2 things I’m thankful for are…

1. Learning Arabic. Tonight Jeff and I went to our a restaurant around the corner to pick up a chicken machine. We go there 2-3 times a week to pick one up and use it in a variety of recipes. We are quite familiar with the guys who work there. Tonight we were able to order in Arabic! We recently learned numbers and they taught us how to say chicken machine. So tonight we ordered one (واحد) chicken machine (شواية)! Exciting 🙂

2. Skype/FaceTime. Today we were able to FaceTime with both Jeff parents and Skype with my family at a family get together! While my family was coming and going during the hour we talked to them, I had one of those moments where I was like “Wow, technology is freakin’ awesome.” We were basically with our families today! Amazing 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

Beautiful People in Kuwait

Last night Jeff and I decided to venture to our bank. Our branch is in Salmiya and we needed to go to our home branch to do paperwork for our account. We knew about where the bank was but not exactly and couldn’t find it on Google maps. We risked finding a taxi on the street instead of calling our normal guy. The first 2 taxis didn’t know where our bank was either. Finally the 3rd guy seemed to know so we got in. When we got to Salmiya, he started pointing at every bank…”Bank?” He realized he had no idea where we were going! Once we were somewhere we recognized, we quickly got out of the taxi. We figured a Starbucks might have the most English speakers in it, so we went in to ask. The cashier didn’t really have any idea, but there was a customer who was incredibly nice and helpful! His English was pretty decent too! He took us outside and showed us where we should walk. We were a little surprised and incredibly grateful! Unfortunately, it wasn’t the exact branch we needed but fortunately one of our friends answered the phone and directed us to just walk a little further down the road…and we found it 🙂

After we were done with business at the bank, we decided to walk home. The Kuwaiti customer service employee who helped us (طه) walked outside with us to show us the way. He said that if we wanted to wait 30 minutes, he would be done with work and could just drive us. SO nice! We really wanted to walk, but were (again) surprised at his offer and thankful. We love that when you are kind, respectful and not judgmental people respond to you positively and are willing to help you 🙂

In other news…I’m teaching again. I have taken back 2 of the 3 French classes that I was teaching earlier this year. They are once again looking for a teacher. This time the search is for a French teacher only…so if anyone knows anyone, PLEASE send them our way! It won’t be an easy job, but it’s a job 🙂 I’m currently telling myself that I’ll be in this position until the end of the year…and just going so the the flow!

UPDATE: they hired someone Thursday afternoon for the French position! I taught my last grade 9 class today (Sunday) and tomorrow I’ll teach my last grade 10. I met that new teacher today and she seems great! She’s from France even 🙂 A GREAT start to the week!

World Record Breaking Fireworks

Last weekend was the 50th anniversary of constitution of Kuwait. It’s only natural that there was a full day of celebration on Saturday and that HH the Emir canceled school on Sunday. We stayed away from most of the happenings but did not want to miss the firework show. There were lots of rumors leading up to the evening and it did not disappoint! We watched the show from the roof of our 19 story building and had a pretty dang good view of 65 minutes of firework. The show was officially deemed the world’s largest firework display of all time with 77,282 projectiles! Although we enjoyed it immensely and we will never see anything like it again, we did ask ourselves “What else could you have done with $15 million?” We did hear that there were quite a few things we missed out on since we weren’t at the show – music, laser show, pictures, kites and more. However we did see the the planes that had fireworks on their wings (see photo below)! It wasn’t until the fireworks stopped and we could see the lights that we even knew what they were!

We took a gagillion of our own pictures and a short video. Click here to see them all.

There was a ton of publicity and professional pictures taken. Have fun browsing!
Watch the entire show
Photos from the fireworks show
New Guinness World Record set
Snapshots of the fireworks
The news made world headlines
Behind the scenes

And a couple videos (not done by us)!
Human emotions during the show:

Kite Flyers’ perspective:

Winter is coming!

When you live in Michigan, you are constantly checking the weather forecast. In Kuwait, we rarely usually look at the weather because it’s been almost the same since we arrived – sunny (with an occasional cloud) and hot (over 90 degrees).

Last week, I happened to check the 10-day forecast and saw it coming…winter! Yesterday it was slightly more cloudy than normal, but the high was still in the mid 90s. Last night it got windy and the temperature dropped (not out of the ordinary). BUT today it never went back up! It’s been in the 70s all day AND it’s been cloudy, windy and rainy. Did I mention the thunderstorms? We’ve been hearing gorgeous thunder on and off all day! The cool temperature and rain is refreshing and very welcome to stay. It was hard to imagine this weather when we got here in August, but it’s here and we are loving it 🙂

Here is a picture of one of the courtyards at school at 2:30pm this afternoon.


