Expat Life

More Photos of the February 20th Sandstorm

A couple of months ago during one of my weekly Happy Hour posts, I mentioned that we had a pretty nasty sandstorm (you can read about it HERE).

Here are some additional photos from that sandstorm:


Photo courtesy of Ethan Schultz

No, those aren’t clouds . . . . . it’s sand coming our way!


Photo courtesy of Nasser Ali DjNas

The sandstorm off in the horizon, coming our way.


Photo courtesy of Gabe Massine.

It is coming right at us!  It was kind of like a tsunami wave . . . . you could see it coming, but you couldn’t do anything about it.


Photo courtesy of Niamh Dickson.

Here it comes!


Photo courtesy of Gabe Massine.

A view from our rooftop, as the sand is starting to take over the buildings:


Photo courtesy of Niamh Dickson.

Here is a cool aerial photo of the storm coming in:


Photo courtesy of kuwaitup2date.com

Besides leaving a thin layer of dust all over our cars and apartment windows, the dust storms don’t cause much damage.  It’s like a thin layer of fog that settles in, but by morning it all cleared out.  I would rather have a dust storm every few months rather than 6 months of winter back in Minnesota though!


Just a Typical Day

We live in the Middle East, but sometimes it seems like we are still living our old life back in America, our days can be so typical.  Let’s take Monday for example.  Monday is our evening together, no one is tutoring, no one is coaching soccer, no commitments after 2:00pm.  It is glorious.  So what do we do with a free evening together?  Without thinking about it, we had an evening like many of our friends and family could have on a nightly basis.

  • After work we headed to the mall to run a few errands
  • We picked up a new curling iron for me, as mine decided to stop working that morning with my hair half way curled
  • We sat down at PF Changs for dinner
  • Ran over to Steve Madden to grab some new sandals for me.  Side note: living in the desert is extremely hard on your shoes
  • Stopped into the North Face store to look at clothes for Mitch
  • Headed home and caught up on last weeks episode of Modern Family

It wasn’t until we were laying in bed that night and I pointed out how crazy typical our evening was, that we both realized that as much as our life has changed in the last year, so much of it is still the same.

Mutlah Ridge

A few weeks ago, we took a little adventure to Mutlah Ridge, the highest point in Kuwait. It was about an hour drive from our house, towards the Iraqi border.  Finding the exact location was a bit tricky, because it’s basically located in the middle of the desert.


Part of the adventure was the drive out there!  We were exploring a new part of Kuwait that we haven’t discovered yet.  One of the best parts were the guys on the side of the freeway selling HUGE fireworks out of the trunk of their car!  We didn’t buy any (this time) but we will be making another visit out there soon.

Once we got out there, we started driving through the desert, in search for a nice little view point.  We found a ridge with an excellent view of the desert, the Persian Gulf, and Kuwait City in the background.  We just kind of chilled out, took some pictures, walked around, and enjoyed our time being surrounded by nature.  It was nice to get out of the city and leave behind the hustle & bustle, the honking, congestion, etc. of city life.


Rachel and Ethan enjoying the view.  It was nothing but sand and boulders for as far as you could see.


From our viewpoint, we watched a bunch of people in their 4×4’s dune bashing through the desert sand.  From old 4×4 jeeps, to brand new Range Rovers, we saw a wide variety of vehicles out there.  Occasionally one would get stuck, but quickly others would speed over and help pull them out.  There was even people ripping around on 4-wheelers and dirt bikes!


Ethan decided to do a little rock climbing out there.


After a couple of hours chilling out, we decided to take off and head back towards the city.  However as we were leaving the desert, we saw a guy on the side of the road who was renting 4-wheelers.  We all agreed, that this was going to be a great idea . . . . so we stopped!  After a bit of negotiating . . . . . . we were ripping around the desert on a bunch of Polaris (shout out to Roseau, Minnesota!) 4-wheelers through the desert.  We had them for an hour, and had a ton of fun!  Here are a few pics of our riding:

Mike and I getting ready to cruise up the sand dunes!


Ethan picked the 4-wheeler with the cool “cross bones” flag on the back.  Unfortunately, it was the wimpiest one!


Rachel was having a blast!  They guy we rented them from tried to give her a smaller “safer” model because she was a girl, but little did he know . . . . she grew up in the woods and probably had more experience than us other three guys combined!


Out in the desert where we were riding, they were working on a new oil pipeline.  It was pretty crazy to see how big the pipe was.


