Sample weekend

Lots of people are curious about what our weekends might look like. While chasing camels and fighting our way through sandstorms may sound glamorous, we have yet to do either. Here’s what Friday looked like:

10am – woke up
11am – willingly subjected ourselves to Bodypump at our new gym. Ouch.
12pm – staggered to some couches in the lobby and surfed the net for an hour.
2pm – met up with friends to taxi to one of the malls nearby.
5pm – geocached our first international hide
6pm – grabbed a few things from the grocery store on our way home
7pm – made and subsequently ate fantastic pizza on leftover Iranian bread.


Saturday

8am – woke up
8:45am – hailed a cab and went to the Grand Mosque
9:15-11:30 – toured the Grand Mosque
12pm – cabbed back, had lunch w/ a friend (hummus w/ veggies & bread)
1pm-4:30 – spent the afternoon on the beach at the club.
5pm – grocery shopped.
6pm – made dinner.

It was an awesome weekend, one we hope to repeat many times over. I guess when you think about it, some of the things we did we couldn’t have done in the US, for better or worse. Either way, for those of you thinking we’re spending the next few years in some third-world country, rest assured we are not šŸ™‚

Update (from Lissa): if you didn’t notice, our weekends in Kuwait are Friday & Saturday. Friday is the holy day in Muslim culture (like Sunday for Christians) so naturally they have the day off. After living in culture with Saturday/Sunday weekends for 27+ years, this change has completely screwed up my sense of time. I usually have no idea what day it is and how many more days til the weekend comes:)

Our first hours in Kuwait

Sorry for the hiatus! Students came back to school on Tuesday and we’ve been busy! I (lissa) am currently teaching 3 sections of French (grade 9, 10 & 11) until the new teacher arrives. She’ll be here late Sunday night but I’ll probably be teaching for her all next week too.

So I told you about how we got to Kuwait…but we did actually leave the airport šŸ™‚ All of the new staff met the admin & their families on the other side of the alcohol scanners. We all labeled our bags with our building number and apartment number so the porters could load them on the appropriate trucks. They had water & snacks for us while we got organized and waited for the buses. We were exhausted and it was quite overwhelming to be surrounded by so many new faces. We were incredibly surprised at how BUSY the airport was after midnight on a Friday night. We finally boarded the buses with the other people in our apartment. Now that we’ve been here a couple weeks, I don’t even really remember that bus ride in…it seems so long ago!

When we got to our apartment building we met our building host (Deb is in her 2nd year here and is the Middle Years Programme Coordinator) and she gave us keys to our apartments. We waited (and waited) for the truck to arrive with our luggage, but it gave us time to ask Deb questions about everything we could think of.

When we finally got up into our apartment (we’re on the 7th floor of 17, 2 apartments on each floor) we were a little surprised at how big it was…but also howĀ sparseĀ it was. We were told it was furnished and it was…but with much less furniture than we had expected. It’s a two bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment with an open entrance/living room/dining room and a kitchen.

We’re allowed to do pretty much anything we want to our apartments. Our unit was not repainted after the last tenant left. If we pick out colors before the school repaints for us, they’ll do the painting how we want it which is really exciting! It’ll be nice to have some color and make the place our own. During the last 2 weeks, we’ve been to the mall several times and used almost all of our 600KD settling allowance. Ikea has become our new favorite store and we longingly browse Pottery Barn wishing we could afford it šŸ™‚ These pictures are of our apartment the night of and the morning after we arrived in Kuwait. Hopefully in a few months (after we get paid) we’ll have new pictures to show you of a cozy, homey apartment!

Some interesting features of living in Kuwait:
1. In the summer, the hot water setting is actually “cold” and the cold water setting is actually HOT! The water is stored in large containers on the roof of our building. Because it is so hot in the summer, the water that comes directly to our faucet is hot from being stored on the roof. We also have water heaters for the bathrooms and kitchen. We can turn it on in the winter when the water coming from the roof will be cold and the water from the hot faucet will go through the heater.

Large water tanks on top of apartment building.

2.Ā The switches for the bathrooms are outside the room.

Switches for master bathroom (outside of room).

Switches in the kitchen (washer, dryer, water heater, lights, fan).

