Hunting the Hummingbird - by David C Hoffman

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Monday, September 14, 2015

That time I took a ride from a stanger...

On Friday I finally ventured out by myself for a bit. I hadn't yet for several reasons...still adjusting to sleep, illness, etc, but mainly because we didn't have working cell phones yet and I wasn't *quite* sure where we lived. Here we just have Block #, and Building # and then apartment #. But not so much "street addresses". Cab drivers seem to have a hard time finding our building when we call and request one, and a few times we've had trouble directing them back to our place. "It's the tan building...there's sand near it..." is not so helpful when that describes the majority of the buildings here.

But by Friday David had our cell phones, and I was off to the City Centre by myself for some exploring. The weekends here are Friday and Saturday, and Friday is considered a Holy Day, so many things are closed. City Centre is huge and I don't think ever closes =). I hailed a cab and stopped by a pharmacy to try and fill some prescriptions (FAIL, trying the International Clinic tomorrow) and then to City Centre. I had a decent list of things we needed for the house, as well as groceries.

I'd heard City Centre was huge, and it did not disappoint. Everything we'd been previously unable to cross off our list could be found there. I grabbed a cart and walked slowly through each department, until I came to some flat escalators in the middle of the store. I didn't know if I could take my cart on there or not, so I pretended to be very interested in an end of aisle display until I saw someone else do it (and not get yelled at =) ).

Fake It until you Make It, that's pretty much my motto around here.

I explored the entire downstairs, and by the end had found everything we needed. (Outside of a Brita pitcher - which doesn't seem to exist here, and of course bacon and beer) I went to check out and my total was exactly 30KD, which only left me with 1/2KD to get home.

I had a credit card, but that wouldn't do me much good with a taxi driver.

I know it should only cost 1/2KD to get to our place from City Centre, but we've been told by many that any driver who sees an American is gonna ask for 1KD. They just assume we're wealthy, (and to many of them, we are) and really that makes for about $3.00, so it's not completely unreasonable. 

My plan was to hail a cab, ask if they'd take 1/2KD, and if they said no, only a full, then I'd take the taxi home and have Dave come down with the rest of the money. I sent Dave a text informing him of my Master Plan.

I pushed my cart outside a very different entrance than I'd come in, and found myself directly in front of a butcher's shop, and I'll spare you the graphics by just saying there was a dead hanging cow in my view. I was also a long trek from the main road.

I found where the parking lot exited to the road, and checked my phone to see if David had replied. He had not. Ok, well...I'll take a taxi home, and if he hasn't replied by the time I get there then I'll have the doorman run up and get him for me. If the doorman isn't there, I'll run up myself. Worse case scenario the taxi driver takes off with $100 worth of home goods and groceries in his trunk, but I can live with that.

With my New Master Plan in place, I started to load up my nine plastic grocery bags on my wrist. Just as I was regretting purchasing a 9x13 Pyrex baking dish and a large mop, a woman parked her Land Cruiser next to where I was and got out. I smiled at her, and continued about my business. 

"Are you alright?" (insert British accent)
She looks at me sideways.
"Are you sure?"
"Um, yeah..." I say, clearly unsure.
"What's your plan here?"
"Um, I'm going to load up my arms here, walk across the parking lot to the street, and hail a cab home...."
"Are you new to Kuwait?"
"'s my eighth day" I lie. It was day eleven. I'm not sure if it was an honest mistake or my ego that made me say eighth. Was it more acceptable to be in such a predicament if one had only been here just over a week? I don't know.
"Where do you live?" 
I hand her the card David wrote for me with our "address" on it.
"That's not far. Hop in..." she directs as she opens up her trunk and starts putting my bags in there.
In a beat we've loaded up her trunk with my bags and I'm in her passenger seat.
"I'm Kendra...we just moved here..."
"Hi, I'm Rachel. I've lived here thirteen years!"

Turns out Rachel and her family are from the UK, and both she and her husband are English teachers at elementary schools here. They have two sons in upper grade school. In the short drive home, Rachel fills me in on a handful of tips about life in Kuwait, and also why they've chosen to stay here and raise their family. 

When we find our building, she hops out to help me unload everything into the cart waiting in the lobby. 
"Let me know if you need anything you have a phone?" she asks.
"Yes. But I just got it and don't know my number..." I am feeling super put together today.
I give her my email address, and she promises to email me later with her contact info in case I need anything further.

"Rachel...I don't know if you're a person of Faith..." I start...
"I was in Church just this morning!" She smiles.
"...Well, you've been a real blessing to me, and I promise I'll pay it forward and help someone else when given the opportunity..."

And with that, I came upstairs to our apartment, and cried as I told David about my new friend who had rescued me. It just felt like yet another example of how God is showing us He is here with us as well. 

Would I have taken a ride from a stranger back home? Who knows. Depends on the circumstances, I suppose. But that's one of the beautiful things about learning life in a new Country, you do things you perhaps wouldn't otherwise. I loved that quote by David Sedaris at the top of this blog the minute I read it, because it encompasses so much of what we want to occur while we're here. My adventure was an empowering one, in a very humbling kind of way.


  1. love love LOVE this. God is good. God bless Rachel.

  2. Yay for Rachel! And...escalator you can take a shopping cart on? Awesome.

  3. I can't believe you took off by yourself. I'm wicked proud of you!