Kuwait

My time in Kuwait was like no other. The official who was granting my visa, couldn’t find New Zealand on his list. His assistant tried convincing me that New Zealand is in Eastern Europe. Already it is 40+ degrees outside and I feel like I’m walking through a sauna with industrial fans blowing hot air directly at my face. I’m not entirely sure why I thought it was a good idea to come here, but no doubt I will find out soon enough.

Arriving at my home for a couple of days, I’m immediately enthralled by the view. Unobstructed views of Liberation Tower, and the ability to see right out to the ocean. The air con is on and for that I’m incredibly grateful.

I set out in search of shesha and a cup of arabic coffee. I’m directed down a short alleyway to an unmarked door. As I enter the cafe, I’m ushered off to partitioned booth out of sight from the men in the main sitting area. Modestly dressed Muslim women sit with their girlfriends, smoking and a chatting. I sit alone in my booth looking out the window in an attempt to let my mind catch up with what my eyes can see.

After an amusing, yet relaxing time spent in this cafe, I head out to wander the streets. I’m stared at a lot as I meander through sandy streets, though this is nothing new. I take in the sights and admire the architecture. This time a juxtaposition of old ramshackle buildings with towering skyscrapers dripping with wealth.

The next morning I’m awoken by the a than bellowing out across the city. I text a Muslim friend in Dubai asking if there is a snooze button, he says yes it’s called hell. Breakfast in the hotel is a mixture of cheese and pastries. The benefit of being up so early is that I can set out before it gets too hot. 8am and 49 degrees… thank goodness it’s not too hot, though the sweat pooling in the small of my back could tell you otherwise.

My driver barely speaks English, but luckily I’ve become pretty good at charades and using Google for assistance. I marvel at the Kuwait Towers, Burj Al Hamra and structures that Google Image Search was yet to introduce me to. After an hour or so of ogling fine architecture, I ask to be taken somewhere for Turkish coffee. Instead, I’m dropped at the white girl version of Starbucks and it’s here that I bid my driver adieu. I avoid the caffeinated chain and opt for a cup of hot Karak with ginger. I must figure out how to make Karak at home.

During the hottest part of the day, I hide from the sun and make an attempt at catching up on Uni work. Though my attempts are fruitless. After accepting defeat, I head back to the shesha cafe for arabic coffee and smoke. My waiter is pleased at my return and continues to hit on me in a gentle manner.

In the evening I decide to visit Grand Avenues Mall and toy with the idea of wearing my hijab. I call reception and ask if it’s necessary to wear it and he says it’s up to me. Since this is something that I can’t do at home, and am hopeful that fewer people will stare at me and my uncovered head, I dress modestly and put on my hijab. The man at reception tells me I look beautiful and I head off to the mall.

Grand Avenues was opened a couple of months ago and reeks of luxury. Is that designer perfume they’re using as air freshener? I wander, headphones in, snapping pics like a tourist and smiling like an idiot. I can’t believe I’m here.

My flight to Manila leaves at 4am. I’m tired but know that if I sleep now, there is every chance I’ll miss it. So I Skype my special someone and ramble on about my day as I pack for what seems like the 47th time since I left home.

It is here that I am grateful for the people in my life that love me and support my dreams. It is here that I praise myself for feeling the fear and doing it anyway. When did I become someone who is so insistent on following her dreams? Whatever the trigger, I’m happy for it. Whatever the trigger, I feel blessed.

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