Posts Tagged With: kuwait city

Ma’a Salama Habibti! Kuwait ‘Till We Meet Again.

Our apartment is empty. I don’t mean, “it’s really clean” empty. I mean, “the movers came today and there is literally nothing inside our apartment except a suitcase” empty. Our exodus from Kuwait is officially underway.

I am sitting on a bare mattress, sipping water out of a plastic cup, waiting for Sean to come home from school so we can go out for dinner. We fly back to Chicago tomorrow night, so this is our last leisurely evening in Kuwait.

The last exams were a week or so ago, and we’ve had this week for professional development and closing up our classrooms and apartments. Sean and I have used this week to make sure we accomplish a few things:

1. Leave our classrooms nice and pretty for the new staff members replacing us.
2. Ship 2 cubic meters of our life away in boxes… Which will meet us in Cambodia, inshallah.
3. Eat as much hummus and felafel as we can stomach.
4. Have as many board game nights as our friends can tolerate.
5. Say our “See you laters” to the lovely people we’ve worked with in Kuwait.
6. Get new pages in our passports.
7. Close our bank accounts.
8. Sell all the IKEA furniture we’ve acquired over the past two years.
9. Stare starry-eyed at pictures of Southeast Asia on Google.
10. Bug Sean to get a dog when we arrive in Cambodia. (Wait, that’s only on my to-do list…)
11. Visit the Old Souk one last time to sample dates, savor baklava, and smoke shisha.
12. Appreciate the Middle East for all that makes it the Middle East.

We’ve done pretty well the past week, aside from the raging desire to get home to see our families. We’ve had a lot of fun, and I’ve managed to take lots of pictures. This will be the last blog I write from our home in Medan Hawally, Kuwait. I hope you enjoy.

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The school has an annual farewell dinner for all the staff to get together one last time. It is really formal and incredibly delicious. This year it was held at the new Jumeirah Messila Beach Hotel.

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Did you know I had such fine looking friends? I will miss Abby and Sharon so much. Abby (on the left) will be returning to Kuwait next year, but Sharon (on the right) is moving to Mozambique! We are definitely planning on visiting her in the near future…

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Kyle and Sean are quite the refined gentlemen.

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After the dinner Abby, Eric and I couldn’t resist exploring the hotel. It only opened a few weeks prior, and we heard it was lavishly decorated. The elevators sure were… opulent… in a Willy Wonka kind of way.

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Going up…

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This was the strangest room we found. It was set up like a diwaniya, the men’s social room in Kuwaiti culture, but it looked like a giant fish tank. I half expected it to flood with water while we were walking through it!

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This was the women’s bathroom sign at the hotel. You’d never see this back in the States. Don’t you love the mystique?

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On another note, I snapped this photo while driving through downtown Kuwait City. It was a gorgeously sunny day and made the whole scene seem like we were somewhere else. Recently it’s been really dusty here in Kuwait, and when I say dusty I mean that the dust is so prevalent in the air that it actually grits your teeth!

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I have no shame. Abby and I ate Ethiopian again this week. I even got some injera to take home. I have a problem.

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For the first time in Kuwait, we ordered Ethiopian coffee. It was a staple whenever we ate out in Ethiopia, but we’d never ordered it at the restaurant. It is tradition to burn frankincense when coffee is served, which makes the whole ordeal incredibly cozy and relaxing. We sat there over an hour sipping coffee and playing cards.

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Another thing on my bucket list was to make it down to Fahaheel one more time. (Yes, say it out loud. You know you want to. And it really is just as awkward to say out loud as you are imagining right now.) On a particularly dusty day we boarded the bus and made the thirty-minute bus ride down to the other big city in Kuwait. Notice the face mask on the man boarding the bus… It was that dusty!

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Sharon and Abby being troopers on the bus.

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The restaurant we had lunch in had a killer view over the Gulf. The windows were disgustingly dirty, but I snapped the bird’s eye view pictures anyways.

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That’s Al Kout mall on the right, the main mall in Fahaheel.

