Month: September 2014

Lots & Lots of Deodorant

I think we have published about 30 or so posts thus far, and you have probably noticed a common theme among all of them by now . . . . . it’s hot in Kuwait!  With the heat comes sweat, yuck!  I’m proud to be a natural born sweater.  I think about heat, and I swear that I will break out in a sweat.  With sweat, comes the need for deodorant, lots and lots of deodorant!

Some of you already now that I’m not to keen on “change.”  Sure, I can quit my job, sell our house and change our lifestyle, however the thought of changing the little things in my life freaks me out!  For example, I order the same exact things at every restaurant we ever go to.  For as long as I can remember, I have ordered the same exact sandwich at Subway. When we go to Chipolte, sure I look at all of the choices of toppings for my burrito, but I always order the same exact thing.  Another thing that I could never change is the type of deodorant I use.  For as long as I can remember, I have used Old Spice – Sweat Defense: Pure Sport.  Before we left Minnesota, my plan was to buy about a dozen of them so I could survive the intense heat and sweating in Kuwait.  For whatever reason though, life got busy before we left and I totally forgot to stock up!

Once we arrived in Kuwait, and after using about 20 “clicks” of D.O. per day, I quickly realized that I should have sent a freight container of deodorant with us! When we went on our first grocery store run here, I took a look and realized that they didn’t have any Old Spice deodorant! I had a minor meltdown in the D.O. aisle before settling on another brand. I was crushed that my loyalty with Old Spice was over, and I was forced to make a change.  For about the next two weeks, every time we would go to a store, I would go straight to the deodorant aisle to see if they had my kind. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it at any stores, until one day, I stumbled upon it!

I was at a new branch of the Sultan Center (a grocery store chain here) searching the deodorant aisle for my treasure.  Just like the other four stores I checked, I was unsuccessful.  As I was walking out of the aisle, I happened to take a glance at the section of toothpaste when SUDDENLY my eye caught something!  In the middle of the display featuring all of the toothpaste, brushes, floss, etc. was my deodorant! I wanted to shout with glee, but instead gave a double fist-pump.  Knowing how hard it was to find, I grabbed every single stick of deodorant that they had . . . . . all five of them!  With the other groceries in my hands, I couldn’t even grab all of them so I had to go and find a basket to carry everything.  The good news is I found my favorite deodorant, the bad news is that it will probably only last about 2 weeks before I’m on another wild goose chase trying to find another stash of them!

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The best deodorant ever! This supply should last me about 2 weeks or so.

For some of you, you are probably thinking right now, ” I can’t believe I just wasted 5 minutes of my day reading about how crazy O.C.D. Mitch is when it comes to his deodorant.”   However the rest of you are probably thinking, “dude, I feel your pain. I use the same deodorant all the time too!”

-Cheers, have a great “sweat less” day!

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Kuwaiti Wedding

I did something this weekend I only dreamed would happen during our time in Kuwait, I attended a Kuwaiti wedding.  It was such a beautiful and special event full of so much tradition.  There is no way I will be able to paint a picture with my words of how extraordinary it was but I know if I don’t try I will complete regret not sharing some of this amazing event.

How we got invited: Kuwaitis are known for being very hospitable but it still took me by complete surprise that on Thursday when my friend Jooles meet the mother of one of her students that she invited her to her daughters wedding….scheduled for the following evening!  Jooles of course did the polite midwestern thing and politely declined.  The Mom followed up with Jooles on Friday morning telling her how she really would love to show her a traditional Kuwaiti celebration and told her that she was more than welcome to invite a few friends, enter Niamh and Rachel!

IMG_0002_2What to wear: When Jooles texted on the morning of the wedding and asked if I wanted to go with her, I of course had a typical girl melt down, what do I wear?

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Jen is a returning expat and has become our own personal Kuwaiti Encycoldia, she has been unbelievable helpful so if Jen says go fancy, we have to go fancy!