The views at Mutlah Ridge can change every couple of days.  Anytime there is a strong breeze, the sand moves around and creates new ridges/dunes.


There was a bunch of other people out there enjoying their afternoons too.  A lot of families would spend the day have a picnic, grill out, then ride their 4-wheelers and buggies around.  Kids who looked as young as 4 years old were out ripping around by themselves, without even a helmet!


I was able to climb up this hill with my 4-wheeler, but if you look closely in the middle of the picture, Ethan’s got stuck and couldn’t make it up!


When we were done riding, we started heading back towards Kuwait City.  As we were heading down the highway, we ran into this mini little “4-wheeler gang” who were riding wheelies about 50 mph!


We had an awesome day out in the desert with friends!  Since we have been in Kuwait, I think we have done an excellent job of constantly searching for new and exciting things to do.  Our weekends are filled with adventures as we create memories with friends we’ll have forever!


7th annual Kuwait National Baseball Tournament

Last weekend, I was luckily enough to be selected to umpire in the 7th annual Kuwait National Baseball Tournament hosted by the Kuwait Little League.  I umpired 7 games during the tournament, and had an absolute blast!  Teams from all over the Middle East participated, including the countries of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates.  It was a busy few days, but it was a ton of fun and a well organized event, with some outstanding teams participating!


One of my favorite parts of the weekend was the atmosphere!  The fans had so much energy, for the entire weekend!  They were chanting, clapping, singing, and even playing bongo drums.  The atmosphere felt more like a World Cup Soccer game than a youth baseball game, but it was so much fun.  They were cheering so loud, that I could hardly hear myself calling balls & strikes behind the plate sometimes.  At one point, between innings, I asked the catcher, “Isn’t this awesome?!”  By the look in his eyes I could tell he was so jacked up, and he answered with an enthusiastic, “I LOVE THIS!”  The atmosphere was like nothing that I have ever seen at a baseball game before, it was so awesome!


Everyone who participated in the tournament was super friendly.  It was fun to meet people from all over the world and share our experiences from living abroad together.  A majority of the participants were expats from the U.S.A. or Canada, who are currently working in the Middle East in the oil industry, as teachers, etc.

This tournament concluded the Little League season here, which started last September.  I thought my season was going to be over too, however I was invited to umpire in a regional baseball tournament in Dubai next month!  One of the tournament organizers was in town for the Kuwait Tournament, approached me after one of my games, and extended an invitation to me. I’m super excited about the opportunity to participate!  (and I get an all expenses paid trip!)  Apparently teams from all over the world (including the U.S.A and Australia) will be playing in the Dubai tournament.


I’m a little bummed out that the Little League season is over.  I can’t express enough how much I enjoyed my time this winter with everyone.  I made some great friends and memories, that I will always cherish.  Regular season games are played weekly on Fridays here, so it became a part of my weekly routine to see everyone at the ballpark.  I was able to umpire a lot of great youth baseball games, some adult softball games, a few girls softball games, and even a couple of championship games this season!  I’m already looking forward to next season!


Golfing at the Sand Course

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a guy who was telling me about a sand golf course here in Kuwait.  I had never heard of a sand course before, but it was described to me as, “a golf course without grass.”  Say what!?!?!?!?!  He went on to tell me that they give you a little piece of grass that you carry around with you.  Before each swing, you put your ball on your chunk of grass, and swing away.


Here is what the tee box looked like at each hole.  They each had a little black rubber mat, that you could jam a golf tee into to set up your shot.  It was super weird hitting on an elevated platform, where your shoes would stick to the mat, and you were constantly worried that if you duffed your shot, you would snap your driver in half!


Here’s my buddy Adam teeing off at one of the holes.


Here is Adam with a shot in the middle of the fairway, no it’s not a sand trap!  You can see the little chunk of grass that we used to hit the ball.


At this course, you definitely wanted to play down the middle of the fairway.  The “rough” was like nothing I’ve ever seen before.  I was constantly looking for snakes, scorpions, and whatever else lived in there!


Another shot of the rough.


Here is a picture of Adam’s approach shot at one of the holes.  You will notice that the “green” is even sand.  The greens (or perhaps I should call them browns) were a bit more firm than the rest of the course.  It seems like they sprayed oil or something on them to keep them packed and somewhat smooth.


Trying to make a putt at this course was nearly impossible.  The greens were so bumpy, and you were hitting through sand and rocks.


