So I’ve been here a little over two weeks and have noticed a few things and thought I’d point out seven that stood out for me. (In no particular order)
1. Their bread is big. At least that which I’ve run across so far. Their bagels are huge and their Ethiopian bread even bigger.
2. Everyone has a very clean bottom… I presume. Every bathroom I’ve been in so far has one of these hoses next to the toilet. I believe it’s like a hand-use bidet.
3. Hospitality is a well-known trait of Middle Eastern cultures, and here they take it very seriously. I have not seen so much food at events in … ever. And restaurant meals are HUGE with appetizers and complimentary bread and hummus. So far dessert doesn’t seem to be a big part. While it may be tacky Western, I’ve been bringing home a doggie bag because I can’t deal with just tossing away another meal’s worth of food. It’s all delicious too. It’s certainly cutting down on my food bills. :-)
4. Mocktails/juice. Kuwait is a dry country. Yes, as diplomats we have access to a certain amount of alcohol for use on our premises but while out at restaurants no alcohol is available. However, they have all kinds of interesting juice combinations in place of the usual long cocktail or wine list. I have had some really tasty combinations and it’s fun to explore. They are also far less expensive that a traditional cocktail back home. I’ve also discovered strawberry juice which is very popular here. It’s delicious and when you mix it with lemonade, even better.
The strawberry juice is thicker (hence it’s nice with lemonade if you aren’t used to the texture). It’s not strained and clear like cranberry juice, it’s more like tossing strawberries directly in the blender with some sugar and then straining out the seeds. I love it.
5. Camels. Or lack-thereof. Unsurprisingly, I have not seen any camels in the city. I did read in some statistics that there are over 10,000 camels in Kuwait (domestic if you will) and I’m trying to find out what they do with them exactly. Everyone kind of shrugs. Maybe meat, maybe milk. They’re not sure, but there are some who can sell for over a million dollars because they are “an ideal camel”. I was promised that most diplomats are invited to a ranch out in the desert in February and that I will get a chance to see a camel up close and personal.
6 Space. While Kuwait is a relatively small country and Kuwait City looks small on the map, it’s much bigger than you suspect. In part because nearly all the population lives in the city or the extended city, and because there is so much space, there is often a lot of open space between buildings or complexes. Sure my residential neighborhood is pretty tight, but out on the highways, there is a lot of open space and not many tall buildings except in the core. So sometimes on the map it doesn’t look that far, but then when I check it will be 20km. It can be deceiving until you get used to it I suppose. I’m not sure how old this picture is below, but you still see large open areas/lots like that when you are driving.
7. The heat. Yes, Kuwait is hot. Every day the weather has been pretty much exactly the same, sunny and 42C (107F). However the humidity has been usually around 10% or lower. The definition of a dry heat. I missed the August humidity and I have to say, while I’m not going out for a walk in the heat or standing in the sun, sometimes it’s not bad and it’s all relative. The other morning I went out to the cab to go to work around 7:30 and I was “It’s a beautiful morning today. Nice and cool.” His response was “Yes, ma’am. It’s very nice, 36 degrees.” I can tell you, if it was 36C (96F) in Ottawa, I’d be whining and bitching. :-) We’ll see what I have to say when it hits 50C (122F)in July. But I have to say, I thought it would be worse and I really think it IS the humidity which is the bitch.
There you have it. My first impressions of Kuwait. So far, so good. I can certainly get anything here I could get in Europe or North America, probably more. :-) The people have all been super friendly and patient when I’ve completely forgotten who they are after meeting them in a crowd. The last of my things arrives tomorrow or Wed. so I’ll be able to put up pictures and decorate some. Right now it’s bare-wall-beige chic. It will feel more like home and less like I’m just squatting.
I will keep an eye out for camels. I was told the caught a lion out on the 7th Ring Road (I live between 3rd & 4th – but remember the distance) as apparently wild animals as pets, (that you can no longer look after so get away) are common here, especially cheetahs. Go figure.
If things keep going the way they are, I’m really going to enjoy it here. Although I’m sure once I start driving I’ll be able to do a whole post on idiot drivers. :-)