Unexpected Holidays

Today is November 11th. As you can see in the calendar below, we should have only had 1 day of vacation since the beginning of school for the Eid break (have a post in the works about what we did!). We were told on October 18th that our that our 3-day weekend would be extended to include Sunday & Monday making it a 5-day weekend. A week and a half ago we were told that we would get Thursday, November 15th off for Islamic New Year. This morning at 6:30am we found out school was cancelled today by HH the Amir in honor of the 50th anniversary of the constitution (we had record breaking fireworks last night…post in the works for that too!).

Recap: Thanks to the Ministry and the Amir, we have gone from 1 day of vacation to 3. We worked a 3-day week, then a 4-day week, we suffered through a 5-day work week last week and now this week has turned into another 3-day week! Can’t complain about life too much 😉

Feels a little more like home

Kuwait has slowly started to feel more like home. There are still days when we think “We live in Kuwait?! Crazy!” But those moments are getting few and far between. Our apartment is still quite bare, but we’re chalking that up to the fact that we’re trying to save money and we’d like to be here for several years…we’ve got time.

On Friday, I got a hair cut. It might seem a little silly, but finding a good salon and hair stylist makes a place feel more like home to me. Eden Salon & Spa was just what I needed 🙂 Mez did a great job of cutting my hair AND I even got my eyebrows threaded! The prices were reasonable and much closer to what I’m used to paying than some places here. For awhile it seemed that all the salons were either extremely overpriced (35KD) or under priced (5KD). Eden is just right (20KD for cut, curly style, threading & tip) and I quite enjoyed my experience! It was a little ‘welcome home’ moment just when I needed it most 🙂

Too many Daves

Boy do we have a story for you!

October 23rd(ish): Talked to the Middle School principal (Dave B) about getting together to watch one of the World Series games (he is also from Michigan and a Tigers fan). He just got a new iPhone 5.

October 25th: Jeff received a text from an unknown number asking us over for dinner on the 26th. When Jeff asked who it was, the reply was Dave B. Jeff already had a Dave B in his phone, but figured he got a new number with his new phone. We were a little surprised that they would ask us over for dinner, but we’d just talked about the Tigers.

11am October 26th: Lissa texted Dave B to make sure we were still on for dinner and to see if we needed to bring anything. He asked who it was. When I told him he said he thought so. Said we’d just order something in and to come at 7pm.

1pm: Jeff gets a text from Dave B saying dinner is at 7:30pm.

7:20pm: On our walk to dinner, Dave B texts Lissa asking if there was a miscommunication  thought dinner was at 7. We text back saying the last text Jeff got said dinner at 7:30pm. We are thoroughly confused and arrive at their apartment.

7:30pm: At Dave B’s, we start talking about the situation. We realize that Jeff has TWO Dave Bs in his phone. While we are discussing, Jeff gets a text from Dave B…not the one’s house we are at! Jeff calls. We realize that Dave B the high school teacher asked us over for dinner, NOT Dave B the MS principal. We realize that we (basically) invited ourselves over for dinner at our principal’s house. Because food is already on its way, we eat a delicious meal with them. And then head over to Dave B the teacher’s house where our friends are finishing up dinner.

It was one of the craziest, most unbelievable experiences. There were SO many tiny things that could have changed everything. We told our friends at teacher Dave B’s and a good laugh was had by all. Principal Dave B and family were also able to laugh. We were incredibly thankful for friends that go with the flow! Now it’ll be a silly story to tell 🙂

To make things a little more interesting…the next morning we had breakfast at a third Dave’s house…

Update: As Christina just pointed out, there is a poem that goes quite nicely with our story. Enjoy!

Too Many Daves
by Dr. Seuss

Did I ever tell you that Mrs. McCave
Had twenty-three sons and she named them all Dave?
Well, she did. And that wasn’t a smart thing to do.
You see, when she wants one and calls out, “Yoo-Hoo!
Come into the house, Dave!” she doesn’t get one.
All twenty-three Daves of hers come on the run!
This makes things quite difficult at the McCaves’
As you can imagine, with so many Daves.
And often she wishes that, when they were born,
She had named one of them Bodkin Van Horn
And one of them Hoos-Foos. And one of them Snimm.
And one of them Hot-Shot. And one Sunny Jim.
And one of them Shadrack. And one of them Blinkey.
And one of them Stuffy. And one of them Stinkey.
Another one Putt-Putt. Another one Moon Face.
Another one Marvin O’Gravel Balloon Face.
And one of them Ziggy. And one Soggy Muff.
One Buffalo Bill. And one Biffalo Buff.
And one of them Sneepy. And one Weepy Weed.
And one Paris Garters. And one Harris Tweed.
And one of them Sir Michael Carmichael Zutt
And one of them Oliver Boliver Butt
And one of them Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate …
But she didn’t do it. And now it’s too late.

