Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pity Pots Cost A Lot

I've decided to get off my pity pot. Feeling sorry for myself wastes too much time. Nothing has been going my way and I'm used to controlling everything. Being in Kuwait has forced me to be patient. I've fallen in the shower (I got so mad that I just showered with the curtain and rod on the floor) Burned my head with a curling iron (Nothing a little makeup can't fix) and we lost the apartment that we wanted. The guy gave it to someone else because we didn't put any cash down. Lesson 1 learned: See a flat you want, put money down. In Kuwait, it's all about the cash. After boo-hooing, snapping at the husband and having a couple of "pajama" days, my ass( or is it my ego?) is hurting from this damn pity pot... either way, I've been acting like an ass and I'm tired of being pathetic. I'm in a brand new country, yes. It's a little scary, yes. But I am with my husband and that's the most important thing. We had a little pow wow session this weekend and we are focused on team "US"... back in the game... Back to square one with finding another apartment. But that's okay, it's not like we don't have a roof over our heads right now.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Whilst I'm grateful for the company housing that the husband's job so graciously is providing, I'm at odds with the location. We currently live in an area that is crazy full of construction. It seems to be part of Kuwait's decor. When I look out my window, there are grand villas across the street... lush, colorful and grossly expensive villas. There are huge, unfinished villas across from them; generously decorated with dusty piles of rubble and dirt. Two streets over from villa land is the hood. Or the ghetto as I call it. And next to that? More piles of rubble and garbage. I guess they don't believe in waste disposal here. It's down right trifling.

With that being said, we decided to go apartment hunting the other day. I got an email from a friend who said that someone came to her office specifically looking for Westerners to rent to. Perfect timing and the price sounded right up our alley. Deciding to kill two birds with one stone, we also called a listing we found online in the town nearby the referral from my friend. When we got to the first location, the referral, the husband and I were extremely impressed with the layout, design and size of the apartment. It's situated among other established villas and has minimal construction on the block. I'm just glad that I can walk outside and not get dirt and dust all over my clothes and shoes. We won't have our car until next week so we came to the location in a cab. The owner of the apartment, a very well dressed Kuwaiti man who spoke relatively good English, was kind enough to have his driver take us to another location to meet the real estate agent of the OTHER place we found online. Talk about niceness. He seemed confident that we'd be calling him back.

Fast forward to the meeting place... McDonald's. The woman pulls up in a Jeep with a lady passenger in the front and tells us to follow her. We explained that we don't have a car and she responds in an accusatory tone, that WE should have let her know that. She went on to say that she didn't have much room in her Jeep. At this point, I wanted to tell her to forget it then. I really was put off by her attitude; not to mention her attire, but I'll get to that later. The husband looked at me like, whatcha wanna do now? Just as I was about to tell her "peace out"... she insisted that we ride with her and warned it might be a tight squeeze. Her passenger, partner, or who ever she was got out to let us in the back seat. She was wearing a wife beater, tank-top, wrinkled capris and flip flops. Not a good look for showing an apartment, I thought. We crammed our way into the back and WTF??? I couldn't breathe because the interior REEKED of cigarette smoke. I mean, it smelled like they were using an air freshener called Rodeo Road House. They started conversing in their language... I'm guessing Polish... which I thought was rude as hell. So I looked over at my husband and told him in Spanish that this car stank of smoke and if my hair smells like cigarettes when we get out, Imma be pissed. There are things that you don't do to a sistahs weave. Touch it, or blow smoke in or around it when she JUST washed it an hour ago. We got to the apartment in just under 4 minutes, so I finally let out my breath. I grabbed some of my 16 inch wavy hair cascading on my back and smelled it. I didn't care if that Realtor was looking or not. Luckily, it didn't smell.

