Monthly Archives: May 2013

Two Weeks In Kuwait Through My Eyes

Happy May everyone! And by May, I mean one way away from June. I can’t believe how fast this year has flown by. That sounds cliche, I know, but within this month, I am no longer a second-year teacher and Sean and I will have been married two years now. How mind-blowing is that! I feel like it was just a few months ago that I was walking down the grassy green alter on our wedding day, and when I was nervously preparing lesson plans for my “first day” of school.

What do you learn in two years? Would you consider me a different person? Sean is twenty-five and and I am twenty-four. Are we more mature than our college selves? I think we live a less spartan lifestyle, and we laugh when we say things like, “in this household”, realizing that we ARE a household, a family. The two of us.

Regardless, do I know where I’m going and what the next two years will hold? Absolutely not. And I hope I can never say that I do.

Anyways, this blog post is to catch you up on this month in Kuwait. May was a fun month of exploring, dining out, and celebrating the end of the school year. As of right now, we have next week of final exams, then school is over. Sean and I fly out of Kuwait June 9th for Chicago. That means I have to get as much Kuwait culture in as possible, and I’ve been pretty good at it.

IMG_5794Abby, Wyn and I went to the Ethiopian restaurant in Kuwait. Well, we’ve been going and will continue to go, once a week for the past month. I don’t know if you picked up on it, but Abby and I were absolutely obsessed with Ethiopian food! It is a vegetarian’s dream. Everyone had mentioned that there was an Ethiopian restaurant in Kuwait, and when we got back from Ethiopia I tracked it down the same week. Their food was fantastic, and they are so nice. It is a totally “feel good” place, with the Ethiopian colors painted on the walls, and the smell of spices, coffee, and frankensense in the air. Everyone in there was Ethiopian, and it felt like we were back in Addis Ababa.

IMG_5795This is my favorite dish, beyaynetu. It is a mix of vegetarian items that you eat with the fluffy sour bread, injera. No forks needed, you just scoop it up with the injera! The stuffed spicy pepper is my favorite.

If you live in Kuwait and are looking for this place, it’s called Al Habesha Ethiopian Restaurant.

Picture 1It’s in Hawally, near the Universal American School. I take the bus to get there, the #66, and get off at the mosque roundabout (in the upper right-hand corner of this map). Then I walk down Ibn Khaldoun street. Stay on the left side of the street, you’ll pass a McDonald’s, then a Sears, then a Subway (sounds like America, doesn’t it!?) which is part of a nicer looking mall called Zawya Complex.

Picture 2Here’s another, closer view. Notice that the restaurant is BEHIND the Zawya Complex (it has also been called Al Bassam Complex #3). When you get to the Subway, you need to wrap around the back of the building, and the restaurant is on the backside. There is actually a row of cool Ethiopian shops all in a row there! It’s now one of my favorite hidden gems of Kuwait.

IMG_5796Here we are waiting to board the bus home from Al Habesha.

Al Habesha delivers, too! Abby and I were really tired on Wednesday and had student-led conferences at 5:30, so we decided to have them deliver. Their delivery numbers are 6633 9296 or 6048 4303. I highly recommend it!

IMG_5785You can even buy their injera to go, so I ordered 10 pieces. (It’s only 1 KD for 10!) I learned how to make shiro (a chickpea flour and tomato puree), so now I order injera from Al Habesha and feast on my own shiro. Life is good! I will miss this when I leave Kuwait!

IMG_5932Since this post is a week through my eyes, I wanted to mention how much I love Zumba in Kuwait. It keeps me sane since there’s not a lot of outdoor recreation possibilities here. Sharon (on the left) has been my instructor for two years, and Nicole (on the left) just got her instructor’s license last summer, and teaches lessons from time to time. I love dancing with them! Sharon is leaving this year and moving to Mozambique, and Nicole is taking over instruction next year. She teaches at AIS, where the classes will be held. If you’re looking for great Zumba in Kuwait, I highly recommend dancing with these ladies!

IMG_5916I brought my camera to school one day, and wanted to snap a few photos before the year finishes and we head for home. This is a “hall way” near Sean’s classroom. Everything is open air, and has a really peaceful feeling. I’m going to miss it.

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Sean getting down to business in his classroom. He just screams fun humanities teacher, doesn’t he?