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Now, I didn’t have rose-colored glasses on because it was my last weekend in Kuwait, but this serusly was the BEST Indian food I have ever had. In my life. Ever. What you are looking at is a “thali”, or Indian lunch platter. I am addicted to them, every where I go. However, most thalis only have six items or so, and normally are a thicker curry, a vegetable, a thinner soup, a sweet item, and some chutney. Always rice and bread. This thali was the “Friday Special” and was only $7.00. I had died and gone to heaven. Not to mention it was a vegetarian restaurant, so I could chow down without having to worry about any mystery meat…

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We made a few shopping stops, and while Abby was in the checkout line at Centerpoint, Sharon and I browsed their fashion catalogue. Who knew chastity belts were now the latest fashion trend?

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Sharon used to visit Fahaheel a lot, so she knew where to find the cool antique stores. This guy had the best souvenirs I’d ever found in Kuwait! (If you haven’t determined by now, Kuwait isn’t a country known for souvenirs… Or much of a tourism industry…)

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Sharon and Abby picking out some hidden gems.

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We then visited some of Sharon’s favorite vendors, the “Bling Bling Brothers”. Seriously. They gave me a key chain that said, “The Bling Bling Brothers, Faroz and Hatim” with their cell phone numbers at the bottom. Needless to say, they were great salesmen!

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Sharon needed to do some work with her apartment, so we stopped by the hardware store on our way home. Not your typical Home Depot…

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Just as we were leaving the city, we saw a father with the most adorable sons we’d seen. He happily let me take their picture, while the boys posed like the true warriors they totally thought they were. Their dad said they were dressed up for a wedding. Beautiful, huh?

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Abby’s cat, Asha.

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Well, we finished our weekend with a heated game of Trivial Pursuit. (Boys against girls. Always.)

I’ve never been good at good byes, so I won’t torture myself – or you – in trying to write one for my blog. Just know that alohakuwait is far from over! Alohakuwait will continue to bring you the most fabulous photos and stories from around the world, just like always. I wrestled with changing the name from alohakuwait, but it is so perfect I couldn’t bring myself to recreate my blog. I kind of like having the history of where we’ve lived follow us as we continue to blog around the world. And besides, “aloha” is fitting no matter where you go. : ) Hopefully I learn more Khmer in Cambodia than I did Arabic in Kuwait…

This summer I will blog about the 101 things to do in Kenosha, the best microbrews of the Midwest, and the gnarliest hikes in the Beartooth Mountains. Kuwait doesn’t get to have all the fun, you know.

It’s been real. Stay tuned to alohakuwait. I’ll see you soon.

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

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!

Categories: Kuwait | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Kuwait: Round Two. Let The Feast Begin!

As a child, I have a vague memory of a scene from a movie where one of the main characters cries, “Let the feast, BEGIN!” This scene, recalled only in auditory recognition, somehow has always symbolized moments of pure, superfluous, excessive fun. Thus, when deciding what to title this blog, my first blog back in the desert, in the Middle East, in the land of hummus, Hummers, and humid clouds of dust, I thought to myself, “Well, I’m back in Kuwait. Let the feast, BEGIN!”
After toting my camera around for three weekends out and about in Kuwait, I finally felt ready to create a blog. It’s daunting, blogging. There’s a desire to produce work simply so that people can read it, but there must be a high caliber of quality within what I produce. I could just take pictures of everything I eat, or of every pair of shoes I wear. Of what other people wear as shoes. Or what other people eat. But I digress. My point is, that I try to capture a hodgepodge of what Sean and I really “do” over here in the Middle East. Sounds silly, I know, but if I were reading my blog, I would want to know where I go on the weekends, what I do for fun, and yes, occasionally what I eat and what other people wear as shoes.
Do you have a request for a blog topic? Post it below! Let me know what you want to read about! The possibilities are endless… kind of. There are pretty strict censorship laws here. All right. Onto the photographs and stories. Let the feast begin!

