Saturday, September 1, 2007

First Day of Work (In 3 Pictures)

Yes, 30 foreigners on the bus. Bus breaks down on way to work. Cops come. Herd foriegners into shade. Rescue bus. Welcome to my commute.
My morning in three pictures:

Friday Souq (Market)

This was the Friday market I mentioned earlier. The guys at the top run around with green wheelbarrows, and they carry your things for a tip. I tried and tried to get them to go away, but lets face it- you really don't want to be carrying a carpet, two brooms, 64 hangers, three drying racks and a (malfunctioning) coffee grinder in 120 degree heat. Just suck up and use the damn servants.

I also don't know how to get the font to stop underlining, so forgive me.

Sorry guys

I thought those pictures had been published yesterday, and apparently they were saved to draft. Enjoy. I'll be victimizing you with a new set in a few minutes.

Not much happening. I just ran an inpromptu clinic for How to Log On to Wifi From Your Laptop In A Starbucks for three women. They're website was down, so I ended up doing some half-cheeked Tech Support with a barrista and some man from down the street and another guy on the phone.

Point being, we're on and nothing else really matters.

If I didn't mention it, the weekend here in a Muslim state is Friday Saturday. It used to be Thursday Friday, but they changed it yesterday. So everyone is just taking a three day weekend. Today was my first official work day. We had a brunch and a tour of the city- I have pictures of that too. Including the Fish Souq, which was smell-er-riffic in 120 degree heat (the inside was cool).
I'm ribaldly tired- woke up at 3 again and ran a load of laundry. Washing machine proceeded to walk across the floor on spin cycle. Felt bad for person underneath.

Also note- there are no dryers here. You put your stuff out on a drying rack, or hang it on a line outside your window. Peg it well, because if it floats down to the street the next time you see your skivvies, will be on the neighbor. Same goes with what you put in your trash.

If things sound like they change at a moments notice- they do. Let me post some pictures.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Salmiyah District, Kuwait City

My flat

More Adventures

Ok guys, I have a lot of pictures for you that I'll be uploading in a minute. They're of my flat, and the surrounding area.

I'm very proud of myself, I can actually claim now to have been out and about in 120 degree heat. You have to be careful, the warning sign is that your stomach starts to hurt and then you need to go inside.

Just a tip- if you're ever in the Middle east, always score the front seat in a cab. Closest to the air conditioning unit.

All right, some back story. I have been here now for 3 full days. The whole building, some seven floors, is dotted with teachers from my school in various stages of jet lag and arrival. They all seem nice enough, but they're all older. Into their forties and such.

If there is a school event, drivers come around in this vehicle that looks like a VW Bus on steroids and take us all at once. I feel a little off- I'm the youngest except one.

There is a Friday Market, or Souq, that we would call a Flea Market. You can go there and get anything and everything. The condition is, you have to bargain. Lots and lots of teachers wanted to go out to it today, some only arriving the day before. You see, Kuwait has lots and lots of oil and very little of anything else. Anything that we would usually get at a Dollar Store in California goes 12-15 dollars here. So all of us in these new flats are looking for things for cheap. Basic things like measuring cups and paper towels and bathmats.

Yes, there is an Ikea here, but no one has been able to find it yet.

Well, there are only two of us who have been here long enough (or have the balls) to venture out and find the way home, because we really don't have an address. In fact, two months ago the building we are living in wasn't there, but that's a different story. So every time we go more than a block of way it's a crapshoot trying to get back.

Well, only four of us fit in a taxi, and there were some 12 of us going. I got hooked up with two older women (one with a terrible head cold, the other who is still on the plane in almost every sense) and we ended up having to be rescued from a coffee shop because neither of them brought water and the cab driver didn't actually know how to get us home. I've had a busy day.

So I called the Principle, and he came and got us, and I explained the situation, and he and his wife took me and a couple other people back to his house for free wireless and breakfast. Very nice.

Enough. Now for pictures.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

At Last.

I apologize deeply to all of you waiting for my safe arrival. I'm here, I'm alive, and WiFi is damn hard to come by.

Kuwait. Well, let me just say, I keep waiting for the stagecoach to roll by. That's what kind of hot and dusty it is here.

