Hunting the Hummingbird - by David C Hoffman

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Sunday, March 20, 2016


Last week I had a birthday - I turned the big 3-5.

I think I've mentioned on here before that Reem and I's birthdays are only one day apart. 
We learned that early on in our friendship, and it's so fascinating to me to meet a woman born on (nearly) the same day of the same year as I was, who grew up on the other side of the Earth, and compare our lives up to this point. 
We've lived drastically different lives, simply because of where we happened to be born.

The World is not boring, friends.

We decided long ago that we'd go out for a girls only dinner to celebrate our joint birthdays, so on Saturday evening of last week, we did...

Our husbands stayed home with the kids and we went to a beautiful outdoor restaurant to enjoy a delicious meal together and celebrate turning 35.

We had the best time eating and talking, and then went and walked around a bit and enjoyed the sights...

So fun.

On Sunday - my actual birthday,- the kids came and woke me in the morning and were beside themselves with excitement as they begged me to get up and come out into the living room...
David had taken them to the store the day prior to shop for my presents, and apparently also picked up "3" and "5" balloons, and then blown them up and taped them together.
He's a creative man, that David.
He had hidden them in the playroom closet, and told the kids to get them out when they woke up in the morning and put them all over the living room floor.

When I came out and was surprised to see the floor covered with balloons, they were so proud, it was adorable. 

I also had presents on the table...

...but wanted to wait until Dave got home from work to open them.

The kids kept telling me over and over that all that was inside those packages were dirty socks and underwear.

I tell them that's all we're getting them every Christmas and birthday.
It's become a family joke.
I know, we're hilarious

After David got home I opened my gifts and then headed off to a hotel spa for a facial appointment. 
My skin has been having a rough go of it for awhile now. The water in Kuwait is really hard.
Or is it soft?
Whichever one is not easy on skin.
Anyways, I've been breaking out like a teenager.
So I told David that I wanted a professional facial for my birthday.
 This was my first spa facial, and I was really excited for a little luxury =).

 I know for some women, luxury days at the spa are a common occurrence.  

But I also know that for many women, clean drinking water is a luxury.


I know I have it really, really good.

I had heard about this spa on the "expat mums in Kuwait"  Facebook page I'm a part of, and everything I'd heard was fantastic, so I was really looking forward to checking it out.
My first clue that this place was incredibly fancy was when my taxi driver tried to pull in and was stopped at the gate to be inspected by security. They drug a mirror underneath his car to check around, and wrote down his license plate number. 
This was just so he could enter the grounds and drive me up to the front door.

I went inside, and made a mental note to pick my jaw up of the floor.

Fan. Cy.

 I knew the facial I booked was like, STUPID expensive, but still. This was far fancier than I'd anticipated.

I coached myself. 
"Act like you've been here, before, Kendra"

Before finding the spa, I wandered the hotel grounds a little bit...

I made my way downstairs to the spa, and was instantly in awe anew...

This was just the waiting area...

Hand to God, I would have been content to just hang out in this area for the next two hours.

But alas, they called my name.

I first was taken into the changing area where I switched over to a swim suit and the assistant told me to put my belongings in a locker.

Listen, it's all designer handbags and designer shoes here in Kuwait.
I really wasn't worried that my purse I'd bought at the Little League Yard Sale back in December and my Reef flip flops were going to get stolen, but I obeyed. 
She showed me how to enter in a code of my choosing to lock the locker, and then turned away as I did so.

Fan. Cy.

(My cell phone was in my purse, so the rest of these pictures are all from their website.)

She led me into the "facilities" area, where I was welcome to enjoy myself for the next hour prior to my facial time.

Don't mind if I do.

I started out in the giant hot tub that had water massage thingys. 

I stayed in there a long time. 
Because why leave a place like that??

Eventually I tore myself away to explore other things...

...and that's when I found these chairs...
They are ergonomic marble chaise loungers that are heated.

Hello, love.

I laid there on one of those babies with my eyes close and (I'm quite sure) a ridiculous smile on my face until someone appeared to tell me it was time for my appointment. 

When she took me into the treatment room, she led me to a chair, put my feet in warm water, had me close my eyes while she spritzed some yummy smelling spray on my face, and proceeded to rub my feet for a few minutes.
A foot rub? During a facial appointment?! BONUS.
She then dried my feet and had me climb up onto the table, and then positioned a lumbar pillow things under my knees so I was "more comfortable"...which I really didn't believe could be possible.


Was this table/bed heated?
Why, yes. Yes it was.
Well hot damn, turns out I could be more comfortable. 

She pulled a headband wrap around my hairline and placed two cotton rounds over my eyelids.
Soft piano music was playing in the background.
She told me to take a deep breath, and then exhale.
I obeyed.
And as I exhaled, tears started to fall from the corners of my eyes.
"Are you okay mad'am?" she asked me.
"Yes, yes...I'm very good. Thank you" I mustered and willed myself to stop crying.
A few more controlled deep breaths, and she began working some creams into my face.

Here's the thing:
I'm not gonna lay there and complain about how my life lately is/has been hard. 
Because it's really not.
In the grand scheme of things, I live a very good life.
And I'm certainly not going to whine to my Filipino cosmetologist -who I'm fairly sure is not being paid nearly what she'd make in the States for such work, and also is likely working very, very long days- that laying there was the first time in months I'd felt like I could actually, truly un-clench, and that the relief that accompanied that feeling revealed to me just how tightly wound I'd been.