3. There is approximately 1 outlet per room Ā and NONE in the bathrooms šŸ˜¦

4. Most people don’t use toilet paper. We’ve heard that the pipes here can clog easily. So people clean with sprayers that are by every toilet (yupp…EVERY toilet we’ve seen has one of these with it!) and then dry themselves with toilet paper that they throw in small garbage cans that also accompany every toilet. We haven’t adopted this practice just yet.

Hussain and Ali’s

No pics on this one I’m afraid, just a short story.

[EDIT-J: I lied. We have pictures.]

Thursday night (our “Friday”) we went with 5 of our friends to the OldĀ Souq. It’s a pretty standard thing to do if you’re ever in Kuwait, and we’re glad we went. We wandered around a bit and eventually sat down to eat dinner at one of the common food places there. Fun fact about eating in Kuwait: restaurants fight over you, so guys armed with menus try to recruit you to sit at their tables if you even pause anywhere near the food area. It makes you feel special.

Anyway we ended up ordering some saffron rice, hummus, some sort of small shrimp dish, some sort of small chicken dish and, because there were seven of us splitting it all, we ordered 1.5 skewer plates. What they brought out to us was a delicious mountain of food. We ate for an HOUR STRAIGHT. They served us fresh Iranian bread in giant baskets and brought us new baskets whenever ours got cold whether we had finished it or not. Iranian bread is amazing. Someone remind me to post a picture and blurb about our Iranian bakery that’s close by. We left with bags of food and plan on having a reunion feast on Saturday.

After dinner we rolled walked around a bit more and our friend brought us to a carpet place called Hussain and Ali’s. Hussain happens to be an Afghani carpet salesmen educated in Iranian literature and one hell of a storyteller. He brought us into the second floor of his shop and proceeded to tell us everything there is to know about carpets. For two hours. It was amazing. He taught us how to count threads, identify & defineĀ MuslimĀ symbols within the carpet, and determine whether the weaver was left or right handed. How cool is that?

By the way, should any of you ever be in need of a carpet consultant, we may be of some Ā service.

As for the week ahead – we’ve got some blog posts simmering. Until then you can amuse yourself by price-checking authentic Qum (city in Iran) silk rugs of 1.5 million threads or more. Do it. It’s nuts.

An artsy shot of the store. Carpet for dayyyyys. Thanks to Lindsay for the picture!

Packing for 13 hours in an airplane.

13 hours in a plane, broken into an 8 hour and 5 hour segment. The goal is to sleep as much as possible during the first leg and stay up during the second. You have a 7 hour layover during which you plan to walk around a foreign city. What do you pack?

Here’s my personal item.

things arranged neatly.

I’ll list them by column:
1. Nalgene, Ā UberLarabar x2, Larabar x2 travel dopp kit.
2. Headphones in a tangled mess, iPod touch, headphone splitter, iPod charger, Pens, Sleep-mask with earplugs.
3. Passport wallet, sunglasses,Ā zip lockĀ bags.
4. GQ, Runner’s World (Running Times could not be found… what’s up with that, Battle Creek?), Backpack.
Not shown: long-sleeved sweatshirt.

It all fit pretty well. It was light enough to walk around Frankfurt with and small enough to easily stow underneath the seat. A few items I consider must-haves if you’re flying overnight: sleep-mask, earplugs, chamomille tea & and a pillow. Entertainment is secondary on a flight you need to sleep on. You want to limit your exposure to light/noise as much as possible to get your body to sleep, so the mask and earplugs are worthwhile investments. Chamomille tea packs fit easily in your dopp kit and flight attendants gladly bring you piping hot water. When you wake up, you can clean up with the facial wipes and it’s almost like you got a semi-decent nights sleep.

Here’s my carry-on:

must improve photography skills…

The focus for my carry-on was two-fold: clothes and food. I needed a change of clothes for Frankfurt (middle column), a change of clothes for the flight to Kuwait (right column – no shorts!) and some PJ’s that were easy to access when we got to Kuwait (left column). God Bless Sperry’s.

In the upper-right hand corner you’ll notice some food. Ritz makes these amazing cracker sandwiches we just discovered and are a handy snack for planes and German streets. Next is a cup of soup, which is something I’ll pack for every single flight I’m ever on ever again. It’s amazing to be able to ask for hot water and make something to eat if you’re on any length or flight over 3 hours where they don’t feed you. Do this next time, people around you will be jealous. Finishing out our stowed-away snacks was a can of cashews. Salty goodness.