You can get a good luck at the greens in this picture.  Check out all of the footprints!  Apparently they go out every morning with a broom and sweep them, to try and smooth them out a bit.


I got pretty excited that I was this close to sinking a decent putt, based on the conditions, but of course . . . . . . I came up short!


Here is a view looking back towards the tee box at one of the holes.  Everything was so brown and dead!  At times, it seemed like we were on another planet, like Mars!


Here is one of the sand traps at the “sand” course!  They were so deep, that you could barely see the green if you were trying to hit out of them. The entire thing was coated in concrete too, so you had to be super careful, especially if you would skull one.  Next thing you know, you would end up taking one between the eyes.


I don’t know what the heck these things are, but they were all over the golf course.  They seemed like they were some sort of vent or something, from an old oil well.  They were making a slight humming sound.


This is my golf ball at the end of my round.  Before I started, it was brand new!  When your ball is skipping through the sand and bouncing off rocks, it endures quite the beating.  It was completely messed up!


Wow, what an experience we had!  It was a ton of fun and it will definitely make for some fun stories to tell our friends and families about next summer.  It was about $7 for 9 holes.  While it was fun to get out and hit some golf balls, I highly doubt I will be back here again.  It was a cool experience, but I would hardly call it “golf.”  It was more like a round of “desert ball!”

Strike 1 . . . Strike 2 . . . Strike 3 . . . You’re Out!


Since moving to Kuwait, it seems like we have so much more free time on our hands, to just relax, enjoy hobbies, hang with friends, etc.  We are no longer homeowners, who are constantly working on renovations, mowing the grass, or chipping away at the “Honey Do List.”  While I miss tinkering in my old garage, my free time here has allowed me to do some things in my life that I have always wanted to do, but couldn’t ever find the time.  One of those things, is umpiring Little League Baseball!

Before moving here, I read online about the Kuwait Little League.  I sent an email, and before I knew it, I was attending my first Umpire Clinic of the season.  The unique thing about the league over here, is that the season runs from September to March.  Baseball players are always known as the “Boys of Summers,” however since it is so hot here, they play their season during the (cooler) winter months.

The Kuwait Little League is just like any league you would find back in North America.  There is multiple age divisions ranging from T-Ball to Seniors Baseball.  This year I chose to umpire the Majors Division (ages 11-12).  I would estimate that about 60% of the players and coaches are expats from countries other than Kuwait (U.S. Canada, Australia, Venezuela, etc.)  Teams practice twice a week, with games on Fridays.

The Little League Complex here is gorgeous, and opened just a few years ago.  There are 4 fields for T-ball, Minors, Majors, and Seniors. There are lots of common areas, an office, playground, multiple batting cages, and 3 concession stands!  One of them sells your typical concession food (hotdogs, hamburgers, popcorn, candy, etc.), there is also a coffee shop, and the other is a Taco Bell!  Yes, after a long day of umpiring, you can grab a chalupa and some cinamon twists!

I have a ton of fun umpiring and have met some great people.  It is a very close knit community among the players, coaches, and umpires.  The thing I enjoy most is watching the kids develop their skills during the course of the season.  Back in September, there were a lot of walks and not much action in the games.  However the players have come a long way this season, just in time for the upcoming tournaments which begin in a few weeks.

This year we are sending a Majors All-Star team to a tournament in the Phillipines, Dubai, and they will also play in our national tournament here in Kuwait at the beginning of March.  I have already been asked to umpire in the tournaments, which I’m pretty excited about.  They typically pay for your flights, hotels, food, and compensate you for each game.  I’m hopeful that I can make them fit into my schedule, because I would love to go.

In addition to umpiring Little League Baseball, I also umpired some softball games for the adult league.  From September to December, Kuwait Little League offered an Adult Softball League, and we had 16 teams register.  It is a co-rec league, and I had a ton of fun.  I would usually do 4 games a night, and got to know a ton of people.  I’m hoping next year that I can join a team to play with too!

Kuwait Little League is a great organization to be a part of, and I’m so glad that I was able to get involved with them.  It has become a part of my weekly routine, every Friday I head to the ballpark.  A lot of our students also play in the league, so it is fun to see them playing a game that I enjoyed so much as a part of my childhood.

We Found a Bookstore!

Before we moved to Kuwait, we made sure to fill up our Nook and Kindle with as many eBooks as possible, because we had read online that bookstores were hard to find.  However a few weeks ago, one of the parents at our school was telling us about a new bookstore that had just opened here, and they had a great selection, especially for kids.  Rachel was looking for a specific book that she wanted for school, so after work one day, a bunch of us went on a little adventure to find it.