IMG_5919Sean’s classroom. He is such a great teacher. I love the visuals, the color, the student work. He inspires me.

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Time for another food adventure! Abby and I went to the Sri Lankan restaurant in Kuwait City. I love, love, LOVE Sri Lankan food, and ate at this place when my mom visited. It is really spicy, but a fun chance to mix it up when you get tired of hummus and flat bread.

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These are traditional Sri Lankan “snacks”, which you can eat on-the-go. When you sit down to eat in Sri Lanka, these are placed in heaping mounds on your table, and you eat your fill of whatever kinds you want, then you pay whatever you owe. They’re filled with all sorts of curries in the center. Curried hard boiled egg, curried potatoes, they’re delicious!IMG_5891

These are string hoppers in the back, and then I swear the front item is a shredded, seasoned coconut, but Abby disagreed. Post in the comments if you know what it is! Regardless, you eat it all with your fingers. Nom nom nom.

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I never understood why the restaurant was called the “Chandra Hotel”. But I like that they have a clear price list posted. I want to go back and try even more things.

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A meal is not complete with a spot of tea after wards. In all the countries I’ve been to in the Middle East, this is the typical way most people drink tea. They add cream (or condensed milk) to it, then you add sugar as you see fit. It’s delicious!

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A stormy afternoon in Kuwait. It’s not often that you see dark clouds in the sky, or swirling ones for that matter! Unfortunately they only provided a few sprinkles, not a torrential downpour like I dreamed.

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My last “adventure” of the past two weeks was when Sean and I took a trip to one of our favorite restaurants in Kuwait, Sabaidee Thai. It’s in Medan Hawally (or Salmiya?) and it’s a really well-priced Thai place with good food.

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Sean ordered sweet and sour chicken and I got shrimp panang curry. We had two sides of rice and two sodas for a total of 5 KD, which is really a great deal for good food and a nice atmosphere in Kuwait. We walk there, which makes for a very pleasant stroll. Sabaidee is actually marked on Google Maps, so look it up if you’re interested in visiting.

Well, there you have it. Two weeks in Kuwait. Do you think food is a central element to recreation here? I hope that changes when I move to Cambodia. As much as I consider myself a foodie, I want to develop hobbies that don’t involve visiting restaurants and taking pictures of food. On the flip side, when people talk to me about my blog, they say they love looking at all the cool restaurants I visit and foods I eat. I can’t wait to share the foods of Southeast Asia with you! The more people I tell about Cambodia, the more they gush about how much Sean and I will love it. We are toying with the idea of purchasing a car and, dare I say it in writing, a dog. It would be my dream to have a dog and a car, so as to travel around Cambodia for swimming in the waterfalls, canoeing, bicycling, weekend trips, island hopping (well, that would be without the car), all with a doggy. I want a dog so bad, it’s not even funny. However, it’s really difficult to have a traveling lifestyle when you’ve got a pet, so we have some decision to make in the near future. In Cambodia, the possibilities are endless!

I hope to post at least once more before we leave Kuwait. I will continue to carry my camera around with me. Post in the comments if there is a particular thing/activity/event/place/item you are interested in my blogging about, and I will make an effort to do so before we leave Kuwait!

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Categories: Kuwait | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Kuwait Worker’s Luncheon & Ethiopia: The Final Post

 

It’s 2pm on a Saturday afternoon, and I have mixed feelings about this weekend. On one hand, I feel homesick. Logging onto Facebook, I saw multiple posts from friends that are traveling to college graduations this weekend. The thought instantly made me nostalgic for graduation parties, barbecues, family gatherings, smiles, and group photographs. I’ve got less than a month left here in Kuwait, which I’m growing really sad about, but at the same time I cannot wait to return to green backyards and family dinners.

On the other hand, I feel really positive about a few things in Kuwait. I started my day off with Zumba at 10am; my friends Sharon and Nicole have the best Zumba classes in all of Kuwait! I average about 4 days a week of Zumba, and it really keeps me positive and active. When it’s 102 degrees outside (like right now), I try to avoid the sedentary air-conditioned life style as much as possible. We Zumba in the dance room at the school, so it’s really accessible and fun.

