Posts Tagged With: Kuwait

Back to sand, friends, and adventure…

Phew!

 

A long and much needed absence! But, as the saying goes….
I’m baaaaaaaaack!
So here I am, round #2, in Kuwait. It’s interesting coming ‘back’ to a place, because so many things are the same, and so many things are different. For instance, this time when I arrived at the airport, I knew exactly where to go. I knew I needed a visa before I could go to the luggage area, and when I was in the security area and the gate closed after the lady in front of me (meaning I was cut off), I didn’t throw a tantrum like the poor westerner behind me.
“How rude!” she exclaimed.
“Are you new here?” I asked tentatively.
“It’s my first time,” she said, a heavy dose of fury in her head.
I didn’t quite know what to say. Get used to it? Shit happens? This is nowhere NEAR as irritated as you’ll find yourself in the days to come?
Having good friends makes a difference. I need to have a shout out to all the amazing friends I have here. They really are the most amazing group of people. I have been so blessed to find people who treat me more as family than as friends. They’ve helped me a lot through my loneliness without my Megan, and they’ve done so much for me. I am so, so blessed.
I think the best thing about coming back is that I get to see everyone again. People are so important to me—I was joking with a friend the other day that I’m like a black lab: I love ‘my people’ and I’m so eager to see them. Falafel nights with Clare, weekends with my Iraqi and Lebanese buddies…..life is good. Plus, the second time around, you sure know a lot more. Life is easier now. Plus I know the best places to get all the foods I craved over the summer and couldn’t have: tabbouleh, hummus, fatteh hummus, lemon with mint..mmm!!!
There are new challenges this year, but to maintain professionalism, we’ll leave them out of the blog.
But here I am again, back in my ‘other’ home, and I am looking forward to a great new year of traveling. Perhaps Lebanon again, but definitely Europe, and definitely some new places in the Middle East!
I am living farther out than I did last year: last year I was in Salmiya which is pretty cosmopolitan and filled with things to do. This year I am farther out and it’s more of a pain to get into places, but my apartment has lots of the things I missed out on last year. All in all, it’s good.
I miss you all very much! There will be an update soon! Aiming for a twice a month kind of thing!

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Odds and ends and summer again?

Before I do anything else, I must tell you about Lebanon.

I went with two very dear friends to Beirut at the end of February and had the time of my LIFE. This is a country you MUST visit. Forget the sensationalized cockadoodie from the media and listen to me, a Canadian, who was just there. 20 minutes from the Syrian border, at that!
I won’t go in order, but I will me toon some of the delights: the way the streets are cobbled, and depending on which way you turn, you can end up in a Parisian cafe or a fragrant alley in Italy. There’s the way the moonlight catches the blazing lights of a mosque and the sunlight shimmers off a church that stand side by side; the way the downtown bustles with a European feel but sounds Arabic. You are in France and Jamaica and you’re eating knefe–a syrup-doused bun stuffed with syrupy cheese. You are walking along a boardwalk with trendy locals and watching the sure remains of the bombed out buildings from the 80s. You travel up a winding mountain road, stopping in the mist to eat a labnah and zataar wrapped crepe while an elderly gentlemen points out, among the many bills in the glass case, a Canaduan 50 dollar bill. You watch the crops in the valleys below as you speed by crumbling houses and vegetable stands on your way to Baalbek; the oldest Roman ruin in the world. Walking amongst the rocks and pillars, your Lebanese friend offers a dash of historical anecdotes here and there. You savor the history and the mountains until you head to Beirut again, this time to a family dinner where a man plays an ude and sings classic Arabic songs as the family dances and smokes Hubble bubble. You feel yourself grow giggly as you sip your green tea with mint in the confines of this poorly ventilated stone restaurant that serves the best fatteh you’ve had.

Lebanon to me cannot be explained, it must be experienced: tasted, touched, heard, and loved. It’s like a teabag with a spice from every country, rich with history and alive with people who are layered with love, culture and experience. This place has had more than its share of heartache, and yet you feel like you can’t quite feel it sometimes through the waves of French language, the smiles of the people, the sweetness of the fruit, and the green of the trees. Lebanon has wineries, Roman ruins, and even the dropping, mysterious caves of the jeita grotto. Do yourself a favor and GO. I was lucky enough to have a tour guide, my sweet friend who is a native and showed us around. Her family now feels like our own, and I will always remember Lebanon fondly because of the wonderful trip she have us.

Here are some of the things I have come to love and which are part of my life. I will struggle without them!
– zataar
-fatteh
-KDD chocolate milk
-rocket leaves
-green tea with mint
-hindbeh
-ginger cubes and coconut together

I am having a great time. Kuwait is getting hot again which is crazy because it seems like winter just got here! My next excursion is Paris for the second time with Megs in April!
More to come! In the meantime, I’m off to bed because we have a garlic-themed dinner party tomorrow!!!

ruins, oceans, markets, and

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Camel MANIA!

The best thing that could have ever happened to me in the desert happened to me on Thursday, the 15th of November. I got to go to a camel farm with some friends, and spend the day petting, kissing, and riding camels! This was a source of constant excitement for me during the week, and by the time Thursday rolled around, I was flipping out with eagerness. My iPhone was charged and ready for pictures, my mind was ready and prepped to have an amazing day, and my hands were shaking at the thought of snuggling and stroking the sweet little camels.
We drove out the the desert, where lots of people choose to ‘camp’. I use camp in quotations because this isn’t the “let’s set up the tent and enjoy some wieners and hot dogs buns around a fire” kind of camping. These guys go all out. Kuwaitis drag their low-rise couches, Persian rugs, and take these huge, elaborate water tanks to hang out in the desert for a while. It’s crazy and over the top, like everything else in this country.
So the man we went to see has a camel farm and right when we arrived, the camels were called over for lunch. It was amazing. There you are just standing in the middle of this camel ambush as they walk-trot towards you for lunch. I managed to corner and molest one before it got to its dinner, stroking its little camel nostril and little camel eyes. I kissed the daylights out of that camel, make no mistake. That camel was FONDLED.
Next we went to see the camels eat lunch. Lunch is dates, and let me tell you, they enjoy their dates. Foaming at their cute little fuzzy mouths, these guys were munching and crunching away happily. At one point I was bashed into when one of them was trying to get closer to the big tub of food. 
There was a moment of confusion and hilarity when I was petting a camel who decided to move toward me. I back up, and as I did, I slipped out of my sandal, which he promptly stood on. I made every attempt to push him out of the way and grab my shoe, but I just ended up laughing. Pictures are posted below!
Riding a camel was another interesting experience, because it was a bit jostly and higher than a horse. Still, it was amazing, and it was a feeling that almost familiar. Perhaps I was an Arab in another life!
At then end of the excursion we got to drink camel milk, which was a bit of a disappointment. It was foamy on top, and the milk itself tasted like part skim milk, part hot water, and a few tablespoons of salt. Others exclaimed it was “surprisingly sweet”, but I’m not sure where this description came from!

Anyways, it was an amazing experience. Check out my photos for proof!

 

Love and miss you all! Image

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