The crazy adventure all started AFTER we arrived at the bookstore!  It was located in a mall, and super easy to find.  We got there at about 2:30pm and found this sign, stating that the store hours were from 2-11pm:


Open Hours: 2-11pm

However, the store was CLOSED!  It wasn’t all that unusual that it was closed, because most places here in Kuwait close for “lunch” between about 2-5pm, then reopen from 5pm-11pm.  However we were bummed, because we drove all across the city, and the hours were posted!  After peeking through the glass windows, we saw the worker sleeping inside, in the children’s reading nook.  So . . . . .  we politely began knocking on the window until she woke up!

She finally came to, and gave us a nasty look. You could tell that she wanted 10 more minutes of sleep, however there was a bunch of teachers outside ready to spend money!  She meticulously (and dreadfully slowly) put the children’s nook back in order before she greeted us with a warm welcome and let us in.

Once inside, we were super excited to see the nice selection of books they had for all ages!  You could even get a Ronald Regan book:


Anyone looking for a Ronald Reagan book?

About half of the books were in English and the other half were in Arabic.  Here’s a few of the Arabic children’s books I found:


Notice the book spines are on the right side? That is because in Arabic, they read from right-to-left, opposite of English.

Rachel was trying to find her book, but soon realized that they were not in any sort of organized order!  She asked the worker if they had the book she was looking for, and after a quick search of their inventory on their computer, the worker confirmed that they had a few copies.  So the search for the book (more like a needle in a haystack) began.  After about 30 minutes of looking through hundreds of books, the search was called off.  Bummer, we didn’t find it!


So many books, but none of them were organized!

One of our friend’s bought a bunch of books he was looking for, so the trip was definitely worth while.  We might try to go back in a couple of months after they get more organized.  The worker said they had just opened a couple of days prior, so they just kind of tossed the books on the shelves without organizing them.  Regardless though, it was a nice little outing after school.

It was fun to see the different variety of books they had!


They even had Barack Obama’s book Uncle Dougie!

Say What’s Up on WhatsApp!

Like many people around the world . . . . . I would be lost without my iPhone!  It goes with me everywhere!  To work, out to dinner, for a walk down the beach, and even into the bathroom. (admit it people, we all do it!!!)

I like the iPhone, because it is literally like a Swiss Army Knife.  It has so many tools, that I use all of the time.  It is especially helpful when you move to a new country like Kuwait, because you find yourself using it for much more than just making phone calls and sending text messages.  I find myself using it for things like capturing pictures of something crazy I see on the side of the road, or converting the price of an object from Kuwaiti Dinar to American Dollars, calling our family back home on FaceTime, converting the daily temperature from Celsius to Fahrenheit, and even using the GPS on the map app to find your way around.

However my favorite thing about my iPhone is the app called WhatsApp! It is an app that allows you to send text messages to anyone around the world for free!  You can use it if you are connected to wifi or off your data plan.  You can send pictures, send group messages, and now you can even send voice recorded messages.

It is free to download, and you can find it in the App Store.  Just search “WhatsApp Messenger.”  Here’s what the icon looks like:


Once you have it downloaded, your contact list is based off of the contacts you already have in your phone. You just have to add the Country Code to it. Here is the list of International Country Codes.  In the U.S. it is +1 and in Kuwait it is +965.

Download it today and send us an email at themightaswellers@gmail.com and we will send you our Kuwaiti cell phone numbers.  Then we will be able to send text messages back and forth for free!  I figure it is probably best if you email us, rather than posting our phone numbers on here for the entire world to see!

The only downside to WhatsApp is that you have to be sure to put your phone on silent every night.  Otherwise when your buddies are watching the big football game in the U.S. and start trash talking you over text messages, it doesn’t wake you up at 3am because of the time change!

Don’t forget . . . .  send us an email at themightaswellers@gmail.com so we can connect on WhatsApp!

Mitch’s Monday Happy Hour – February 2

As Salam Alaykom!

***That is how you say hello in Arabic!  It is pronounced Ahl sah-LAHM ah-LAY-koom and is the typical greeting here.

We’re back to work now, after our awesome 3 day weekend!  As always we jam packed as many things as possible into our weekend.  If we were meeting for a happy hour this week, here’s what I would have to share with you . . . . .

