Sunday, April 13, 2008

So much to say

Fair warning: this post is going to cover a lot of ground. Lots has happened lately.

Luanne's Visit

Luanne is a professional photographer, so virtually all the photos you will see above are taken by her.

My aunt Luanne is teaching in Saudi Arabia and had a long weekend to come up and visit us about a week ago. She was feeling adventurous and decided to take the bus that runs between here and Dammam. We picked her up downtown Kuwait late Thursday night and then had crazy whirlwind adventures the rest of the weekend, which is pretty par for the course when it comes to Luanne.

On Friday, we lounged around the house for a bit, introducing Lu to our new cat Milo (we hadn't told her we had gotten a cat yet...) but luckily she liked him well enough even though she generally doesn't like cats. We then went to the
Avenues Mall so that we could go grocery shopping at Carrefour for a lamb roast that we were going to cook for dinner as our (late) Easter celebration. Also it gave us an opportunity to show Luanne a typical Kuwaiti past time: going to the mall (whee!). She is also an IKEA fan so we also ran through IKEA while there.

We came home and cooked the lamb roast the rest of the day, while she got more of a tour around our compound and took more photos. After dinner (which was terrible I must say), we drove up to the Kuwait Towers and Kerri, Rowan and Luanne got to see them for the first time. It was a very enjoyable experience as the towers are quite spectacular at night and the lighting was very interesting and made for some great photos as you can see in the slideshow. We also found out that there is a buffet in the restaurant that is pretty reasonable, so Kerri and I will be going back some time for one of our Saturday night outings.

On Saturday, we again slept in and lounged about for the morning, then towards lunch we all walked over to Mangaf and got some juice at our local juice bar, and also got more stew from the Afghani's store, and next door some of the fresh bread that you can get for real cheap. We made a good lunch of all that, and Kerri and Lu went out clothes shopping in the afternoon.

That night we (Kerri, Lu and I) headed down to Fahaheel to walk about and eat dinner. We showed her our seaside shisha spot, walked to the mall and had some coffee by the fountain, and then walked over to the souks so Lu could help Kerri buy an abaya and hijab. Kerri's been wanting the option of wearing one, and Luanne has more experience then any of us with that living in Saudi. I also got to inquire regarding the cost of having a dishdash made and generally we had a great time.

On Sunday morning we walked down to the Al Kout fish market to try and catch the auction before it closed down. We just missed it, but were able to buy 2 fish from one of the stands in the market and then walk down to the Fish Oasis restaurant where our fish were promptly deep fried (grilling is an option too) and we ate fried fish for breakfast (delicious!). Then we walked up to the Al Manshar mall, to the Rotunda Hotel, asking if there was a viewing deck to take some pictures from. We were told to take the elevator to the top, and were stunned to find a swimming pool, restaurant, and shisha bar up there, along with an amazing view of Fahaheel spread out below us. The pictures she got almost don't even look real, more like a model of a proposed development, but they are! Then we went home and swam some. Later Kerri and Lu went to a salon to get a pedicure, while Rowan and I went to the best restaurant in Fahaheel (a hole in the wall) to get a couple of roast chickens, hummous, moutabel, fresh bread and pickles for dinner.

All in all, I think Lu got a really good taste of our lives here, and I think she had a good time. Ok, so it was short on adventure, but there was plenty of fun had all around.

Kuwait's First Hurricane?

On Friday night, we went to a Bible study that meets in our complex, and on our way there, we noticed very dark clouds and some lightening. We never see this kind of weather here, so it was notable, and the thunder continued throughout the night. There were a couple of rain drops, but nothing more.

The next morning, the news on all the Kuwaiti blogs and news sites was quite amazing! Apparently, there was a genuine storm that swept the tip of Kuwait City (Salmiya) that sticks out into the Gulf. There were very powerful winds that shattered glass, hail the size of marbles fell, and rain like we NEVER see here! The damage is quite extensive and one friend estimates 2 weeks of cleanup before things return to normal. Street signs broken, trees uprooted. It's a mess. Anyway, quite a bit of excitement all around. A good blog with lots of pictures and video on it is 248am if you are interested in more information.

Abu Khaled strikes again!

Last night was Saturday, and we began our time without Rowan by walking down to our favorite shisha spot, intending to then find a restaurant, have dinner and head home like usual. I hadn't spoken with Abu Khaled, my Kuwaiti friend, for quite some time, and each time I've called him recently, he's been busy in Ras Al Khaima, one of the Emirate states. I figured it had been a while, so I'd give him a ring and see what was up. This is always a bit dangerous, as you never know what he might end up doing, but it had to be done.

Turns out he was nearby and wanted to stop and have some shisha and tea with us. So he drove his brand new Landrover (he was eager for us to see it) over to where we were, and we sat out by the sea, watching people fishing and enjoying shisha and tea for an hour or so. After this, he said he wanted to show us something he'd been working on, if we could join him. We were concerned that our maid should know we would be late, so we asked if he could drive us home so we could let her know, and asked if we could show him our place. He agreed and came up. He had previously been very concerned when I told him we lived in Mangaf, as it's not a very nice area at all (generally). I had tried to tell him that our place was different, but he didn't get it. Once he saw our place he said he totally understands and thought our place was excellent. We then got back in his car and he drove us a short distance to where is friend's house is being built. Abu Salem (his friend) is very busy these days and can't be in the country to oversee his house being built, so Abu Khaled is covering for him. The house is still being built, and is pretty much just concrete now, but the outlines of it are pretty much done, it just needs finishing touches (i.e. paint, plumbing, electrical, etc...). house is amazing. It's very nice architecturally, apparently Abu Khaled is responsible for the design, the house (er...mansion?) forming a quarter of a half circle, which is then completed by an arch of trees that surround another quarter of land which will be a garden. The house has a sunken courtyard, from which the basement area is accessed. The basement area will have a pool, jacuzzi, sauna, etc..., kitchen, and general family area. The second floor is where the main reception area will be located, the two wings to either side probably for formal hosting and dining. There were 2 more floors above this, so a total of 4 floors. It will be stunning when complete. Abu Khaled has great plans for the lighting and little details of design. He said this is not really his style personally, but since his friend has asked him to oversee it, he definitely has opinions on how to make it as tasteful as possible. The bizarre part of all this being that we were traipsing around this empty construction site, in the dark, alone, dressed nicely (him in his dishdash, Kerri in her skirt), stepping on stones to get over standing water. It was a very surreal experience, but quite fun.

Then he insisted on driving us to where he'd like to take us next weekend which is the Kuwait International Fair, where they have rotating displays, kind of like an Expo center. There is a mini-go kart track there for the kids to enjoy, so hopefully next weekend we'll get to hang out with him and his family again.

After this he took us to a restaurant in Hawally (by the way, this is bouncing all over Kuwait) where he showed us what he described as a "very clean" but nice simple food restaurant, where he insisted on buying us some shawarma and fruit juice that was very good. At this time, we said we *had* to get home so our maid could go home after staying late to watch Rowan.

All in all, a very fun but strange experience. Abu Khaled is a fascinating guy with very interesting opinions on everything. Never a dull moment, that's for sure!

I think that brings us up to date. We'll try and be better about about posting in the future so we don't do monstrous posts like this.


Miriam said...

Wow. Fantastic pictures. It's so fun to see more of the place you live!

Kerri - you look really lovely in these shots. Just thought I'd tell ya.

Love you all!

Kerri said...

Thanks Mir. I think it probably has something to do with the photographer . . . :)