I knew I needed to put together a fancy outfit but here in lies the problem, I just moved to the desert to teach, and only had clothes that were suitable for circle time and recess duty. If teachers are nothing else though they are resourceful so somehow in my stash of cardigans and denim jumpers covered in apple appliqués I found a black dress, black heels, some tights, and a black scarf to cover my hair and shoulders if I needed to be more conservative.

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Driver: The fabulous Kuwaiti hospitality jumped into affect once again as it was time to leave for the wedding.  The mother of the bride sent a driver for us  (as if she didn’t have anything else to think about, on the day her daughter was getting married.) Having a driver is a pretty typical thing here in Kuwait, Mitch and I have a driver in fact, his name is Abdul and he drives a white and yellow taxi cab.  The driver who came to pick us up for the wedding wasn’t in a white and yellow taxi, they were in a black Mercedes. We didn’t realize it at the time but we were his main responsibility for the evening.  He came and picked us up, dropped us off at the wedding and then stood outside and waited for us to be ready to go home…..for 6 hours.

IMG_0058_2Arrival: We arrived at the wedding at about 8:15 p.m. for a wedding start time of 8:30.  15 minutes early is very typical of how I would arrive to a wedding in the US, but clearly that wasn’t protocol at this Kuwaiti wedding.  We were one of the first to arrive and guests continued to arrived for the next two and half hours.  The bride made her first appearance at 11:00 p.m.

The Fashion: I followed Jen’s advice and went fancy with my clothes (or as fancy as I could scrounge up out of my wardrobe that almost exclusively has clothes from Target in it) however; I was not prepared at all for how significantly under dressed I would be. As the women arrived at the wedding they were wearing their hijabs and abayas but once they entered the ballroom (where it was exclusively women all the men were in a different ballroom having their own party) they uncovered to reveal the most amazing collection of gowns I have ever seen.  There was gold, sequin, hot pink, diamonds, tight dresses, and cleavage.  This party was clearly more than a wedding, it was a fashion show, and the guests were the models.  Every women who walked through the door looked as if she was just about to walk across the stage at the Oscars.

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Dancing: I didn’t expect to see any dancing at a Kuwaiti wedding because my understanding was that dancing was against Islamic beliefs, however; the ballroom was arranged with stadium seating couches on either side of the ballroom with the middle of the room left open for dancing. After some reading online it sounds like it is against Islamic beliefs to dance at mixed gender gatherings, since it was only women at this party we got our groove on. It was discovered that I have two left feet on both sides of the Atlantic.

Bride’s Entrance: At 11:00 p.m. we got our first sighting of the bride.  Her grand entrance consisted of her walking across the runway shaped dance floor to the opposite side of the room where a stage was set up with a large couch situated for her to sit on.  Once the bride made her entrance she never moved from that couch again.  People were allowed to walk up to her and get their picture taken with her but she didn’t move again until she exited the party 2 hours later.

Groom’s Entrance: As I mentioned earlier this was a segregated party.  All the men were in one ballroom and all the women were in another.  There was however one part in the evening where some of the men were allowed to enter into the women’s party.   As we were all dancing and have a great time an announcement was made in Arabic, which clearly meant that we didn’t have a clue what was going on, which caused all the women to scurry back to their seats and go from the glitter and glam that was the night to once again fully covered in the black that is their abayas and hijabs.  I still don’t know what the announcement was but I assume it was something along the lines of “quick, cover up….the men are coming!”  Once everyone was covered the double doors opened to a groom in his white dishdasha with the biggest smile you have ever seen spread across his face.  Entering with him was both the brides and the grooms immediately family and the band whom we had been listing to all night but whom we had never seen.  These men would be the only men allowed into the women’s party the entire evening.  Upon entering the groom walked toward his bride who was still sitting on the couch in the front of the room kissed her on the forehead and then hugged and accepted congratulations from the men in their families.  The men in the groom’s family had to immediately exit however the brides male relatives remained long enough to take family picture.

