Greetings from the balmy temperatures of Kuwait! As it is March here, we’ve had a steady increase in temperatures. January was frigid with temperatures dropping into the high 40’s. February was a bit nicer, with temps getting into the 50-60’s in the afternoons. Now, as March begins, it’s getting WARM during the day, reaching into the mid 70’s! I have to admit, my concept of “cold” is severely skewed; what we’ve become used to here is much different than the below zero temperatures of Wisconsin. I have grown accustomed to wearing long sleeves and pants when temperatures are in the 60’s and 70’s, whereas in Wisconsin people would happily wear a sundress or shorts and a t-shirt. Now I just need to spend two years in Antarctica and see how I acclimatize to those temperatures!
Today’s post is considered a “mini-post” as it consists of snapshots from a few weekends here in Kuwait. All of the pictures will be from different days in January. Each picture is a mini-story, in a way. I hope you enjoy them : )
The last time we traveled was to Bangkok for the job fair, and the next time will be for spring break in April. Therefore, we’ve got a lovely few months to explore and document our last semester in Kuwait. It’s all gone by so fast! We’ve only got three months left. (All of March, all of April, and all of May. We leave on June 9.)
It is my goal to share as much of Kuwait as I can with you given the time that I have. Let’s get started!
My girlfriend Abby and I took a trip to the Friday Market to look for a gift. (Remember: The Friday Market is an open-air flea market, a series of independently-run shops selling everything from generators to shoes to perfume.)
She fell in love with the framed pictures in this guy’s shop, and I fell in love with all the colors! The picture reminds me of Alice in the rabbit hole.
I always want to buy a framing of Arabic script, but know that they are religious phrases, which would make me feel strange to display in my house. I wish I could have someone walking around with me to translate all of the art so I could pick one where I liked the message!
A few of my friends and I visited the AWARE Center one weekend for a traditional Kuwaiti foods night. AWARE stands for “Advocates for Arab-Western Relations” and they do an amazing job of making people feel welcome in Kuwait. I have been to a few of their events before; they host everything from dinner socials to trips to the Grand Mosque. Everyone who works there is incredibly passionate about welcome newcomers to Kuwait and debunking their myths and questions. It’s a great time!
A sample plate from the AWARE dinner. The small plate on the left is a breakfast dish consisting of rose-water flavored noodles and scrambled egg. The woman who served it said that it is made for newlyweds to eat in the mornings after their wedding. It was really tasty and sweet, I definitely would eat it for breakfast!
On the larger plate I couldn’t eat many of the dishes as they had lamb, beef, or chicken in them, so this photo is a picture of my friend’s plate. The only thing I had from the dinner that is pictured on this plate is the “saj” wrap, which is a sandwich eaten throughout the Arab world, and the rice at the top of the photo. Everywhere you go in Kuwait you can get “saj”; it’s a delicious thin, eggy flatbread rolled up with all sorts of fillings and then toasted on a giant hot stone. In my saj sandwiches I get olives, tomatoes, cheese, and zaatar (an oregano seasoning mixture popular in the Arab world). Yum yum!
Another weekend we went with some friends of ours to an open mic night in Kuwait. That’s right! We actually found out about a place that had open mic! It was a blast. It was in a fancy shisha bar—of which these lights were hung on the ceiling. The open mic was a great time; there were poets, spoken word artists, guitarists, singers, you name it. There were a lot of Lebanese people, Phillipino, even a girl who flew up from Saudi to present her poetry! She was so amazing, Abby asked her for her website. Here it is if you’re interested in reading progressive female poetry by a young Saudi Arabian woman: http://7alaabdullah.com/
Shisha and fancy bottled water at open mic night. The glowing carafes were just torturing me; begging to chill a nice white wine instead of a bottle of water… Oh well. What they didn’t have in terms of beverages they sure made up for in atmosphere!
I think even if Sean COULD order a beer he would still get a milkshake. Actually, I don’t “think”, I know. It’s happened many times. That man’s got the biggest sweet tooth I’ve ever met. (Aside from my sister, of course.) Gotta love him : )
Abby and I at open mic night!
Okay, another ‘mini story’. This apartment building is near my house, and I always walk past their “Thug Lite Life” graffiti and wonder, why does this exist? What crazy kids live here, living a “thug lite life”? I had to take a picture of it.
There’s nothing spectacular about this place, only that it’s another example of how life is different here than in America. This is a “stationary store”, which is where you go to buy your school supplies, gift wrapping materials, even watercolor and crayon sets. I just find it interesting that everything is compartmentalized; you seldom go to a “buy everything in one place” store. You end up getting your things from separate sellers in your neighborhood.
Can you spot the sneaky spy? I love snapping photos of cats in peculiar places in Kuwait. There’s certainly no shortage of them!
I have lots of friends asking me how to use the bus in Kuwait, so I took this picture as an example for them. You find a bus stop, which looks like this. Then you check the numbers on the sign—this bus stop services route 66 and route 999. Then you get out your 250 fills and wait.
The 66, if you pick it up opposite Shaab park, will take you to Marina Mall and the International Clinic, both in Salmiya. There’s lots to do along this route, just get off whenever you see a place you’d like to check out. Route 999, if you board it across from Shaab park, will take you through Salmiya as well, but on a different road. You could take it all the way to the Science Center if you want, but I normally use it for Al Seef hospital.
If you get on the bus on the other side of the street, the side closer to the McDonald’s and Shaab park, the 66 will actually take you to the Friday Market! The 999 will take you to the Old Souk in Kuwait City.
Sometimes these signs aren’t labeled with the routes, but you can always check to see if you’re confused!
There you have it; a few mini-stories about life in Kuwait. I’ve got lots more adventures to share with you before we board another plane for spring break, so stay tuned for more Kuwait secrets!