Sand storms, oven like heat, 5 star hotels.
Luxury like I'd never known.
A culture unlike any I'd ever experienced.
The airport spits you out of customs and into arrivals where you walk down a pathway much like a catwalk. Eager faces awaiting family and friends, businessmen in suits standing in groups awaiting the rest of their own group come through. Money exchanges, corn and nut roasteries also surrounding the exits in an attempt for last minute purchases and monetary exchanges. It took two years before I became a "nut addict" like the rest of my coworkers. I would bring back pounds of pistachios and cashews roasted in lemon and herbs I could never quite put my finger on.
During my career with the company, we stayed at two different hotels, my favorite being The Palms. It had a stretch of sandy white beach looking out onto the gulf, the Al Hashemi rested up against the shore between the hotel and the famed Radisson next door. The rooms were literally "homes" away from home. Fruit baskets as big as my inflight bag awaited me on my dining table. In my dining room. DINING ROOM. Each room was as large as a comfortable one bedroom apartment. Some "rooms," due to occupancy issues, had multiple bedrooms. I seriously wanted to move in and never leave. So long as I had someone to foot my room service bills, of course! It was there that I fell in love with tahini rich hummus piled thick on fresh pita bread, it was there where I turned brown as a nut before my wedding (and will probably look back and curse the skin cancer once I'm diagnosed.) Even with Coppertone baby 75+ SPF, I'd have deep tan lines within 30 minutes of walking around the area.
My hotel room dining area.
The spare bedroom in one of my hotel rooms at The Palms.
The Al Hashemi
We were given strict rules not to leave the area without being covered or without a chaperone of sorts. After we switched hotels, I took one trip back to The Palms for Starbucks with one of my Flight Attendant friends and swore never again would I take another taxi. EVER. Emergency lanes are for EMERGENCIES, PEOPLE! Not for plowing around bumper to bumper traffic. Contrary to popular belief, I would not die for Starbucks.
I would do anything for a latte, but I won't do that...
It's funny that the bathrooms there stand out so prominently in my mind. Aside from the bizarre toilet room telephone, we had walk in showers as big as my own bathroom here in the basement. Unlike checking into my rooms in Germany, once my bags would arrive to my room in Kuwait I would draw a hot bath and wash the stink of airplane, sweat, sand and grime off of me. I originally started writing this post over a week ago before my kids got sick and the following day someone suggested I try taking long baths to relax. I can count on BOTH hands the amount of times I've taken baths in this house since I moved in all fat and pregnant 5 years ago. Tonight that changed. I took her advice and soaked for a bit and when I closed my eyes, immediately transported myself back to the Movenpick (our second Hotel) where I would soak until the water turned ice cold. There was something about this particular hotel that just seemed so cleansing and peaceful. Tonight's bath left me feeling the same way.
So what do I miss most about Kuwait? I miss the luxury and hospitality. I miss the plumeria trees blooming in droves around the pool at the Movenpick. I miss the early morning prayers filtering out through the minarets across the city shortly before the sun would rise. I miss the hours wasted in Starbucks, lazily eating my light dinner and just observing the vast cultural differences and surprising similarities. I miss my nuts. ((Take that one however you want it!!!))