 

I snapped this picture the first weekend we were back in Kuwait. It was taken downtown in Kuwait City, on a particularly humid evening. Maybe you can see that in the amount of clouds in the sky. I loved the way the palm trees made everything look so lush! Not to mention the unique architecture that always seems to dot the Kuwait skyline…

 

The reason for this evening’s trip into Kuwait City was twofold. Since Kuwait City is about a fifteen minute drive from where we live, we normally either carpool there together, or take public transportation. This evening we went with our friends Dave, Lacie, and Eric. We made a pit stop at the fabric souk so that Lacie could get some clothing of her tailored. As you can see, ‘Silkland’ offers quite a variety for the savvy costumer…

 

As we waited outside the tailor’s shop in the fabric souk, I looked around in the shops. I was amazed to see the number of men working in a given fabric shop. They were all there, sewing, darning, repairing. All in a row. It made me feel a bit guilty for complaining about the length of time it takes the tailor to complete my requests… and not to mention the price I pay. (Obviously not enough!)

 

After completing our stop at the tailor’s, we exited the fabric souk. It was hopping on a Thursday night!

 

However, before we left, I caught a “wardrobe malfunction” on one of the mannequins. How scandalous!

 

As we drove from the fabric souk to the restaurant, I snapped a photo out of the car of the Liberation Tower. I loved how eerie it looked with the moon and clouds… This tower was constructed after Kuwait was liberated from the Iraq invasion in 1990. It is now open once a year for people to visit and remember.

 

The restaurant we ended up at was a place called “Slider Station,” and couldn’t have been more strangely American. After spending three months in the States, it was strange to encounter a gourmet burger place. Not to mention a non-politically correct burger place. Check out the “Obama Burger”…

 

Don’t worry, it wasn’t just ANY old burger place. Nothing in Kuwait is ever “any old” anything. Slider Station was fancy-pants, burgers on a conveyor belt, fancy. I snuck up onto the second floor, so you can see the conveyor belt that brings your burgers out for you. They were mini-burgers, so you would typically order between 3-5 burgers to make a meal. For the vegetarian, I had an “Italian Felafel” burger. I know, I know, I don’t get it either. Regardless, it was surprisingly delicious! The way the place looked, you’d expect everyone to be sipping cosmos and relaxing to lounge music. But don’t worry, those aren’t liquor bottles in the center of the belt. They’re bottles of hot sauce. Bottles of hot sauce on display that you could not use. I was a wee bit disappointed about the mystery of the “too chic to be eaten, only for display hot sauces”. Oh, Kuwait…

 

Here come the burgers! A magical, delicious, conga-line of consumerism…

 

Once again, I overestimated my blogging ability for tonight. I had originally uploaded 28 pictures, with the intent to make each and every pixel come alive with tales woven especially for you. Alas, all of those tales must be suspended for another night. What a thing to celebrate! There are hundreds of stories that await!

In our next episode, you will see what a “Britney” and a “Brook” shake is, our friend Eric will become a fire-breathing dragon, and the Italian Circus comes to Kuwait…

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

February In Kuwait: Field Trips, Puppies, and Birthdays

In the window between winter break and spring break, the “slums” of the winter months is pretty much universal. (In the northern hemisphere at least!) Everyone in Kuwait described February as being the most difficult month to make it through; tests, reporting periods, no traveling, and rainy days are no fun in any country. However, I hope I don’t stand alone when I say that February was an *amazing* month! I thoroughly enjoyed this past month even if we didn’t travel anywhere outside of the country. I had the opportunity of accompanying my sixth-graders on a field trip, celebrating a friend’s birthday, and sharing the joy of a new addition of our friends Megan and Andrew, who recently adopted (they claim they are only ‘fostering’) a new puppy! (Puppy is not quite accurate; as you will see it is a one-year old German Shepard, but it’s demeanor and appearance still feel very ‘puppy-like’ to me.)

