Hunting the Hummingbird - by David C Hoffman

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Keepin' it Real...

So I've shown you many lovely parts of Kuwait.
And I truly enjoy a lot of different things about living here... like the sunshine and the palm trees and the beaches. I've taken pictures that capture much of the beauty here, and have had several wonderful things to say about this Country.

Every word has been true, and every picture unedited.


There are also things I don't love. 

And just like living anywhere, there are many places that aren't so beautiful.

 - You can smoke indoors here. It's just as stinky as you imagine. It's been outlawed in Oregon for so long, I still find myself doing a double take when I see it here. Our kids are not shy about plugging their noses and saying things like "ewwwwww" when we walk by, and while most of our time here I try and make sure they're being culturally respectful, I never correct them in these particular cases. Because GROSS.

- People just open things in stores here. Just open them and dig through. You have to be careful when purchasing something to make sure it hasn't already been opened and rifled through. Often, you'll see signs like this one:
I took that picture in City Centre in the bedding aisle. Even with this sign there (and they're in a lot of places!) sheet packages had still been opened. Food packages are opened. Toy packages. Everything. 

- The drivers here are crazy. Insane. On the larger, main roads, all the lanes start out with distinct boundaries...and then as you go further down the road, they simply disappear. And then the boundaries reappear closer to the stop lights. Drivers weave in and out around each other and pass on the right and are constantly honking at one another. 
And those are the organized places to drive. 
The blocks and streets off the main roads - like where most residential areas are, including our apartment complex - don't even have stop signs. FOR REALS. It's like a game of chicken every time there is a four way intersection. People just honk and go. It's absolutely stunning to me that we have yet to be in or even witness an accident here. I've grown closer to Jesus since we've been on this adventure in Kuwait, and one of the main reasons is I've spent nearly every taxi ride praying. 
Oh! And! AND! There are zero seat belt laws. Zip zero zilch. All the time you see babies on someone's lap in the passenger seat. And everyone and their mother is either talking on their cell phone or texting while driving. Many of the cabs we've taken do not even have seat belt options in the back. The seat belts have literally been removed from the vehicle. Sweet Mercy, that's hard on a Momma's anxiety level. I always sit in the back with my babies and have my arm ready to toss across them should we stop short. Gah
I do have two particular cab drivers I'll call if I/we need to go longer distances. I trust them both because they are safe and reliable, and their cabs have full sets of seatbelts. 

- There are zero Codeine products here in Kuwait. Now on the one hand, good on them, as they very likely do not have the substance abuse problems we have in the States. On the other hand, as someone who has chronic flare-up pain from scar tissue in her neck/shoulder post ablation resulting from a car accident years back who came to Kuwait with a Vicodin RX in hand, this sucks. I had terrible neck pain a few weeks back and headed to the International Clinic with my RX, and was informed it is only administered in Hospitals during In-Patient stays. Not awesome. The doctor gave me Tramadol in it's place, and while it did help *some* with the pain, it mainly just put me to sleep...which would be lovely, if I didn't have two five year olds to care for each day. 

- Our Internet is spotty. The building we are in has internet, but sometimes it just plain is "down", which is super annoying. We finally gave in and bought ourselves are very own "hot spot" for our apartment, and now have working internet 99% of the time. Yay and Hooray.

- It can be hard to parent your children in a new culture. Here, boys are treated like young men at an early age. My children are five and a half, and still sometimes ask to be carried when we're out. Most of the time, I oblige, because 1) we walk A LOT here, 2) five and a half is not that old, 3) they are not going to ask to be held forever, ya know?  
Well, without fail, every single time I am carrying our son, someone makes a comment. Whether it be the checker at the grocery store, or a staff member at the Aquarium, or in a mall, or even a neighbor...they say "oh, how old are you? You are too old to be carried!" or "why you carry him? He is much too old!" or something along those lines. Finally, an Arabic friend explained to me that it was just plain "odd" to see a mother carrying "such an older son around!" It gets under my skin a bit, because who cares??? Boys are treated differently here (no one ever comments when I carry our daughter) and I do try to be respectful of the culture we are in, but we're also bringing Portland to Kuwait, and this Momma carries her kids from time to time - both boy and girl - and has zero plans to stop anytime soon.

- We have to grocery shop much more frequently than I'd prefer, as our kitchen gets hot and muggy, and so things like bread and crackers get moldy/stale very quickly. Bananas go from green to brown in 36 hours.

- Speaking of grocery stores, you'll often find things like this:
A giant selection of knives, on the very bottom row of a cookware aisle. This was at calf-level for know, like the perfect height for a toddler to see and reach.

- And lastly, I think one of the hardest things about living here is the realization that so many places around the globe are doing so very little to take care of our shared planet. Living in Portland, it's easy to feel like most everyone is doing their part. 

Portland has mixed, curbside recycling that picks up weekly. 
Bringing your own canvas shopping bags to the store is common. Hybrid vehicles are all over the roads. 
Here, nothing is recycled. NOTHING. And every store doles out plastic bags like they are going out of or two items in each bag. People just toss their trash wherever...out their car window, off their balcony, down on the street while walking, etc. If you go out early enough in the morning, you see trash EVERYWHERE. The main streets are cleared of trash every day by City Workers.
And it's the land of Cheap Energy. Oil a plenty = SUV's everywhere and cars left running constantly and AC units running OUTDOORS even when no one is near them. 
It's hard to live here and know what we know about Global Warming and the deterioration of the Earth. 

So. Those are some low points. Just wanted to share so as to be honest in documenting and not come across with rose colored glasses =).


  1. This is gonna sound crazy, but I suspect that the lack of lane striping and stop signs actually makes things safer. There was some study (which of course I don't have the link to or any other information about!) that suggests that all our signage and safety measures give us a false sense of security, and so we go barreling down the road assuming that as long as (sorta) follow the rules, we'll be fine. So we don't pay attention.

    But the safety belt thing? Yeesh. I'm one of those people who won't move the car until everyone is buckled, and think we should all have harnesses like in baby seats.

  2. I appreciate your honesty more than you know. I love you.