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Food: At this point it was 1:00 in the morning when an announcement was made in Arabic and everyone began to stand up and move about.  We foolishly assumed that this meant the wedding was over so we gathered our things and began to make our way to the door.  The mother of the bride saw us heading in that direction and informed us that it was time for dinner and that everyone was just moving to a different ballroom where the buffet was set up.

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We walked into the room with the buffet and were blown away with the amount of food that was being presented to us.

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We proceeded to stuff ourselves on chicken, prime rib, sushi and shrimp.  We could have eaten there for a month and never be able to taste all the options.  IMG_0050_2

The Cake…..MY GOSH, LOOK AT THAT THING!!!!

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The Bride and Groom even cut a piece out of it.

All in all in was a fabulous night.  I feel extremely fortunate to have been included in such an amazing opportunity to learn more about the Kuwaiti culture, and Jooles if you are ever looking for another plus one, count me in!

Please note, as fabulous as this event and the people were on this night we respected local custom and privacy by not taking pictures of the women while they were out of their hijabs and abayas.  Sorry that the only pictures you get are of three very happy American girls!

Tweet Tweet – We’re on Twitter!

For all of you Tweeter-dees and Tweeter-dos, The Might as Wellers are now on Twitter! You can follow us at @mightaswellers or visit our page at here. We are going to continue blogging a few times per week, but Twitter is just another great way to follow our daily adventures in Kuwait.  It’s a great way for us to share a quick photo of something cool we see, tell a funny story (in 140 characters or less), share travel advice and other awesome stuff.  Sometimes it’s easier to throw something on Twitter rather than writing up an entire post for the blog.  Soon, we’ll have a link to our Twitter page on our website, however we are still working our a few technical difficulties with the setup, but hopefully you will see it soon. If you don’t want to be a Tweeter on Twitter, you can always just be a Stalker on Twitter!  I think you still need an account though to view our Twitter page, but you can register for free here.

Best Present Ever

In Rachel’s post of ‘The Things She’ll Miss Most‘ and in my ‘Things I’m going to Miss Most‘ we both mentioned how much we are going to miss our little triplet nieces and nephew! When we left in August they were about 6 months old, and will be about 15 months old the next time we see them in person.  Babies change so fast, especially at this age. We are going to miss fun milestones like rolling over, crawling, standing, walking, and talking.  We are also going to miss things like their first Christmas and Birthday party!  It rips our heart knowing that we can’t be a larger part of their life right now, or be there to help support their parents.  In today’s technological world, we are lucky to stay in touch with them through things like FaceTime, Email, Skype, and apps like WhatsApp and Viber. Before we departed to Kuwait, we received one of the coolest going away gifts ever from the Triplets (thanks to their parents who were thoughtful enough to think to buy us a gift in the middle of some pretty intense sleep depravation). They bought us one of those electronic picture frames that scrolls through hundreds of pictures. The cool thing with this frame though, is that its connected to our wifi network and has its own email address.  That way whenever the triplet’s parents snap a cool picture of them with their iPhones, they simply email it to the designated email address and it automatically pops up on our picture frame!  There have been so many times that we will wake up to a whole slew of new photos.  We have even been sitting in our living room watching a movie or something, and all of a sudden one of us notices we have a bunch of new photos on the frame!  The frame is a great size, about the size of our iPad.  It’s super clear and a ton of fun! The frame is from a company called Pix-Star and you can visit their website here. Here are a few of our favorite photos we have received on the frame thus far:

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It’s fun to walk into the living room and see this happy face on the picture frame!