After Zumba we volunteered at the annual Worker’s Luncheon.  As you know, it takes a lot of people to keep an institution like a school running. Teachers are only a small fraction of the people who create a positive learning environment for the students; from cleaning the bathrooms, to washing the tables, to replenishing the coveted tissue boxes, I never can thank the workers at our school enough. (Not to mention Linda, who brews coffee in the staff lounge every morning…) We so often take these things for granted, not saying thank you or not stopping to think about the time and effort these people put in. Every year our school hosts a luncheon for the workers of our school. We ordered Mughal Mahal – the best Indian food in Kuwait – and decorated the tables in the canteen. It was so fun to say thank you to the people who help keep our school such a safe, happy, and healthy place.

I have been trying to take pictures during the last month of our time here in Kuwait, but I need to finish up the Ethiopia trip with you first. This is the final post on Ethiopia, where we drove back to Addis Ababa and then explored the city.
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On the way back to Addis, we stopped at a very special community called Awra Amba. Awra Amba is a community of 400 people in the Amhara region of Ethiopia. They believe that all men and woman are equal, thus they share labor equally. Men may cook and sew while women tend the cattle. Every child goes to school, and adults who are unable to read or write begin taking literacy classes. They even have a “home” for the elderly people of the community to go and be cared for. They have no religion, which is very unique in Ethiopia. Instead of a church, they have a large library, overflowing with books. They believe that all religions want people to do good things, which is what they do. They do believe in God, but belief God manifests him/herself through the good works of humans. The founder of the community, Zumra Nuru received an honorary doctorate from Addis Ababa University for his beliefs and the work he has done.

Watch this video for a great glimpse of live in Awra Amba: http://www.awraamba.com/

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The beliefs of the people in Awra Amba, coined by Zurma Nuru.

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The weaving building where both men and woman weave beautiful clothing and blankets for sale and personal use.

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A man at the loom.

 

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After we left Awra Amba, we drove back to Addis. I snapped this photo out the window of the van. Just a typical village in Ethiopia : )

 

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As we drove through the Blue Nile Gorge, we spotted these monkeys! I had never seen this type of monkey before.

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Our hotel in Addis Ababa, “Arequ” guesthouse, was very cute. The breakfast was fantastic, and all the rooms were really rustic. It didn’t feel like anywhere else we had stayed in Ethiopia at all! It was very relaxing.
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That night, we went out to a traditional Ethiopian restaurant, called “Yod Abbysinia”. There was traditional music and dancing all night long. I didn’t want to leave!
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Kyle and Abby’s massive plate of Beyaynetu. All four of us could probably have split it!

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Lunch in a park in Addis Ababa.

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Our last meal of beyaynetu before we head to the airport!

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We stopped at Demiss’ favorite cafe, “Tomoko”, which specializes in Ethiopian coffee. We all had an espresso, and I bought a bunch of beans to bring home with me. It was the best coffee ever!

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Hanging out with Demiss in Tomoko. I loved the coffee!

 

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Look at all the old cars in Ethiopia!

 

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Our final evening before we boarded the plane back to Kuwait was spent at “Garden Brau”. As much as we love Ethiopian culture, we couldn’t resist indulging in a few pints of homemade German-style beer before flying back to a dry country. They made all of their beer on site, and it was delicious! We had a really great time sitting and talking with Demiss, and reflecting on the perfection of our trip.

 

All right, now that I’ve fully posted about Ethiopia, I must say that Africa is in my blood. I desperately want to return. I loved so many things about it, that I would be so happy to live there for a little while. Abby and I have already found the Ethiopian restaurant in Kuwait, and eaten there five or six times since we’ve been back! I strongly encourage you to take any opportunity you may have to visit Ethiopia, or Africa for that matter. It will change your life.

Categories: Ethiopia, Kuwait | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ethiopia in Panoramas

Hello All! This is Sean.

I know I haven’t posted a blog since…well…in more than a year. And by posted a blog, I mean “A” blog. I’ve only posted one. So this is my second blog post since the inception of alohakuwait.

Well I finished putting together all of these panoramas from Ethiopia and I just had to share them. Ethiopia, especially the Simien Mountains, was just amazing. So there won’t be much text to this post, just eye popping,  jaw dropping pictures 🙂

The pictures will be in the chronological order of our trip. Here is the route that we took:

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Ethiopia was a lot larger than we anticipated and we had a few long car drives. But it was so worth it. Can you believe that there are 90 million people living in Ethiopia! In all of our driving, we never went a minute without see someone walking on the road.

