Friday, September 28, 2012

Fam I Am!

Love my family ;-)

The bottom one contains all of my siblings, nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews and great-great neices and nephews. I am quite excited that I was able to get them all photographed over this past summer. Or at least aquire photos of them (gotta love that facebook!)

A kiss is just a kiss

The story of my trip to Cairo is quite interesting. My main job here at AIS is to work as the Activity Director which involves coordinating all the details for our Model United Nations, Forensics (Speech), Band and Choir and Academic Games teams to travel to local and international tournaments. Last year it was quite a fiasco with the Arab Spring. It made getting teams to tournaments quite a challenge. We had to cancel a few events in Egypt.
Although our contacts in Cairo and Alexandria assured us that all was well at the end, we still couldn't convince our parents that it was safe to send students there. I can understand from a parents standpoint, but there comes a time when you have to stop being afraid and travel. So at the spring meeting, one of the ADs from Cairo suggested that the meeting be held in Cairo in the fall so we could see that it's quite safe (relatively speaking). And so it was voted on and agreed. Later he told me that he did that because he knew I wanted to see the pyramids. What a friend!
So off we go to Cairo ( although there had been a mini riot two weeks before, we carried on bravely) We found it to be safe, interesting and delightful. None of the male ADs wanted to travel to see this tourist site (I think it had to do more with the fact that I left at 730 am after a night of heavy partying on their part). As I said in an earlier blog, I didn't bring my camera, but I did manage to use my ipad to grab a couple for documentation purposes.
 Here is my favorite. In case you are wondering, the sphinx is male.. From sixth grade until last weekend, I thought it was female. Go figure...


Kuwait through Kims kamera

My beautiful neighbor Kim writes a great blog about her life here. She is an excellent writer and I love reading her version of visiting places we have been. I should give you the link but then you might give up on me and only read her! But I did steal pictures... Oh of course I asked first. ( sorta) Enjoy...
To explain a couple of them. This one is actually taken in Oman, but it's so lovely I had to include it here. It features all the wonderful doors and artwork plus a local. You (well maybe not you, but certainly I can) see that it's not a Kuwaiti male due to the hat.  I love these boats. This is a dhow and it's a traditional fishing/pearling vessel. You see many of them out in the gulf and parked in the marinas preparing for their fishing expeditions. I've been lucky enough to sail on them once, it was very special.
This is the Kuwait Communication tower. It's located right downtown which is quite handy as a landmark when visiting the old souk (Souq Mubarekeea)
One of the things I often say is that Kuwait is at it's best at night (when it's all lit up and the dust and general messiness is covered up) and early in the morning when it's quiet. KK captured a peaceful site at Souq Shaarq. In case I haven't told you, Souq is the word for market.
Kuwaitis are very proud of their ancient tradition of falconry and working with hawks. Actually the entire Middle East is proud of this tradition. There have been several times when I was visiting the vet with my cat (or a friends cat) and there would be 5 or 6 of these little guys waiting for their visit with the doctor. The little cap is kept on so they don't get anxious.
This is the extent of the "wildlife" that we see. The local cats enjoying a banquet from the garbage bin. These cats are the same kind as my Germo (an Arabian Mau) but they haven't had the life that he has had. When he pisses me off (which isn't often) I tell him that he could end up like his cousins in the garbage bins. It seems to work as he always behaves afterwards.

England swings like a pendulum do

For some reason this old song from the 60s popped into my head while posting these photos from our recent trip to England.
I love LOVE England for many reasons:it has tremendous sentimental value as it was the first trip I took on an airplane 31 years ago; I love the history, the moderness( styles etc), the theatre.. It's just bloody cool!
The photos below are random but capsulized our time there.
The pilot did a wonderful job of flying in over all the major tourist attractions. I don't know if it was intentional or just the way the flight patterns happen, but it was quite a thrill. We've just passed the River Thames and Big Ben by the time I got over the excitement and got out my camera.
We visited southern England and saw my Great Neice EE and high school friend PK. We walked along the beach which was actually more crowded that this picture shows. We hadn't really spent any time in this part of England before and found it quite loverly.
This odd looking thingy on my right is one of the several offical Olympic mascots. I have not idea what the name is or what it is supposed to symbolize, but I had to have my photo taken with one of the lil buggers. St. Paul's catheral is in the upper right.
 We spent a lot of time with Bill (shakespeare) on this trip attending the Globe theatre (and thus completing one of David's bucket list items). We also accidently spent time in the church where he worshipped and also passed this plaque which shows the actual site of the Globe Theatre in the 1700s.
 Looking off into the distance in southern England one can almost hear the horses approaching and see Robin Hood and his merry band.
Yep, if you look over my right shoulder you will see the London Bridge and the Olympic Rings hanging from it. We spent a lovely morning along the Thames collecting rocks and glass.
 See, William and Kate aren't the only ones who can kiss well!