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When you think babies can’t get any cuter, just add sunglasses

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Nothing better than a baby just after bath time

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Look who’s standing!!!! With a little bit of help 😉

 

The Friday Market

The other day a group of us headed to one of the oldest and most popular markets in Kuwait City called Souk al Jumma, or commonly know as The Friday Market.  This place is a HUGE open-air market that is only open on the weekends.  There are hundreds of vendors who sell just about anything you can imagine, including clothing, rugs, electronics, furniture, toys, antiques, tools, plants, and apparently even animals!  (We didn’t make it to the animal section, but apparently it is not a place for the faint of heart) You would need an entire weekend to walk through the whole place, and it’s highly likely that you would still miss something!

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This is the view inside one of the shelters. There was over a dozen of them, and each one is bigger than a football field!

It’s an outdoor market, and even though all of the vendors are covered by sun shelters, it was an extremely hot typical day in Kuwait when we went.  Our plan was to walk through as many vendors as possible, then when we started feeling light headed, just before we thought we were going to pass out from the heat, we would run inside the adjacent grocery store and cool off in their air conditioning.  We would continue this cycle as many times as possible, before we would surrender to the intense heat.  We didn’t have a “To Buy List” in mind for the market, we just wanted to do a bit of exploring and experience as much of the Friday Market as possible (except the animal section!)  Perhaps the coolest thing about The Friday Market is that all of the prices were super reasonable, and bartering is not only recommended, but extremely encouraged.  There’s not many things that I love more than a good deal, so I was super pumped to do some “wheelin & dealin”

It wasn’t long into our exploration of The Friday Market before my eye caught something familiar . . . . a Minnesota Vikings jersey!  As one of the Vikings’ biggest fans, I was super pumped about my find!  I walked a bit closer and realized it was a #84 – Randy Moss jersey.  The guy hasn’t played for the Vikings since 2004 (besides that weird stint in 2010) but he’s always been one of my favorite players. In fact, I still remember my 16th birthday present in 1998, when my parent’s bought me a Randy Moss jersey during his rookie season.  I don’t know what ever happened to that jersey from 15 years ago, so I knew it was time for me to get a new one. Plus – I realized I needed something to wear during the Viking games. I really wanted this jersey, so I began executing Stage 1 of my ‘wheeling & dealin’ plan!

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Look what I found!!!

 

Stage 1 – Don’t Act Excited

Even though I was super excited about my find, you never want the salesman to see it because then he knows you will pay any price for it.  Therefore I pretended to look at the other merchandise he had for sale, and then “stumbled” into the jersey.

Stage 2 – Laugh at the Price

I asked the vendor how much the jersey was, and he told me 3.000KD, which is equivalent to about $10.50 in the U.S.  I laughed-out-loud at the price and told him I would give 1.000 KD ($3.50).  In broken english he responded with “No, no, sir, I cannot do that. They worth lots of money in your country.”

Stage 3 – Put it Down & Walk Away

I immediately put it down and started walking away. Before I could even leave his small 10′ x 10′ area, he yelled out, “Ok, 2.000KD ($7.00)”  I knew things were going in the right direction but I told him I wasn’t paying more then 1.000KD ($3.50) and continued walking away. I knew I would be back, so I took special note of where he was located.

Stage 4 – The Return Trip

About 30 minutes later, on our way to the grocery store to cool off in the air conditioning, I decided to purposefully walk by the jersey again.  I reminded the guy that I would pay 1.000KD ($3.50) for it, but he said no, so we just kept walking.

Stage 5 – Money Talks

About an hour or so later, I did another one of my purposeful “walk byes.”  This time though, I just held up 1.000KD in cash and kept on walking.  I made eye contact with the guy, but he never initiateded conversation with me. All I could think was, “damn, this guy is good.” It was time to break out Stage 6.

Stage 6 – The Hail Mary

Usually Step 5 seals the deal, so I was bit nervous during this stage based on my inexperience at this level.  I knew I had the guy wrapped around my finger though, so we could get the deal done.  I went back for a THIRD time, and approached the vendor with cash in hand. I decided to up my offer to 1.500KD ($5.00) and explained to him that this was my final offer. He said the lowest he could do was 1.750KD ($6.00).  We were within $1.00 for the jersey, but I was not going any higher!  After a brief discussion, we both realized that neither of us was going to budge on our offers.  With that being said, I decided to walk away WITHOUT the jersey!