The place was a high rise. On the way up in the elevator, I noticed the two chicks were checking out my attire. I was thinking keep looking beeches, you could learn a thing or two. The one lady who was the driver and apparently the contact person, was in her 50's. She donned a disheveled pony tail like she had been mopping ALL the floors in her house ALL day. Wearing the two tank-top style, showcasing her armpits and wrinkled capris... What I'd wear to clean my toilets. Who, in their right mind, wants to rent from someone dressed like that? They complimented me on my jeans and top... but I caught them eying my jewelry. The apartment was not to our liking. It had a sea view, but the apartment looked kind of crappy inside with old fixtures and a bad paint job. We quickly said no thanks. She then offered us another apartment for a higher price. I said sure, lets take a look. In the lobby and on the way to her funky vehicle, she made a statement that really pissed me off. She said that my husband didn't look American. That he looks Egyptian and that he should cut his hair shorter. WTF??? My man's family is Salvadorian... I know he needs a haircut... I'M HIS HAIRDRESSER! The box with my hair clippers is sitting on a pallet at the APO. But, who did this bitch think she was telling me that? What the hell was that supposed to mean anyway and what were AMERICANS supposed to look like? I felt a cuss out coming on... But I smiled and grit my teeth and said, "You can't see that he's Latino?" She said, "Yes, after closely looking and hearing his American accent." Like all was well and OK after inspection.

We rode in that stank-ass car for a minute or so and came to a nicer looking high rise. The place had a sea view and nicer furniture. It still was no match for the unfurnished apartment we saw earlier. The husband and I went to the living room to tell them thanks for showing us blah, blah, blah. And do you know what those two nasty, trashies were doing? SMOKING! Sitting on what would be our furniture... IF WE HAD WANTED THE PLACE... and chain smoking like old ladies in a retirement home. Are you SERIOUS! I began backing out of the apartment and the husband followed suit... backing our way out of the smoky-ass living room. And the chick followed us! We're backing out and she's walking towards us. Ugh! She put out the cigarette and said if we want the place, they will need first and last months rent... blah blah blah. I couldn't hear because I was losing oxygen. I just nodded my head and kept walking. Then she had the audacity to say that her fee would be 200 KD. I bobbed my head towards the hubby and tried not to laugh out loud. He said, "Thanks, we'll let you know."

When we got back to fresh air we laughed. "IF" and that's a big if... As if I were high on crack... we were going to pay somebody 200 KD to find us an apartment that we can go directly to the owner ourselves for, it wouldn't be to a racist, chain smoking, icky, chick like that.

We called the Kuwaiti guy back and tried not to sound desperate... Whew! Moving in next week. Thanks M!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Al Manshar Rotana

My husband and I stayed at the Al Manshar Rotana hotel in Fahaheel for my first weekend in Kuwait. I was reminded what region I am in when hotel security stopped our vehicle and scanned it with explosive detection devices. I thought, whoa, they really just checked our vehicle for car bombs! Comforting, yet not so comforting thought on my first night in Kuwait. I was reminded about the imminent danger once again, when we had to walk through a metal detector in the hotel entrance. The hotel is rated a 5 star, I would give it 4 stars since I believe that 5 star hotels should be aesthetically pleasing 360 degrees around... There is a beautiful pool on the roof over looking the city.

However, on the opposite side of the hotel is construction. Actually it looks like construction was halted, so the area on that side of the hotel looks dirty, dusty and baron. I forgot to take a picture of this unsightly area.

I noticed many locals in traditional clothing that were apparently staying there, but thought it odd that the music playing on the roof was American hip hop.

The rates are relatively pricey, however I found the service to be rather good. On the second day, my husband called down to the desk and no one answered, so he hung up and said that he supposed it was busy. About 30 seconds later, the clerk from the front desk called and apologized for missing the call and proceed to answer his question. I thought that was pretty cool. We enjoyed massages and sea salt scrubs before we checked out... In separate rooms. No sharing the experience together here. Not in this country. A word of warning to the shy, you will be nude for the body treatments. Although the therapists are professional in covering you quickly after you disrobe, it would have been nice to know ahead of time that the treatment is in your birthday suit.

I notice the little things when I visit hotels and I liked the electronic room keys that work by placing your key card in front of the pad. And the "do not disturb" feature was a cool touch as well. Once inside your room, you can leave your card in the slot and a bed icon lights up for the staff to see on the outside door so as not to bother you. Those little touches may not mean much for others, but I like the techie stuff in hotels. The husband and I like unique bathrooms. We've been dreaming up ideas on how to re-do ours back home, so when checking out the bathroom digs, I really admired the marble shower stalls... Very roomy and the rain faucet fixture was heaven. I have never seen a retractable clothesline in the shower. I thought that was odd, but useful. I am not that well traveled... yet. I've only been to the Bahamas, and islands in the British West Indies... so I've never seen a bidet. Heard of them, but never "experienced" one. I giggled when I saw it in the bathroom.