Cairo without my camera

I didn't bring my camera for fear of looking like a tourist (ha)! But I captured a lot in my mind. Thankfully there are google images of what I saw.
I had been warned that the Cairo traffic was crazy but fortunately most of my travels were in the early morning. There is something so interesting about seeing 4-5 lanes of traffic and then something like this (pictured) on the side of the road just plotting along.
The area that is close to the pyramids looks like a different world. Although this is a painting, the communityy looks exactly like this today. So very interesting.
This is indeed what I saw. I must admit that I could hear Peggy Lee singing in the background a little bit ("is that all there is"?) because they weren't quite as massive as I had pictured them. But it's still an amazing site to see all that limestone and granite. The site where the Sphinx is located took 20 years to build. Unfortunately an angry Muslim (go figure!) man chopped off the nose of the sphinx some time ago. The guide said he was worried about idolatry. If he had thought about all the money that the pyramids bring to the country, he might have re-considered.
I love souqs and visit them every change I get. I didn't get a chance to visit this one but I did enough damage in the hote gift shop which featured items like this. However, the lesson I learned is DON'T VISIT the gift shop after you've consumed four beers. Enough said.
No matter how many times I see camels, they always amaze and intrigue me. I didn't go for the ride on this one because quite honestly, the saddle hurts my butt (and I do have enough padding) and they are VERY TALL and it's a bit disconcerting to be that far up in the air.
I saw this site...and I saw a woman riding on the back of a motorcycle riding side saddle and I saw a man bringing a huge sack of groceries home on his bike.

A Wale of a Tale (of sorts)

 While we were there, we visited St. David's Cathedral (in the community of St. David's). It was every bit the classic Cathedral community that I read about in the wonderful book Pillars of the Earth.
 Celebrating our 30th anniversary couldn't have been any better! We think we're looking pretty good after 30 years of marriage (and 35 years together).
Our last day there we hiked way up a hill to this deserted castle. It was an overcast day and we were the only ones there, except for a family with 4 young children. The children were very dramatic and were enacting an imaginery scene from the "days of yore". It was as if we were actually a part of court life. A lovely experience for two drama teachers to enjoy.

How to say Goodbye

Well she says sheepishly, it's been so long that I didn't even remember how to get into my blog! I had to go back to the email site...and I couldn't remember my password! Fortunately I could remember my first grade teacher's name and that allowed me in! (If you're reading this from the HHS class of 77, do not hack my account)

I didn't even finish my last blog on Wisconsin, because, well, I've had a bit of a case of writer's block. I was struggling with what to say and how to say it and what was important and what wasn't. I am also feeling a bit of "how much more can I say about kuwait and my lifestyle that hasn't been said already in the four years prior?" It's an odd feeling, and I don't know if I have really come to terms with it yet.

My lovely lil neighbor KK from Wisconsin is setting the blogsphere on fire with her timely and interesting posts on her life here. I see so much of my early excitement in her eyes. She's also only 23  (she had to invite us to her Disco party last year to add some authenticity!) and she's got a lot of youthful charm and energy. I almost want to post a link on this blog and say "check out life in Kuwait through this blog". But that would be almost cheating and certainly lazy.

Well, what can I tell you that you might not already know? We spent a week in London and Wales. I will post pictures later. It was a wonderful trip and we were able to see two shows (at the Globe theatre..Shakespeare's theatre and "War Horse" which was a great thrill). We also loved Wales and all of it's beauty. It was the perfect end to our summer of celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary.

It's public news now that we are spending out last year in Kuwait having finally been able to talk with our superintendent. Actually "talk" isn't the right word as I got about 4 words out and then burst into tears. He was understanding as always. He knew this was a possibility as we didn't sign on for 2 years when offered our contracts last year. As school was ending up last year, he said to me "oh you'll get home and you will realize all that you'll miss in Kuwait and then you will want to return for another year." I said "oh you don't know me very well, my heart is in Minnesota-always has been, always will be". But I do admit that there must be some part of my heart deeply inbedded here to have that kind of emotional response when verbalizing the thought of leaving.

I guess that's a good thing. To leave a place when there's still love for the job and the people. We've always said when we stop laughing, we will leave. We're still laughing but we are aware that we're starting to get a little more impatient with all things Kuwaiti.

Not the students...not the school...we have the most perfect jobs we could ever ask for. But we miss MN, the American lifestyle (although we definately do not miss TV commercials and politics) and we miss our families that live there. Ben has had to fend for himself for the past 5 years and he's done a wonderful job with the help of Jolene and her family, but I definately miss being a part of his life.
Charlie completely understands what we are doing and why, but I can imagine that there's a part of him that wants us home to help and humor him. Thank God for Skype and Email because without those two devices, life would be very hard here.

This summer, we made a pact with each other that we would kick each other square in the butt if we ever said "oh well it's our last year we don't care". We've seen some of our colleagues go through that faze and we don't want to be there. Once this fall, I actually did utter those words to my working partner (the athletic director) and then after a few minutes I went back into his office and told him to kick me square the next time I even think that. Now that he's in on the pact I think I will watch myself more closely.

So I am going to make this promise to you, the readers of this blog: I will do better in keeping up this last year. We haven't seen EVERYTHING in Kuwait, there are still some hidden goodies out there yet. I will also probably tell you that this may be a bit of a swansong as I attempt to disengage myself from this lifestyle. To live here totally I had to committ 100% of my heart and head (at least from late August to early June) to being here and now I am starting the process of seperating. The trick is to do that without seem like I am doing it. I don't know if I can do that very well.

Stay tuned for details. And thanks for reading.