Hunting the Hummingbird - by David C Hoffman

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

What I will not miss about living in Kuwait.

There is a lot my family and I will miss about living life in Kuwait.

There is a lot we will not miss. 

This post consists of the latter. 


- The disgusting beaches:







To be fair, there are nice, clean beaches in Kuwait. It's just that they're not public beaches. You have to either know someone who has a private villa on the beach, belong to a club that has beach access, or pay Day Use fees to spend time on the clean sand.

This is one of those areas where it's so clear to me that Kuwait as a whole is just not playing the Long Game. Other Middle Eastern countries, such as most of the UAE, recognize that oil will eventually run out, and they better have a back up plan. The UAE - particularly Dubai and Abu Dhabi - have focused on tourism. They've made themselves popular tourist destinations, where people want to visit and are impressed by what they see and can experience. Oman isn't focused on glitz, glamour, or having the highest buildings on Earth, but from what we saw, they are intentional about still providing much for visitors to do, and keeping their land beautifully maintained while focusing on the culture there.

Kuwait often seems like it just doesn't care if visitors like it here. It cares if Kuwaitis like it here, and Kuwaitis do, as they are (generally) wealthy and well taken care of and have access to private beaches and so why do they care if the public ones are trashed?
*yes, that is an over-generalization. OF COURSE not ALL Kuwaitis are like this or feel this way. I'm simply making a point in regards to what often feels to be the consensus of the majority* 





- The weather:

Kuwait has the hottest summers EVER. Last year we were here when a heat record was broken.   Between that and the awful sandstorms...



We're ready for some more temperate weather...less heat and less sand.






- The overpriced American goods:




That's $19.22 for that Satin Care shave gel. 



$9.82 for our daughter's favorite crackers.





-The unnecessary censoring:



Stickers OVER the picture of the model in the bra. White, see-through stickers mind you, but stickers none the less.

Magazines are sharpied over.

Kissing scenes are cut from movies.



Wonder Woman, the movie, will not even be shown here in Kuwait. 






How things are just *Closed* sometimes:



Wanna purchase some L'Oreal mascara during normal business hours? Ya can't. Because this little station is just closed. Screen down, locked at the bottom. Sorry. No mascara for you today.




- The medical care:


Oh, where to even begin?? From the time the ED doc told us our daughter's 104F fever was due to the floors being cold and her being un-socked, to the time they let David WALK HOME post anesthesia from his colonoscopy, to my entire surgery experience...let's just say I'm feeling very lucky to be leaving Kuwait in good health. I don't even know what I'll do when we seek medical treatment in America and our every ailment isn't blamed on the weather.




- The fact that our haras washes the treadmill with a hose:



It's a small thing, but such an annoyance none the less. That poor belt has been soaked with a hose - ya know, to wash away the sand - every other night for years now, and it's all kinds of dilapidated because of it!







- The face-saving:

There is something in the culture here that says it's not socially acceptable to admit you do not know where or what something is. So, if you don't know, you just guess. I've been on wild goose chases all over Kuwait because each stop I make swears the next one will be where I need to go. The kids and I once spent three hours and ELEVEN different locations trying to find the government health clinic for students that all children need to visit before they start school here. 




-The waste of electricity:




This apartment building has been mid-construction our entire time here in Kuwait. A few months ago, they got the windows in and the electricity working. 
They turned on all the lights.
In the empty apartments.
And leave them on 24/7.



- A male dominated society:

You can argue the wage gap in the US (valid complaint!) but that's nothing compared to my husband having to go down and given written permission so his wife obtain her drivers license. 

Or my friend being unable to get her son's birth certificate even though the baby CAME OUT OF HER, because only her husband has rights to pick it up.

Or little things, like when the workers at the bakala downstairs see me without David and ask "where boss?" and I have to fight my urge to say "HE'S NOT THE BOSS OF ME!" because I'm very mature.






- The DUST/SAND:

It seeps into our apartment. Even if we've opened zero windows, and even though the only entry into our apartment leads into a closed hallway (ie, not directly into the outdoors and exposed to the elements) we have sand everywhere, all the time.

I snapped these pics less than 24 hours after our apartment had been dusted:

... you could write your name in that dust, man!

And there's always sand in the bottom of the laundry hamper, and within three sleeps it's in the sheets. 
Dave and I have both said multiple times we have to make a conscious choice to NOT think about what it is doing to our lungs, especially after each winter when we turn on our AC and see alllllllllll the dust that had gathered in the ducts over the previous months filter into our living space.





- Crappy parks:

There are currently two new-ish, nice parks in Kuwait that I am aware of. 
Every other park has play equipment like this:









- Our apartment:


I love our view and we've definitely grown to feel like this space is home, but I will not miss our teeny tiny kitchen, or the smallest clothes washer in all of the land, or the fact that there is a about two inches between the bottom of the front door and the floor.









- Tissues as Napkins:



I'm not exaggerating when I say that this makes me crazy. I carry wet wipes and proper, actual napkins in my purse at all times here, because this is SO a thing. Everywhere you go, you find a box of tissues where napkins would otherwise be. 
This picture above is from a restaurant outdoors, and I could take a hundred just like it. 
WHY DOES KUWAIT HATE NAPKINS??!??!?!?!!!? Don't they know tissues are not strong enough to endure real messes???  





- Floors. It's SO WEIRD here:


Maybe other parts of the world are like this, but I assure you Oregon is not.


I mean, which floor is the first one here? 
"G" is ground, which is the First floor, says all logic.
"M1" is Mezzanine one, which is technically the second floor.
"M2" is Mezzanine two, which is, by ALL REASON, the third floor.
And then "1" is truly the fourth floor.



Same thing here. You want the 1st floor? Go up three levels. Naturally. 





-The TRAFFIC, and driving here in general:

video


I know, I've posted about this before. But I just can't complain about it enough, apparently. It's FOR SURE something we will not miss ONE BIT about living in Kuwait.

This is a picture I took at school drop-off one morning...



...it's kinda hard to capture the moment in a still picture, but what you're looking at is a stale mate between two opposing directions of traffic.
And it happened every. single. morning.
The cars on the left there are parked, haphazardly, along the fence bordering the school.
The bus, the red suburban, and several cars not pictured behind the bus are all trying to go straight, but met with a line of cars ALSO trying to go straight, in the opposite direction.
This creates an obscene amount of loud honking, and dramatic hand gestures from behind the windshield, until someone eventually starts reversing, and then the car in front of them does the same, and so on.
EVERY DAY.
I just can't even handle the ridiculousness of it. 
Can't.
Unable to can.


For all those reasons, and a handful of others, we're a little okay with bidding Kuwait adieu this week.

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