5 times a day, 7 days a week

When Jeff and I were living on campus at Hope College (our awesome alma mater), trains pass through town on a regular basis. During the day, in the middle of the night…all.the.time. Because it was downtown and there were lots of cross streets, we got quite used to the sound of train horns. By senior year, they no longer woke me up in the middle of the night.

When I lived in France, there were lots of churches. I remember my first couple days in Paris…the sound of church bells made me really realize I wasn’t in the States anymore. Eventually, the beautiful bells just became background noise and I barely noticed them.

In Kuwait, we’re (very) slowly getting used to something new. Muslims pray 5 times a day. For each of these prayers, all the mosques have a call to prayer sung by the Muezzin and played on loudspeakers. We have at least 3 mosques in a 1-mile radius of our apartment with one practically attached to our school. Even though we hear the call 5 times a day, it’s still interesting to me. Fridays are the holy day of the week for Muslims. Today, on our walk back from the gym, there were 2 simultaneous calls to prayer and 1 Friday sermon for the city to hear. Men in dishdashas (and a few women) flocked to the mosque next to our school to pray. The majority of Muslims in Kuwait are Sunni and 30% are Shi’a. Each mosque has an Imam who leads formal prayer. My goal is to make time this weekend to blog about the Grand Mosque tour we went on in September. 🙂

Here is a very short clip of the call to prayer of the mosque across from Al Corniche that I took a few weeks ago. If you want to see a longer one from the mosque in Kuwait City, click here (we didn’t take this one).

Walking with Lissa

I wrote this post on Friday and then had technical difficulties with the video 🙂 You will now see why I posted a password protected post (see end of post).

Last night at the Halloween party Jeff and I drank very responsibility (i.e. nothing). We may or may not have eaten some very tasty desserts though 😉 That allowed us to wake up quite refreshed this morning! After an hour of lounging, I got myself motivated, made my green smoothie and headed out the door to the gym! We were busy with Halloween festivities so we skipped working out Wednesday and Thursday and I was determined to get my sweat on. I felt quite accomplished after attending BodyAttack 🙂 After the gym, I had a very important mission – buy an eyebrow ring! Mine completely feel out and was lost early last week. My 10-year old piercing was slowly getting closing up and I was having none of that. So…I headed to the mall (~20 min walk from the Corniche). I was successful in buying a pack of eyebrow rings…they are too big & ugly, but something is better than nothing! I also stopped at Bath & Body Works to check out their 3 candles for 12KD special.

It was quite successful, but I also ended up meeting a fellow American! When I walked in one of the employees was speaking with a very familiar accent. I think she heard my accent too and came over to talk to me. I smelled hundreds of candles (at least it felt like it) and had a pretty great convo with her! She has lived in Chicago for the last 6 years and is currently traveling the world visiting Bath & Body Works stores for the company. She is in Kuwait for 2 weeks by way of 3 weeks in Poland and several other cool places (I don’t remember them all). I can’t exactly put into words exactly what she does, but what I understood is that she visits stores outside the US and helps them do business more like the stores in the US. She said it’s been really interesting to visit different countries and see how different it is (culture, business, the stores). She also had good things to say about Kuwait which was good to hear! I think she’s most likely here to help with the opening of the new Bath & Body Works in Phase 3 of the Avenues. It opens next week and we’ll be eager to explore it once the hype dies down. The Kuwaitis love their malls!

The point of this post is that I made a video as I was walking around (from the gym to the mall, in the mall and back home).  I hope you enjoy sharing my walk!

Total Trip Distance: 2km + 3.3km = 5.3km (not including getting to the gym or my workout)
Total Trip Time: 2 hours (ditto to above)
Some things to watch for: fancy cars, the surprising (to me) number of motorcycles, crazy drivers, stores signs in Arabic (both outside and in the mall), our typical walk home from school…

Click here for the password you will need to watch the video. Click here to watch the video. Sorry for making you work…I want to share my walk but I also want to keep a certain level of privacy 😉