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The final negotiations during Stage 6 – The Hail Mary

As much as I wanted the jersey, I wanted to win the negotiating battle even more!  I love the thrill of the hunt and in this case I lost the prize.  He was the more experienced negotiator, or perhaps he knew there was someone else in Kuwait who would buy the vintage Randy Moss jersey from him.  When we go back in a few weeks, maybe he will still be there trying to sell the jersey!

Throughout this whole process, we had a ton of fun at The Friday Market.  We can’t wait to go back later this winter when the weather cools down, and we can explore the market without sweat running into our eyes, causing an uncomfortable burning sensation!  It was fun to just look at the wide variety of merchandise that people were selling, and watching all of the wheelin’ and dealin’ that was going on!

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This vendor was selling various tools, and hundreds of sockets! Could you imagine digging through that pile looking for a 7/16″ socket!

 

The Scientific Center of Kuwait

In case we haven’t sufficiently told you how unbearably hot it has been here in Kuwait, let me tell you one more time: we live in a sauna, a sauna where a hair dryer is constantly blowing on you. This climate has lead me to discover something new about myself: I turn into a crabby, crazy person in the heat.

In order to save my husband from feeling as if he has married the spawn of Freddy Krueger and Naomi Campbell, I started to look for indoor activities for us to explore in Kuwait.  Enter: The Scientific Center of Kuwait.

The Scientific Center of Kuwait has a small Kid’s Discovery Zone with some science based experiments, a huge iMax Theatre, and a great aquarium.  It also met our top 3 requirements to do last weekend:

1. It looked like fun

2. It was indoors

3. It was indoors

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One of our co-worker’s husband was the architect who designed this building!

Unfortunately you can't ride your bike, walk your dog or smoke your hookah outside the Scientific Center.

Unfortunately you can’t ride your bike, walk your dog or smoke your hookah outside the Scientific Center.

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The Scientific Center was located right on the PersianGulf.  If it hadn’t have been 263 degrees outside, I would have gone down and enjoyed the beach.

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BREAKING NEWS: We found Nemo!

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I think this picture does a great job of showing how huge the fish tanks were. It kind of looks like Mitch is standing inside the tank with the sharks.

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I’m assuming he is related to Jaws.

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I love that sting ray’s always have a smile on their face!

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Mitch in a starring contest with a super ugly fish. Mitch lost!

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Awesome Aquarium….and it’s indoors.

Live from Kuwait City, it’s Saturday Night!

As much as I would like to tell you that our Saturday nights involve cheerleader outfits, political parodies, and more cowbell, in reality our Saturday night currently consists of packing lunches, doing laundry, and prepping lesson plans.  Our Saturday nights look nothing like an episode of Saturday Night Live. Now before you go thinking, “man these two are super lame, I am never reading this blog again,” hear me out.

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Saturday evenings are currently spent preparing for the work week, because the work week actually starts on Sunday.  We work from Sunday-Thursday and have Fridays and Saturdays off.  Friday is the Muslim holy day, so the entire country of Kuwait, (and the majority of the Middle East) have a standard work week of Sunday-Thursday.

So far, what this change in the work week has meant for us is that we never know what day of the week it is.  Sunday feels like Monday, Thursday feels like Friday and Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are all a blurry mess.

Adjusting to Life in Kuwait: Recycling

When you decide to move to a new country, you know there is going to be a few things that you will have to get used to.  Moving to Kuwait, we have had to adjust to things like the extreme heat, crazy traffic, no pork/booze, etc. Perhaps one of the hardest things we have had to get used to, is that recycling is virtually non-existent here!