  • We booked 2 trips this week!  The first one was for our trip to Jordan in April for Spring Break.  My parents are coming to Kuwait for a few days, then the four of us are heading to Amman, Jordan for a week.  We have been talking about doing this trip for a few months, but we finally purchased our tickets from Kuwait to Jordan.  We are super excited, as it is going to be more of an “adventurous” trip rather than a “chill at the beach” kind of trip.  We are going to rent a car, and traverse the countryside and explore the Dead & Red Seas, visit Petra, camp in the desert, and some other stuff.  It feels good to finally have it booked so that we can start finalizing our itinerary and get our accommodations settled.  This weekend we also booked a trip to Cairo, Egypt!  We are going there for four days at the end of the month with a couple of friends.  We are excited to visit the Egyptian Pyramids, Sphinx, and explore the history of the country that dates back hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of years!  We found a nice 5 star resort for super cheap that we’re going to stay at.  We “upgraded” our room (for $12) so we have a view of the pyramids from our balcony. SCORE!

Photo Courtesy of: http://www.famouswonders.com


  • On Friday, a group of us piled into our car and headed south towards Saudi Arabia to visit one of our favorite beaches at Al Khiran.  We went earlier this year, and you might remember that Rachel wrote a little blog about it here.  The air temperature was in the 80s, but the water was ice cold!  We just chilled out at the beach, got some sun, tossed the frisbee, and just hung out with friends.  It was a great way to spend our afternoon!
  • After last weeks ridiculous round of golf at the local sand course, I had the itch to do some more golfing.  So on Thursday, a buddy and I headed to the Sahara Country Club here in Kuwait City.  It was a BEAUTIFUL course, definitely the nicest one that I ever played on.  The grass wasn’t as lush and green as it was when I was there in August, because apparently the type of grass survives better during the intense heat of the summer months.  I guess it goes dormant during the winter months here (70s-80s) and was a bit brown.  Regardless though, we had a great time and it was so nice.  The course also has lights on all 18 holes, so we are going to try and go again in a few weeks and play at night.  Here is a link to the course we played: Sahara Country Club.
  • This weekend I also scored a few freebies!  In our apartment building (all teachers that we work with) I found out that someone had an old dryer they wanted to get rid of it.  Apparently it worked fine a few weeks ago, until it suddenly stopped working for some reason.  They said that they weren’t very handy and didn’t want to bother trying to fix it, and just wanted it gone.  I jumped at the opportunity to tinker on project, so we are the new owners of a broken dryer!  Then about an hour later, one of our friends told us that someone was looking to get rid of a broken treadmill.  They knew I was pretty handy and always looking for a project, and the next thing you know . . . . . .  me and a friend are humping a huge broken treadmill back to our apartment. So for the first time since moving to Kuwait, I have myself a “Honey Do List.”  I bought a few basic tools this weekend, and am going to start tackling my projects during my spare time.  You may think I’m a hoarder for collecting this broken stuff . . . . . but I’m pretty excited to have something to tinker on.  I’ll keep you posted if I’m able to fix them.

That’s all for now folks, we’ll see you next week.


Gas Prices in Kuwait

When we were looking at buying a vehicle in Kuwait a couple of months ago, we knew we wanted a large, gas guzzling, SUV.  Mainly for the comfort, but also because we knew that gas was super cheap here. Our Durango has a 5.7L Hemi V8, and averages about 13 mpg (miles per gallon) in the city and about 18 mpg on the highway.  In all of the reviews we read online, the gas mileage was the biggest thing that people were complaining about it.  However since we lived in the Middle East, we knew it was the perfect place to buy a big SUV with horrible gas mileage.

Currently the gas is about $0.74 a gallon! It is literally cheaper than water or pop.

All of the gas stations here are full service, meaning that you just pull up to the pump, and an attendant fills your tank for you. It’s like magic!

Here’s a photo of my favorite gas station:


They even have grass!

Look at the magic! I just sit in driver’s seat, play on my phone, and the gas is magically pumped into the vechicle!


Viola, it’s magic!

This is the guy who pumps my gas:


He’s a nice guy, and knows 5 words of english: Premium, Ultra, Full, Thank You Sir.

While the gas is being pumped, he goes around the entire vehicle and even washes all of the windows!


Not all of the guys wash your windows, but my dude rocks!

It’s going to be so hard next summer when we return to Minnesota, and I actually have to get out of the vehicle and do it myself. #livinginluxury