, which I hope to document for my blog. What awaits you today, though, are a series of pictures I took last weekend. As Sean and I ran errands, I looked at the little things, like the Western signs, the architecture of the buildings, and the places we visit on a daily basis. I hope you enjoy.
Our walk began with a trip past our school. We had to pick up the public bus on a street near the ocean, so we walked through our school’s parking lot. The picture above doesn’t do our school justice, but you can see how crazy the construction is here! Every time we arrive in school, someone is painting the walls, fixing the air-conditioning, or moving a pile of bricks. You can see construction debris on the right-hand side of the picture. That never leaves the front of the school.
This reminds me of an ideological shift that we’ve witnessed here in the Middle East. Sure, the outside of our school looks very bare, but the inside is absolutely beautiful. There are wall-sized murals, photographs of students, flags from every country, and an open courtyard. However, all of the buildings tend to be under-decorated on the outside. People don’t judge a building by the exterior. It is that way with EVERYTHING; malls, Kuwaiti homes, apartments, restaurants, you name it. Just look at all of my pictures on all my blogs – have you EVER seen a series of opulent and showy buildings? But the interior is ALWAYS very well-done. You just can never see it from the outside. The connection I make – stay with me here – is to the Islam. People dress modestly, protecting their exterior from stranger’s views, and save the beauty for their family. I once spoke to a student about this, and she said, “I wear hijab because I am confident with who I am and what I look like. I am firm in my beliefs. People think I’m stuck up because I dress so modestly, but in reality, I don’t need to prove myself to anyone; I love how I look, and I control who gets to see that.” She was in eighth grade. I love her confidence. Interesting, huh?
Anyways, on our walk to the bus stop…
But you never expected to see a Taco Bell in Kuwait! It’s sadly the only good Mexican food I have found so far… there is no Mexican population here, believe it or not 😉
When my dad and sister were here, this place was their haven. Sean still tries to convince me to stop there whenever we pass by. It’s like a Krispie Kream, with all sorts of decorated delicacies. Kuwaitis love their donuts!
When we got off the bus stop, my first errand was to go to the store I buy my coffee from. I have blogged about this place before, King’s Coffee, and it is absolutely stellar. I snapped a picture of Sean in the parking lot because it is so crazy to see a city that has been built up so quickly. Did you notice the giant sand lot between the photographer and my subject? There are sand lots everywhere! It really reminds you we are living in the desert.
Okay, so this place has been here ever since we arrived in Kuwait. I always bike past it, and it is never open. I don’t know whether to be disappointed or thankful. I mean, what is an Italian Circus anyways? And why is it in Kuwait?!
The view of the Italian Circus from the other side of the parking lot/sand lot area. Remember what I said about the buildings? Also, the reason it is so deserted is because Sean and I were out on a Friday morning. Friday is the holy day in Islam, so it’s like our Sunday mornings; people sleep in, have brunch at home, and take a while to get out into the city. We love to go out on Friday mornings because it’s so quiet!
Ahhhh, the “bakala”. (Say it: buh-KAH-luh.”) This place is the Walgreen’s of the Middle East. I know it looks like Chuckie Cheese is having a garage sale, but really, this place has EVERYTHING. There is a bakala on every block, and sometimes there’s two or three. It’s where you go to buy you milk, eggs, paper, shampoo, canned vegetables, soda, lotion, rubber bands, and blow-up toys. I send Sean to the bakala for me when I’m cooking and I am missing a key ingredient like onions, tomatoes, or lettuce. Some bakalas are better than others, however. Some only carry packaged goods, and some, like my personal favorite, is like a mini-grocer. He’s got fresh cilantro, basil, and mint, he’s got arugula, lettuce, and chives, he’s got fresh olives and feta cheese. Sometimes I like just to stop in a balaka, stare at the walls stocked with goods, and see if there’s anything new I’ve never tried before.
This is one of my favorite things about the Middle East (as well as Sri Lanka, and I assume the rest of Asia). There are juice stands everywhere! In every country we’ve been to, you can walk anywhere and find a juice stand where they peel your avocados, mangos, melons, you name it, right in front of you, and pop it into a blender. It is one of my favorite snacks to get when I’m on the go. They make everything there completely from scratch! They also have soft-serve ice cream, and create the most amazing layered drinks of ice cream, fruit, smoothie, whipped cream, you name it.
As delicious as the smoothies and juices are, I have never understood the female names for them. In the mood for a “chocolama”? How about a “Britney”?
Sean standing next to the smoothie place, which is in Salmiya. We go to Salmiya frequently, which is only a 15-minute bus ride from our apartment in Maidan Hawally. This is the main street in Salmiya, and I love the trees that line the median. Marina Mall is in Salmiya, which has everything you could possibly imagine an American mall has.
While we were waiting for a friend of ours in the mall, Sean and I decided to split some ice cream. Pinkberry is the creme de la creme when it comes to sweets in Kuwait; it’s frozen yogurt with the most decadent flavors and toppings.
After Marina mall, and to conclude the day’s excursion, I swing by my friend’s apartment. On the way there, I found two scoundrels in the trash can. Like mother like daughter? Hehe!
Ahhhh, the Port Cafe. This place is our favorite outdoor restaurant in Souq Sharq. Souq Sharq is a mall in Kuwait City, right along the Gulf. You can go into the mall and shop, but there are also great port-side cafes like this one where you can smoke shisha, dine on hummus, or even get a burger and fries.
Exciting news! We have befriended a fabulous couple! This is Abby and Kyle, and they are new to Kuwait. They hail from Michigan, and are our age. This is their first year teaching. We absolutely love hanging out with them, and have so much fun. It’s also cool to show them Kuwait for the first time; it makes me realize I actually DO know some cool stuff about Kuwait!
This is our friend Eric, who was with us last year in Kuwait. We absolutely love spending time with him as well. He is from Chicago. (I know, our party consisted of Wisconsinites, Michiganites, and a Chicagoan. We need to diversify outside of the Midwest!) I love trying to capture pictures of Eric when he smokes shisha; we try to make them look as dragon-esque as possible 🙂
This is looking out over the marina at Souq Sharq. I love the old-fashioned boat in the foreground and the buildings in the back!
Similarly, looking inward from the marina onto Souq Sharq itself. We love to walk along the promenade of the marina. It’s one of the few places in Kuwait where cars aren’t allowed! We love the quiet, peaceful sound of the boats floating in the marina, and the absence of the smell of exhaust!
Kids love water. We have found fountains like this all over Kuwait. Kids just love to play with the jets of water, getting completely soaked. (We may have walked through ourselves, dodging the spray, just for fun!)
Well, this concludes today’s blog on a typical weekend in Kuwait. I wanted to add a picture of us, which we took for Back To School Night. We got all dressed up, and realized that we don’t have many nice portraits of ourselves. Therefore, we sat down, took a picture, and proudly display it for you to see. We’re the same-old Kim & Sean, even over here in the sandbox of Kuwait 🙂 Take care, see you next time!
(Sneak Peek: I got a request to do a blog on the transportation of Kuwait. I have been taking pictures of the good, the bad, and the ugly of Kuwait cars, streets, and everything in between. Stay tuned!)