Routine and yet, not

Life has settled into a routine by now. Mind you, I am still amazed on a daily basis by various things here: crazy drivers, construction, green, construction, servitude, construction…  Routine consists of getting to school with Gabe and Daniel by about 6:25 am and climbing to the 3rd floor then on duty downstairs by 6:45. Students come for first period by 7:25. Then it’s pretty much go, go, go until 2:00 when students are dismissed. I teach grade 3, then grade 2, grade 1, grade 4, grade 5 in that order with an extra grade 1 on some days. Usually I try to catch the 3:00 bus back to Mahboula (which means, crazy woman, in Arabic. I love that.). I am trying to get in the habit of going to the little workout room they have here and then climb the stairs to the 4th floor. Everyone tells me I will gain weight while here. Ugh. I can see it would be easy to do. Every place delivers: most all the restaurants, the little shops (called bakalas), the person who cuts hair even comes to your home!! That would make it really easy to just stay inside and hardly go out. I have not yet ordered in, and am determined not to.

I am trying to learn as much as I can about this culture and find it quite a contradiction often, in appearance. I posted recently on Facebook about Kuwait’s desire to keep gays out of their country, and yet by observation men are VERY affectionate with one another here. They kiss in public, walk through the mall holding hands or with their arms around one another. NEVER is this done with mixed genders though. So, when I heard about an exhibit of photos of Marilyn Monroe, I was curious. It was a very small exhibit, but I was surprised that it was even allowed in Kuwait. The intern sitting with the exhibit said the market was better in Dubai, so it would be moving there permanently after 2 more exhibits.


  Exhibit tagIMG_1025 

The Last Sitting

in Kuwait?


Following that, we went to a diwaniya sponsored by the AWARE (Advocates for Western-Arab RElations) center, about the Hajj, which is the spiritual journey to Mecca required of physically and economically able Muslims. The thing I was most struck by is how much Islam, Judaism, and Christianity have in common. I admire some Muslims dedication to prayer.  It was a fascinating time and was followed by dinner! I am continually glad to have joined this center. They sponsor some fabulous tours and experiences!


Our speaker at the diwaniya

On a more mundane note, I thought it interesting that ibuprofen is sold without prescription in 400mg or 800mg strength. I think 400mg is the lowest available here. I haven’t sought other meds yet, but others have and have been impressed with the level of care here.

I am currently on Eid Al-Adha break (it begins on the evening of Monday, 10/14 and ends the evening of Tuesday, 10/15, but we get the whole week off!!). It is nice to have more than 2 days to relax and enjoy some down time. I am going out to dinner tonight with a group from school to a Korean restaurant. All types of food are available here, including American, except if it is pork. Weirdly enough, pork, alcohol, etc. are available in the American (and others, like Canadian) Embassy and if you have connections you can get it. My buddy teacher has connections on the pork, but I am not craving it. Many teachers are traveling over this break, but until the sale of my house is finalized (yes, it is under contract!) I will not be traveling.



Where do I start?


Lucia in hijab & abaya


all dressed up


photo of poster showing prayers during Ramadan


courtyard for outside prayers, which is as big as the inside

I have written about the Grand Mosque tour a little in emails and on Facebook, but haven’t put it here. This was quite an experience as all the women in the group had to have a scarf over their hair and around their face (hijab) and wear a long cloak (abaya) before we were allowed to enter.  We walked around the enormous place and were amazed at the grandness of it all. Mosaic tiles in beautiful patterns adorn all the walls inside. During Ramadan many thousands come to pray at the Grand Mosque and they accommodate them even out on the sidewalk and in the streets.  It’s hard to tell from the photo of the poster, but it looks pretty amazing. There is a huge outer courtyard area that is tiled with slabs of marble and has a misting system hung above it so when people are praying and it is still 150°F at midnight there is a way to cool them.  Inside the Grand Mosque we had to take off our shoes and were amazed at the ornate decorations! We were able to view an exact replica of the original Quran.  Prayers are recitations in song chant of portions of the Quran. Sometimes they have a speaker and there is a chair and pulpit for that purpose. The chandeliers are all German crystal. There are 4 hanging chandeliers and they each weigh a ton!


one-ton German crystal chandelier

After an interesting and lengthy visit at the Grand Mosque we decided to go to the Heritage Souk. It was a massive maze of tiny little shops selling everything from shoes to fish to toys to produce. It was a fascinating place and we had a delicious lunch in one of the shops.

My birthday was fun in that the students in almost every class sang Happy Birthday to me in both English and Arabic. Then Kelly, Gabe, Daniel, and I went to the Marina Mall. It was a bit smaller than the Avenues, and had a gorgeous view of the marina.


pedestrian walkway over road to Marina Mall


Inside center of mall


view of marina from the mall

Then we went to a favorite Lebanese restaurant for dinner. It was a great day! My birthday twin, Lucia gave me a Romanian birthday blessing that involved pinching my ears and a kiss on the forehead. I found it quite moving.


Lucia, my birthday twin

That weekend was the cruise to Kubbar Island. This island is basically a big sandbar with a cell tower and trash on it. It was mostly for the younger crowd to mingle. There were people from several schools as well as local business people. The water was warm and wonderful. Fish swam around our feet and we had to watch out not to step on sea urchins! I expected to get rather sunburned, but apparently the layer of dust in the atmosphere filters the sun. We grilled out on the beach and then headed back.


Kubbar Island (sandbar really)


The folks from the cruise


sunset on Kubbar Island (don’t mind the trash)


the yacht

Yesterday was a teacher in-service day, so no students. It was rather nice. We got a lot done too. Then last night I went with another couple of people to see live theater. A group, again made up of locals and teachers, sang  songs from various Broadway, West End, and movie musicals.  It was good fun, but a late night.

I’m taking it easy the rest of the weekend. I have felt very run down,  and off again-on again queasy, with head and body aches. It hasn’t been severe enough to really take me down, but I hope to nip it in the bud by taking it easy