I also began attending Zumba classes, offered by a friend of mine, Sharon. What is Zumba? It’s a high-intensity workout to contemporary Latin and hip hop music. If I can’t dance in public in Kuwait, then I will join a dance class! I have been loving Zumba—it’s everything I want in a workout and is really motivating. I forgot how much I truly do love to dance 🙂 If you are unfamiliar with Zumba, look it up on Google. I think you will be fairly surprised!

Sean and I have also been attending game nights frequently with a few of our friends. We have found other cribbage aficionados here in Kuwait! I had quite the victory yesterday in a four-player game with friends; it helped make Kuwait feel even more like home.

My sixth graders went on a field trip in the beginning of the month to the National Museum, the planetarium, and the Sadu house. The Sadu house is a unique cultural display of the weaving of the Bedouin people. Sean and I were so focused on snapping cute pictures of our students that we didn’t make time to photograph any of the weaving! I’d like to show you a few pictures from the field trip, so you can get an idea of what our students are like, where we took our field trip, and what a day in the life of Mr. Miller and Mrs. Kriege is like! In the below photos I have specifically not shown any students’ faces for privacy reasons, but I hope you can still get the feel for how lucky Sean and I are!

Here I am, on the left, with my students as they are about to watch a video on weaving at the Sadu house. We have uniforms at our school, as you can see. Also, notice how WELL BEHAVED our students are! By the end of the field trip I might have said something different, but all things considered they are wonderful students and very well mannered. The Sadu house is free and open to the public. If you are interested in weaving and textiles, it is a wonderful place to visit. I think the main thing my students got out of it is that there was a cool video of camels, and a Diwaniya they could sit in. (A socializing room predominantly used by men in traditional culture, but open to everyone in the museum.) It was very educational nonetheless.

While we were waiting for the planetarium, we took a little bit of time exploring one of the dhows. If you have read my earlier posts then you will be familiar with the dhow, but to those of you who are new to Aloha Kuwait, a dhow is a traditional Arab sailing ship. They were used for many things from pearling, fishing, transporting fresh water, and transportation. You do still see dhows in the harbor along the gulf, which I find absolutely fascinating!

Here we are approaching the planetarium. It was a cute half-hour presentation on the solar system. The students really enjoyed it! The planetarium is also open to the public, but is not very well advertised. I wish more people knew about such resources in Kuwait!

After we toured the museum and planetarium, it was lunch time. We took the buses to a nearby park where the students relaxed for half an hour. I could have stayed there all day!

Yes, there is Valentine’s Day even in Kuwait! Although our Student Leadership Council (SLC) calls this project “Friendship Flowers”, which you can buy for 1 KD on Valentine’s Day to give to someone. This is Sean’s classroom where he placed the flowers on his eighth grade students’ desks before they came in. Notice how the desk in the foreground has FIVE flowers on it! Someone clearly has quite a fan base!

This is THE highlight of my month—Megan and Andrew’s new member of the family, ‘Bella’. They are fostering Bella until she finds a forever home, but they fear she will become too dear to give up. She was found on the streets of Kuwait, but has all of her shots. She is microchipped, but without an owner’s name on the microchip, which I don’t understand at all. She also is very clean and fit; no fleas. She is underfed, but is amazingly well behaved. She doesn’t jump up on people, doesn’t bark, doesn’t beg at the dinner table. She sleeps on the doggie bed, too. I have deduced that at one point she had pretty caring, disciplined owners, but no one will ever know. If only dogs could talk…

She is so precious! It makes me want a dog… but it is quite the commitment when you’re living internationally…

Lastly, we went to a birthday party this last weekend for our friend, France. She is French-Canadian and turned 25. I jumped at the opportunity to bake her a birthday cake, which turned out surprisingly well. Everyone loves cake on their birthday 🙂 A good time was had by all.

At this point I must bid you, dear reader, farewell until my next post. I hope you enjoyed learning about the not-so-frumpy-February 🙂 We are off to Sri Lanka in March, but who knows what adventures we may have before then! Stay tuned!

Categories: Kuwait | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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