We took advantage of the complimentary breakfast inside the hotel and sat outside on the balcony overlooking the attached mall. The food was remarkable and I enjoyed having my eggs made to order and brought to our table. The waitstaff was quite attentive.

All in all, I would recommend the Al Manshar Rotana hotel in Fahaheel, Kuwait.

Monday, June 14, 2010

First Day in Kuwait

I made it to Kuwait!  Man, the heat really is like walking around with a hot blow dryer on your face.

  Because I used a meet and assist service, it only took me 2 minutes to get my visa.  Really, it only took a couple of minutes!   I felt like royalty when I got off the plane and an Asian lady with a red jacket was standing there holding a sign up with my name.   The young  lady also walked me around the airport and took pictures of me since I was wide-eyed with tourist like amazement.  We sashayed through that airport so fast...  Basically, I was pushed to the head of the class.  And I'm glad too, because if you're an expat, getting off the plane and entering the  terminal can be confusing.  There are no signs, no directions and when you follow the pack of other lost expats and visitors... you find yourself standing in front of the visa counter where there's a man just sitting there smoking a cigarette and chatting with his buddies... He gets to you when he gets to you.  So needless to say, I would recommend using the escort service BEFORE you get here.  If you don't, you run the chance of getting lost or you'll have to follow the rest of the lost visitors.  While sitting for my couple of minutes, I noticed a couple of packs of 20 visitors asking each other... where do we go?  where's the line? where's the form?  I even got the evil eye from a few when my escort waved me over and handed me my visa to sign in the time it took them all to mindlessly survey the area.  They looked puzzled, miffed, and was probably thinking, "Who the hell is she?"  Well, I said I  felt like royalty.

When it came time to get my luggage, that process was just as fast.  The young lady escorted me to the baggage claim area and snapped her fingers at a nearby porter.  There was a family that was clearly there first and they tried to get his attention, but he ignored them and made a beeline for me and my escort.  They didn't look too happy either.  I was like, whoa!  Shocked, but honestly, I didn't really care about anybody else at that time because all I wanted to do was hug my husband.  Speaking of hugging my husband, I asked the lady was it acceptable to hug my husband and she looked at me like... girl please....  and said, "Pshaw, you have an American passport!"

My luggage was not on a carousel, it was lined up next to a carousel with other traveler's luggage... I suppose the workers pull it off and line them up.  I don't know. I was glad that I had tied  purple tulle to identify my two bags quickly.  After the porter loaded my bags, we all walked to the X-ray machine and my purse and luggage was loaded on the belt.  They didn't open any of my luggage, only my purse was searched in front of me.  The security guard tried to look official and intimidating, but I was looking him up and down like, dude, you better not spill any of my liquid makeup on my Coach bag.  Every time he pulled something out all rough like, I would quickly pick it back up and gently re-wrap or package it.  He picked up my mini contact solution bottle and asked me what it was.  I pointed to my eye and said for my contacts... I mean, like dude, can't you read?  I was getting a little pissed, because he was sloppy and slow, pulling out my contents and I was hoping that I didn't have a tampon or something in there.  Finally, a supervisor or something came over and waved him to stop and he pushed my purse back in my direction with a caveman grunt.  He didn't scare me.  But he would have been scared if he spilled my makeup.

The waiting area was close by and the lady asked me if I could see my husband in the waiting crowd.  Looking left, right, left... I couldn't see him.  Then finally, I eyed him timidly standing with his hands interlocked.  I was thinking, why in the world is he just standing there all scared looking?  Then I laughed out loud because I knew he was afraid that I would run and leap into his arms and kiss and wrap my legs around him like I do at the American airports.   I remembered where I was.... There would be no kissing him like the end of an American love story.  I gave him a  conservative hug and whispered in his ear, "Get me outta here so we can kiss!"