So, Ethiopia Itinerary: Starting in Addis Ababa. lunch in Debre Markos. Stop at Portuguese Bridge and Jemma Gorge. Night in Bahir Dar. Morning Blue Nile Falls. Night in Gondar. Morning Gondar Castles, Baths. Night in Gondar. Morning drive to Simiens and start Hike. Two nights in the Simiens. Back to Gondar. Back to Addis Ababa. Night in Addis Ababa see Ethiopian Dancing. Day in Addis Ababa. Night fly back to Kuwait.

PLEASE READ: In order to get the full experience of each panorama, you must click on the picture to expand it larger. Otherwise, what is the point of a pan. So click on the pictures to see them larger 🙂

All right already, bring on the pictures!

JemmaGorgeJemma Gorge – our first stop on our way to the Portuguese Bridge.

JemmaGorge2Jemma Gorge

PortugueseBridgePortuguese Bridge – Abby and Kim on the Bridge built in the 1600’s by the Portuguese (Maybe. Apparently there is some controversy over when and who really built it).

BlueNileFalls1On our way to the Blue Nile Falls – It was the Saturday market day so people from villages sometimes a 5 hour walk away came to this town to buy and sell livestock and other goods. People were swimming naked in the Nile down in the gorge to the right.

BlueNileFalls3Blue Nile Falls – You can’t see it, but much of the water has been diverted to the left for a hydroelectric dam. This is rather unfortunate. If you google image “blue nile falls” you may be able to see what it used to look like. Apparently, they are building a new dam further down the river. Once this is finished (which should be soon based on everyone we talked to), they will get rid of the Blue Nile Falls Dam and these waterfalls will again be spilling water from the far left to the far right side of this picture.

Baths1Emperor Fasilides (Fasilidas) Baths – King in Ethiopia in the 1600’s. His Capital was Gondar. This was his summer home. The entire thing would be filled with water 10 feet high. They would divert a (not so) nearby river to fill the pool. They still do this yearly for a baptism festival. Our guide told us the kids sometimes climb the trees on the left and jump in.

CastleKim3Gondar Casltes – Built by King Fasilides and family. Each new generation built a new castle, right next to their parents and grandparents. Now it is a whole Castle Complex.

Castle3Gondar Castles

Castle2Gondar Castles

CastleKim7Gondar Castles – I forced Kim into a castle photo shoot. These trees had the most amazing purple flowers. And of course my beautiful wife.

CastleKim4Gondar Castles – with Kim.

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Gondar Castles – with Kim.

CastleKim8Gondar Castles – with Kim.

HotelViewGondar Street – From the roof balcony of our hotel.

KimSimien2Simien Mountains – with Kim.

SimienWaterfall1Simien Mountains – You can’t see it now, but during the rainy season there is a very tall waterfall coming down from the crevice in the center right.

Simiens2Simien Mountains

Simiens3Simien Mountains – In one direction there is sheer cliffs dropping 10,000 breathtaking feet. You turn 180 degrees and it’s flat plateau land with these strange palm-like trees.

ImetGogoFullPeopleImet Gogo, Simien Mountains – Here is an (almost) 360 degree view of the most beautiful peak in the Simien Mountains. It is called Imet Gogo.

ImetGogoKimImet Gogo, Simien Mountains – Here is just Kim from the panorama above.

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Imet Gogo, Simien Mountains

ImetGogoSeanPanImet Gogo, Simien Mountains – with Sean.

ImetGogoKim3Imet Gogo, Simien Mountains – with Kim. This picture was taken from the Imet Gogo peak. You can see Kim in the middle walking on the perilous path that you must take to get to the Imet Gogo peak. Both sides of the path were rather dangerous cliffs.

ImetGogo3Simien Mountains – On the left is the Imet Gogo peak. On the right out of screen is the next peak we were heading to, Inatye.

KimSimien3Simien Mountains – with Kim. Hiking around the backside of Inatye.

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Simiens10Simien Mountains – Here you can see the peaks. The peak 4th from the left is Inatye (13,353 feet). The peak 6th from the left is Imet Gogo (12,881 feet). We went up both in one hike…

KimSimien4Simien Mountains – with Kim. From our campsite in Chennek.

Simiens11Simien Mountains – with our fearless local guide.

Well there you have it. We loved Ethiopia.

Hope you enjoyed the pans!

~Sean

Categories: Ethiopia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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