Hello, Kuwait

Hello to Kuwait, which is now home to my family for the next couple of years. We’ve been here long enough for the jet lag to have (mostly) worn off, but the real work of getting ourselves situated has only begun.

Our journey from checking out of our hotel in Bethesda, Maryland to checking in to a hotel in downtown Kuwait City took 28 hours in total, with 15 of those hours in the air on two flights. Upon arrival, we were exhausted and hot—the temperature was a balmy 115 degrees—but relieved and happy to finally be in Kuwait. (Well. Mostly happy. Poor Liam was briefly ill upon arrival in the hotel lobby but gave me enough warning that I was able to conjure up a Ziplock bag to play catch before he christened the marble floors.)

On the plane, in between movies, I tracked our progress on the map on the entertainment screen over cities and countries I’ve only read about in the news. My first views of Kuwait came from a screen, as a webcam under the plane tracked our progress over sand, sand and more sand. Once we dropped a little lower, nearing the city, I was able to crane my neck across the aisle to view through a window—did you guess?—more sand!

This terrain is alien to me, far from my childhood home in woods overlooking a small river valley in Ohio, and from the farmlands which cover wide swathes of my home state. Far, too, from anywhere else I’ve lived—Maryland, Virginia, England and Japan—where green is the dominant color for the landscape outside of cities.

But here? Here is…beige. We are in the city but we are surrounded by buildings the color of camels and sand. There is green, too, but it’s in the fronds of the many palm trees or in the shrubbery that lines portions of the streets. Massive villas, like oversized beige toy blocks, sit shoulder to shoulder in rows, locked behind beige walls with ornate black metal gates. Downtown, there is steel and glass covering the skyscrapers which jut upwards at intervals, interspersed with beige strip malls only two stories high.

Look up and the sky is either hazy or piercingly blue. The sun beats down with vigor, lending a sharpness to everything it touches. The cars, not beige, but white, silver or black, crowd one another tightly on the highways, city blocks and in parking lots. The people are often neutral, too, with men in white robes and women in black. My eyes are only starting to learn to see the details hidden in plain view, to adjust to sights which feel odd now but will soon become familiar. I look forward to identifying the grains of sand hidden in the desert that now surrounds me.