Back home, it was rare if we ever had more than one bag of garbage a week. On the flip side, our recycling dumpster was always completely packed! We were super good about organizing our recyclable materials and took pride that on a weekly basis we were always recycling about twice as much rubbish vs. garbage.

When we arrived in Kuwait, and were dropped into temperatures around 115 degrees, it was a necessity to drink lots of water! Our colleagues advised us not to drink the tap water in our apartment, so we decided to just stick with bottled water.  Everywhere we would go, we would grab a bottle out of the fridge to stay cool and hydrated.  We could never find recycle containers in public, so we would always just bring the bottles back home with us so we could recycle them at our apartment complex. After a few days in Kuwait, and as our collection of empty water bottles was increasing on our countertop, is when we found out that recycling in Kuwait didn’t exist! It is hard to believe that it’s non-existent in a country where people are forced to drink so much bottled water.

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Our collection of empty water bottles, waiting for a recycling container.

Our collection of empty water bottles continued to grow, as neither of us had the courage to throw plastic bottles into the garbage. We were losing precious countertop space, and I knew recycling wasn’t going to magically appear overnight, so I took it upon myself to discard the bottles. However before I did, I used my superhuman strength to crush the bottles as small as I could, in effort to take up as little space as possible in the landfill.

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Before throwing the water bottles in the garbage, I crushed them as small as possible, so they would take up as little space as possible in the landfill.

We knew we emotionally couldn’t handle throwing plastic water bottles away during our time in Kuwait, so we did some thinking of what we could do to save waste. After a bit of research, we found a company in Kuwait called Abraaj Water, where we could order 5 gallon jugs of drinking water, then have them refilled as needed.

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Our new water cooler system from Abraaj Water.

We feel like there are multiple benefits of getting our drinking water this way:

  1. We are doing our part to save on waste and keeping recyclable bottles out of landfills.
  2. We are saving a lot more money purchasing drinking water by the 5 gallon jug vs. a case of 20 oz. bottles. It is just under $2.00 USD per 5 gallon jug.
  3. We are reaping the health benefits of drinking A LOT more water!  Since it is so convenient having a water cooler in our kitchen with ice cold water, we drink it all the time!

Apartment Tour

Mitch and I decided to take today’s post as a chance to invite you all into our home and check out our new apartment.  Mitch recorded and I narrated as we took a quick tour of our place.  We realized, that with the amount I flail my hands as I talk, the idea of me both narrating and video recording would result in a new version of the Blair Witch Project and would have people motion sick sitting in their desk chairs.  

So go ahead hit play, and welcome to our home!

Kuwaiti Happy Hour

Kuwait is a dry country.

No beer with pizza.

No wine with cheese.

No Thirsty Thursdays.

No Happy Hours.

No nothing.  

So on Thursday night when we headed downtown with a few of our friends, Happy Hour looked a bit different.  Instead of 2 for 1 cocktails, we ordered Shisha.  Shisha is a flavored tobacco that is smoked out of a Hookah.

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Since it was our time trying Shisha, the manager recommended that we try a variety of flavors.  We ended up with three different kinds: lemon/mint, apple, and grape/mint.  Mitch and I both chose lemon/mint as our favorite and a few of our friends really liked the grape/mint, but the apple went virtually untouched.

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Shisha lounges are located everywhere in Kuwait, but on the recommendation of another expat who has been in Kuwait for a few years, we headed to an area right along the Persian Gulf called Shaab.  I don’t think we could have found a more beautiful location to spend a few hours and watch the sunset!  

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We will be back for you someday soon jet skis!

Check out the Kuwaiti towers in the background. We will be back for you someday soon jet skis!

 

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...because what is funnier than watching other people take selfies.

…because what is funnier than watching other people take selfies.

 

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All in all I think that a Kuwaiti Happy Hour got the same results as Happy Hour state side, we got together with great friends, had tons of laughs, and woke up the next morning with a headache.  

*Sorry for the crappy iPhone pictures….it is still too hot to venture out with the big camera.