Hi there from Kuwait!
That’s right, I’m out of the country now, being a tourist in the place I grew up. (Actually, I’ve been out of the country for a few weeks now–whoops!) My husband is visiting Kuwait for the first time, and we’ve been going out almost every day.
The month of February is a very special time in Kuwait known as “Hala Febriar.” February 25th is National Day, and the 26th is Liberation Day. The country has, traditionally, celebrated the whole month much like the U.S. does with Christmas. The entire country is covered in decorative lights, there are events held for families, and people tend to come together more. Americans are granted visas on entry, so if you’ve ever wanted a Middle East vacation and are considering going to Kuwait, February is the best time to go!
There are of course the must-sees. We went to the beach and collected seashells all day long. At night the Kuwait Towers were lit up with a light show. We spent a day admiring Green Island, and a place I called “Turtle Island” as a kid which is basically a play area for children.
Our first day out we went to Avenues Mall, which is one of the largest malls in the world with seven districts (and counting). The Old Souk area is modeled after Arabian souks, the Prestige and Grand Avenues area hosts the high-end stores such as Louis Vutton, and the Avenues mall has many mid-level stores such as H&M. Along the mall are many restaurants. We ate at “Gaucho Grill,” and Argentine-style steakhouse with some of the best steak either of us have ever had! And, of course, we went shopping. Like Oregon, there is no sales tax. (There’s also no income tax, but that’s a different story.)
Of course, despite all the flashy sequins of the big malls, Kuwait has maintained it’s old souk deep in the heart of the city. So deep it’s partially underground. Al-Mubarakiya was lit up for the month, music and small booths filled the street to promote young Kuwaiti entrepreneurs. There were also the usual stores that have been there for years, including the local fruit market, textiles, and incense stores. Just remember, bargaining is a must!
I just want to mention one more mall we visited, which is called 360. 360 is a small (in comparison) mall, and we ate at a restaurant called “Sabah wa Masah” (Day and Night), which we loved. The reason I want to note it is because it is near a residential area named Al-Zahra. The residential area is particularly important to me because my father designed and planned it. So, we drove around and admired it’s beauty.
The 25th and 26th, however, are reserved for a particularly wonderful tradition: a country-wide water fight!
Yes, you heard me right. People either get in their cars, or camp out on the sidewalks along the Gulf Road armed with water balloons and super soakers and the game is on! When I was growing up it was a war with cans of silly string, but since there are tons of chemicals in silly string the game has switched to water as the weapon of choice.
Yesterday, to end the month-long celebration, we went to Festival City, which is a garden of lights filled with food vendors, and small shopping booths.
All-in-all, I’ve had a wonderful time going around the places of my childhood and having the chance to share them with my husband. And because of this joy, I’ve been neglecting my duties here! (Sorry.)
But don’t worry, look for a poetry prompt this Monday!