Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sand storm

This picture is from this morning’s newspaper.  This is how it looked yesterday and much of today!! It is not only difficult to see but also to breathe.  Many people wore masks or held tissues in front of their mouth and nose.  I suppose those who wear the scarves and head coverings have definitely one up on those of us who don’t….I’m thinking I may have to reconsider my thinking about this and keep something with me at all times. A pretty colorful scarf.  I don’t think black is my color.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

…the sand and camels…part 2

We spent Saturday experiencing an Arabian Camp!  This was an event sponsored by AWARE (Advocates for Western Arab Relations)

This organization hosts many events, classes, etc. for the western expats to participate in learning about the Arab culture. 

Since first arriving one cannot help but notice the tents in the dessert, alongside the highways….some just behind the city housing.  Its very curious….so we signed up to head out to camp!!

Games, camel rides, buggy rides(atv) big buffet lunch at dining tables with linens even…in the middle of the desert…how cool is that???  It was a great experience.

Souks and sand and camels, oh my!!!!

A souk is an open air market and they have them for everything!!!  Throughout the city you can find the plant souk, shoe souk, carpet souk, pottery souk, etc.  

The Friday souk, is unique because it is everything all in one place.  New and used items….one huge (what we would call a flea market)  This place has about 6 of these large circle areas filled with people selling everything from plastic waste cans to furniture, shoes, clothing, carpets, fabrics, brass and marble gifts.  Men with green wheel barrels follow around behind you waiting to assist you in carrying your purchases.  Then, when you are ready ,they bring it to your car. some vendors speak English well, but others have learned a few choice phrases…..DISCOUNT,  Madame, Madame,   discount here….if you show interest in a skirt they  bring out as many as they can find in their stash! 

(Check out the last pic….couldn’t resist…head is covered….with black baseball cap!!!)

There are animal souks too!   We came across this bird souk…selling parakeets, canaries, doves, roosters and chickens, and doves.  The birdseed is sold out of burlap bags.  Then we saw these plastic bird feeders….for outdoor birds.  I am so excited!  I love to hear and see the birds and we do have them around our home.  So maybe we can create a little sanctuary for them….one, as explained to us, is for water.  Probably most needed in this dry, hot climate.

So, now I wait for some little visitorsour birdfeeder

Friday, February 19, 2010

Game Night

John and I were sure to  bring our scrabble game and a deck of cards but game night has taken on a new look.  At our housing complex there is a GAME room…that has a dart board, pool table and ping pong as well as an exercise room. Thursday night is the beginning of our weekend, so after dinner we walk over to play.  Both games have been a challenge for me…..Although John lets me do take overs in pool and to step up close to the darts, I find that both games are still a challenge to me……but I have my hopes on being a real pool shark someday.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Definition of Diversity


        The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect.
It means understanding that each individual is unique,
and recognizing our individual differences.  These can be along
the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs,
political beliefs, or other ideologies.  It is about understanding each other and moving beyond
simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the
rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.

In the news….

A great article on the KTAA meeting I attended.

Ha   my first outing alone and my picture is in the paper.  What a hoot!!IMG

Monday, February 15, 2010

The important stuff arrived…..


We have been waiting for the arrival of our belongings.  The first shipment by air came today.  The second shipment by sea won’t be here until mid March.  Seven boxes were delivered to us today.  I was so excited.  Some things to make our villa a home.  John was excited too…he was thinking….some ties, shirts, and shoes.  Well….he was out of the country, so I was in charge of what got packed and when it was to arrive.  As we unpacked each box, I could see the look of disappointment on his face as I exclaimed….oh….my utensils, my cookbooks,  oh that basket will look good here…and look at the sweet faces of those babies, as each grandbaby picture was unwrapped ( 31 frames, to be exact).  Well, honey, now it will seem like “home” .  So what if you wear the same shirt twice in one week?  To be fair, his shoe polish kit, travel coffee mugs and the Bocce Ball game were included!!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A visit to Fahaheel..suburb of Kuwait

Beautiful mall with dancing fountains located at the beach and marina.  South of the city of Kuwait.

Mall At FahaheelCommercial fishing boats and luxury yachts…..Fishing boats 

Marina at Fahaheel

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Art, design, fabric, making friends …..

Well, to my delight, my driver delivered me to the meeting right on time.  The whole way I was trying to capture street names and highways and landmarks to tell John, because he was coming for me in the afternoon.   Well for one thing, honestly unless it is a McDonalds, or Burger King,….all the buildings and native landmarks….sort of look the same to me.  Besides, who really can concentrate on landmarks when you are frightened for you life driving in this city!  And I wasn’t driving, only watching and it confirmed to me why I had a driver!!!