The truth is, last six+ months of living overseas, coupled with the few months before that, preparing to do so, have been challenging and often uncomfortable.
The packing, the moving, the travel, the illness, the language barrier, the illness, the culture shock, the illness, the emergency surgery, the feeling of complete lack of's all been very overwhelming.

But. We've chosen this.
We are not here because we have to be, or because we do not have other options.
And, we're all together.
The four of us get to eat dinner together nearly every evening and go to bed under the same roof every night....which is not the case for our favorite taxi driver, whose family is all still in India and he sends the majority of his paycheck home to. Or for the nurse at my doctor's office, whose daughter is back in the Philippines, being raised by her parents. Or  my favorite checker at Lulu Market, whose two children are back in the Philippines with her parents. Or many, many others.

And sure enough, at the end of the facial, after my face  had been exfoliated and lotioned and rubbed and my scalp massaged (I actually started to drool at that point...), I sat up and thanked her for the fantastic time. 
She smiled sheepishly and then said "I have a daughter with your name..."
"Really? It's not very common! How old is she?"
"My Kendra is seven months old..."
"Wow! Just a baby! You must be she sleeping good for you?"
"She is in my home Country with my mother and father..."
Such a familiar refrain here in Kuwait.
I did what I always do in these situations, I tried to meet her eyes, put my hand on top of hers, and said, mother to mother,  "that must be hard..."
Often I'm met with a warm smile and nod.
Sometimes with a shrug of the shoulders, as if it's just an accepted fact.
And sometimes with tear filled eyes and a wistful glance away.
"Yes." She said simply.

And then she moved on to tell me about the products she used and that they were available for purchase at the front counter.
We chatted a bit more about the services offered there, and I thanked her profusely and told her I'd love to come have another facial with her before we leave Kuwait!

She walked me out to a lounge area, we shook hands and exchanged goodbyes, and I couldn't help but be grateful both that I had chosen not to unload on her with the past six months of "troubles", and be incredibly grateful that I get to hold my babies every single day.

I sat and sipped my cucumber water in the lounge area, which by the way, looked like this...
I mean, gah. Can you even believe this place?
A woman told me later this is the largest spa in the entire Middle East.
I totally believe that.

I started to kind of recline on one of those bed thingys and take it all in, when an employee came up to me and said "would you like to rest ma'dam? you can rest in here..."
or something close to that, I couldn't fully understand her.
I gathered she was telling me that my time was up, and I couldn't just lay down there and take a nap and perhaps try and stay the night like I'd been halfheartedly plotting to do.
I reluctantly got up and followed her, sad that my time at the spa appeared to be over.

Oh friends, I was SO WRONG.

She was NOT giving me the boot. I HAD heard her correctly. She was, in fact, offering me an even dreamier place to rest. 
She opened a large wooden door and showed me this:

"You can rest or sleep here. We will wake you later..." she said, and left.

I laid down on one of the beds, and learned they were water beds.

Heated water beds.

I laid there and thought this is what Heaven is going to be like and even opened my eyes a few times to see if Jesus himself was chillin' in there too. 

I rested there for I don't even know how long, as I'd lost track of all time.
It was wonderful.
So incredibly decedent and so completely, utterly relaxing.
At some point two other women came in, and at some other point one of them even started snoring. But I didn't care because HEATED WATER BED IN UTOPIAN PALACE.

Eventually, I drug myself out of that ecstasy bed, and made my way back to the locker room, and eventually, back to reality...
...which isn't all together so bad either ;)


  1. LOVE this post. When you told me you had a fancy facial I imagined fancy--but I did not imagine *this*! Holy wow! So glad you got to do this, though. I am really not a spa person, but I am tempted to go there now. Too bad that my birthday already happened. ;)

    And I hear ya about complaining about being here and how difficult it is. I So many others have it waaaaay harder. Not that it's some sort of a comparison race, but, yes, stopping and counting our blessings is important.

    You are a beautiful human being, Kendra! Inside and out.

    1. um...this has place has "I COMPLETED MY DISSERTATION AND HAVE TO CELEBRATE!!!" written ALL over it ;)

  2. I am constantly dreaming about how wonderful it would be if various things in my life were heated. Heated bed, heated couch, heated blanket, heated carseats. It's a weird luxury I'm somewhat obsessed with. But this wonder spa of yours proves that AT LEAST I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE.

    So glad you got a day of pampering!

    Happy Belated Birthday! Even though...if you're 35...that means I'm almost....

    haha love you.

    1. ha! It's something I had no idea I always wanted. It was AMAZING. ;) Wish you were here...I'd take you ;)

  3. I'm glad you got to really unwind and relax. You so deserved that time. I really got a kick out of your comments.

    Looks like it was a happy family birthday the next day, too.

    Aunt Carol

  4. LOL. Glad God guided you to your brush with Heaven on earth. Really enjoyed your post. Makes me want to go get a massage. I've not had many, but loved every one. Glad your birthday was so delightful. Birthdays are all about the birthday person. You were wise to follow your wishes. LOVE, DAD