Let me start by answering some questions:

No I am not freaking out. I'm here, I'm not nervous or scared, and now that I have internet and coffee things are just about damn perfect.

Veils: yes. Lots and lots of people wear them. They are a fashion statement. Some are blinged out. With real damn bling. I was in Passport Control, looked over and saw the Passport Control for "Veiled Ladies". That's when this place got real. To the people here, it's just like you'd put on a jacket or any other article of clothing. Personally, i think a lot of the women look prettier with it.

The Flight: as flights go, it was pretty smooth. I happened to be stuck in the back middle of the plane, breaking up a very nice older Hindi family enroute to Hyderabad (you think MY flight is long). The also sat for four and five hours at a stretch. Poor Ciocia, sitting next to me, a bajillion years old and couldn't get her seat to lean back. She was sleeping slumped over her meal tray until I found out the problem and gave her a hand.

The longest part was actually the plane ride from Frankfurt to Kuwait. Longest 4 hours of my life- can I tell you I hate the screen with the little plane on it? Apparently the Captain thought he'd just fly over Kuwait, then fly back. I was watching the little plane make a corkscrew on the screen, asking the flight attendant "Can we just park?"

Arrival: I was actually afraid no one was going to meet me, and I was met by Curly and Larry, my Principal and the IT Coordinator. One is Castillian Spanish, and the other is Kuwaiti. A very warm welcome, and they took me to my flat, gave me money and then took me to the most incredible Iranian food ever, on the next block. All things to make me very happy indeed. After, I went back to the flat and unpacked.

My flat: brand spankin new. Has trouble with the plumbing. I called the "Harris" (maintenance guy) about the inch of water on the bathroom floor. Notwithstanding, he shoved his arm down the drain and came up with six or seven piles of gravel that would have ballast a tanker. Problem solved.

Um, the floors are marble. The bathroom and kitchen is tile. Pictures will be later- I dropped the camera batteries while we were banking off Frankfurt. Beautiful, beautiful flat.

Our building (I don't have the address on me) is a building specificially full of teachers from our school, so I will be talking about them later.

Weather: it is hot here. There is no comparison for the United States so I will not bother. Turn your oven on to 350 and sit on the door for a while. That's what it is like, but all over your body.

Food: everything is tasty. Coffee is about the same price as there. All we're eating is Indian and Iranian food right now, because we're darting from Air Conditioning to Air Conditioning. Yes, they have a lot of junk food places but everyone avoids them on principle.

Country: I only got in last night- I'm 10 hours ahead of you guys so keep that in mind. I haven't seen anything but the driving isn't as insane as I thought it would be. The driving is the same side as the United States, nothing different there.

The funniest thing (to me) so far, has been being gawked at. The administration tries to prepare you for it, but they can't. It isn't sexual and it isn't invasive, it's just curiosity. The kitchen staff actually stopped what they were doing last night at the Iranian Restaurant, and came to the doorway to look at me! When I saw all the faces around the doorway I started to laugh so hard, I can't explain why. To me, I'm just me. To them, I'm not just me. It made me laugh.

Strange details: no sidewalks. Insides of stores, malls and flats are very nice. Outside, looks like a lot of laundry and the U.S. Army pulling out three hours ago. Inside, things, women, little details are just...nicer. Outside, men walking around in long white gowns. And if you've thought you met Macho, you haven't seen Kuwati Attitude making those long white gowns Piiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimp. They do.

I have to go do some shopping with some other teachers. I'll try and post at least once a day- my battery is getting low. email me with questions.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Less than 24 hours left

and thank all things holy I started prepping this move in May, because if I had waited even a week more I think I might have missed my flight tomorrow.

So of course I'm being responsible and eating Chinese leftovers, while posting to my blog. S'good.

I saw Pan Dyrektor Friday night. We had dinner-he drove from Santa Rosa and I drove from Sacramento to meet in Walnut Creek. By the time we sat down, both of us were ready to fall asleep in the soup. Not much for a goodbye, but he's still sleeping on top of unpacked boxes and I'm, well, living out of suitcases.

It's a pure, unadulterated luxury to put my feet up and stare at my luggage, though. When I think of how much I've done in the last five months, stuffing clothes in suitcases is laughable easy.

Was laughably easy. It's 11:30 and I'm done, done done.