I felt at home as soon as I was seated.  The room was filled with 40 women who are passionate quilters, artists and designers of  fabric and paints from all over the world .  I was greeted by an American from Colorado , a woman from Venezuela, another from England and Germany, and India and Canada and Saudi Arabia.  Oh my gosh…..I was in awe…..of what I was experiencing.  I joined the group and signed up for workshops and you know…I am so glad I packed my sewing machine….and quilting supplies.  There are upcoming events; shopping at fabric souks and garden parties to look forward to.  After exchanging emails and phone numbers and receiving many tips on living in Kuwait from the experienced expats, I headed out front to wait for John.   Thinking there is no way he really will be able to find me.  So, I thought I will call him and have someone give him directions…..only my phone wouldn’t work….it needed a pin #….I wasn’t told about a pin #…my phone is broke, and all my numbers are in the phone…so, I can’t call John.  But I could call the manager of our housing( I had his business card)…oh he will send a driver, no, he doesn't know John’s number, but don’t worry we will find you.  My new friends gathered around to witness my saga,  and to keep me company until I was found.  An hour later, I am apologizing and embarrassed and trying to send them on their way, when JOHN pulls up in front. How did you get here?……I’m so glad to see you…..what’s wrong with your phone….oh call off the driver,  goodbye new friends…see you next week….MAN, did they have to know how I am so soon?????  No matter where I go….some things will always stay the same…..Guess it’s good they know right up front.

Out in the country for some quiet and fresh air

Debbie in desert

Wish I had brought a shovel and a bucket…can you imagine the kind of sand castle I could build?


I scour the newspapers daily.  Reading the world news is particularly interesting from the Middle East point of view.  So we subscribe to both the Arab Times and the Kuwait News.  It gets delivered to my front door each morning.  So I read about what is happening in Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Korea, Australia, US etc….there are many pictures of the White House in DC buried in snow!  I want to know and I suppose am now more interested than ever….what is going on,  literally, in my back yard.  The second reason is to find out What’s Happening!!  That is where I found out about the KTAA…Kuwait Textile Arts Association.   Tuesday evening I attended a meeting held at the Sadu hear a woman speak about textiles in Mali.   (John was my driver to take me to the event. )  I walked into a room filled with women of many nationalities. KTAA Meeting                    Leotta Haynes (in the blue robe) talked of Malian Textiles

Mali fabric mud dyed by hand The fabric is white to begin with and using a dye they make out of leaves of a plant and rich river mud.  They paint the dark leaving a design in white.Mali tie dyed fabric This fabric was tie dyed. Leotta showed pictures of a Mailian woman              stirring dye in a large kettle over an open fire.

Knowing I was going to this talk, I spent over an hour researching the people and country of Mali.  Thanks to the internet I treated myself to learning of another culture, in Western Africa.

My adventure out this evening resulted in meeting a woman from Canada who is the Group Coordinator for the Kuwait Quilt Group, inviting me to attend their meeting the next day.  Oh yes….I am going to meet some ladies!!!

Saturday, February 6, 2010


We had read in the Kuwait Times of camel races this weekend!!!  However, it wasn’t really clear as to where.  We received directions from a manager of our housing and after a bit of wandering asked again at a gas station…..the man was extremely happy to help us out and to practice his speaking of the English language.  We had asked, where are the camel races?   He gave us a very odd look as if we were asking where are the igloos.  That may be why his directions did not lead to the camel races either.  However, when we saw the sign at the next exit indicating DESERT…..we figured that was a good start.   It wasn’t too long, and not far from our villa when we had to come to a stop. CAMELS! in the road, crossing the road, running through the sand.  One was very curious  and began to approach the car.   John has the camera aimed and focused thinking the zoom lens was working great…no realizing he and the camel were face to face until he snapped the photo.  Both he and the camel startled!!!!!

I suppose this is no different than coming upon deer at the road back home, but camels????  We were excited.  We drove into the desert to see the herds closer. They make a very odd sound……sort of like a moo and a growl.  Other than that sound, the desert is a very still and quiet place.  It helps us to understand the many “camps” in the desert.  It is a peaceful rest from the city life.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My ears, eyes and heart are wide open!

I am sooooooo glad that this is not my first time in the country!!! I think the Culture Shock hit me hardest then. Standing in the airport,walking on the streets, it is obvious we are foreigners. I've traveled with John many places in Europe where we really don't dress or look much different from those who are German, English, French..until we speak. Here I am light skinned, dress different, I stand out in the crowd. The stranger who can be seen from afar, I am stared at; surrounded by "cultural" difference. The one thing that is universal, I have found that if I give a smile, I most often get one in return.  Even the women whose eyes are all that can be seen, a smile is detected .  There are many nationalities here in Kuwait. I am very thankful most all people speak English, and for some, several other languages as well. (that in itself is very humbling)

There is a lot of western influence seen here; McDonalds, Applebees, Sears and Ace Hardware for example. The malls are large, modern and actually expensive. There is a store, much like Walmart, with groceries as well as household products, toys etc. There are many things similar; yet even more things different.
I ventured out for grocery shopping on my own yesterday. I walked around wide eyed like a little girl in a candy store.   The variety of foods was astounding. The produce section in particular. Its not so much as what was there, but where it came from. Basically nothing is produced in Kuwait. Its a desert. So almost everything comes from another country. The avacado is from Kenya, potatos from Saudi Arabia, green beans from India, plums, Spain and strawberries from S. Africa. Lettuce and squash I bought from Holland, and peppers from Italy and dates and raisins come in from Iran. I also got Egyptian beef sausage to put in spagetti sauce and we are trying Phillipino toast for breakfast.  What a hoot! I was giddy inside myself to discover my world getting larger.