So, lets begin at the beginning. My flight to Kuwait. Now, if you consult your map or really, Google Maps, you will see that Kuwait is literally on the other side of the world. Since they have yet to make apparition a real thing outside of the Harry Potter books, that means taking a long flight, or three long flights in my case.
My flight was booked for August 15th and because of a little snafu referred to as canceling the flight, my trip got extended from two legs to three. My first flight was Delta and the second two were KLM, but they are partner companies. I had issues with checking online and through several long phone calls with the KLM representatives and a lengthy exchange of elderly cat stories, I was given a $125 voucher for future use on KLM. I think it was more for my cat stories than for my trouble, but either way, kudos to KLM customer service.
Anyway, I had to wait to check in when I got to the airport. Apparently if you have a one way flight to the Middle East, they want to check your passport first. Also, your sanity. After checking in, my first flight to Atlanta was smooth and uneventful. Atlanta to Amsterdam, however, was looooooong, around eight hours. If you’ve ever been on an overseas flight, you know even the best airlines pack you in. There is usually a row of 2-3 seats, then a row in the middle of 4, then another row of 2-3 seats. I paid for an aisle, but I was in the middle column of seats. The guy next to me took up most of the armrest and even put one of his feet in my space. Enraged on the inside, yet angelic on the outside, the narrative in my head the first 20 minutes of the flight would have gotten me ejected from the flight if it had been said out loud. Eventually, watching the movie adaptation of Wild with Reese Witherspoon calmed me down. KLM served food twice on that flight and that helped also.
The final flight from Amsterdam to Kuwait, I had a seat in the emergency row thanks to KLM cat extraordinaire and I couldn’t have been happier. We ended up flying over Iraq and Iran and were able to see the fires of the oil refineries below. There had to have been hundreds.
KLM again served food and cinnamon buns and a handsome man on the plane helped me with my luggage. Great way to end a flight if you ask me.
Five hours later, we landed. I knew that as soon as I disembarked the plane there would be someone from Hala Kuwait, an awesome service that helps people new to the country nagivate customs. There were six people outside the gate, each holding signs with names on them. I scanned the names. No Erin Convery. I scanned again, sure that I was so delirious from exhaustion that I couldn’t read. No Erin Convery. I scanned several more times before adopting the lost puppy face and wondering if I could just dash back onto the plan and say “Good Game Kuwait” and get out of there.
Instead I went with a more rational approach and asked them if they were looking for me. One guy at the end said he had forgotten that he had a second sign. He brought it out and my name was on it. Now, I could not recommend this service enough. We basically bypassed all lines and the whole process was seamless. The luggage carousels at Kuwait are a nightmare. Imagine your average luggage carousel at your local airport. Then shrink it to one-fourth of its size and you will have what they look like in Kuwait. Then pack in hundreds of people. Hala Kuwait helped us to gather all our bags from the mass of people and put them on a huge cart to take to our van. If you are at all interested in travel to Kuwait or Abu Dhabi, consider them. Its super inexpensive as well.
When we got to the apartment, my awesome mentor showed me around. The place is so much larger than I ever imagined. They take care of teachers very well here and it is RENT FREE. Check out future posts for pictures and videos of the living space.
The next day I woke up late and started scattering things from luggage all over said living space. Then, looking forward to trying some local cuisine, my friend and I (who I had just met) went for a walk. Or maybe a swim was more accurate since it was 105 and muggy. Anyway, we walked two blocks and were greeted with local, aromatic dishes from all directions. NOT. In the complex along what is referred to here as the Arabian Gulf, was a Starbucks, P.F. Chang’s, Cheesecake Factory, IHOP, Shake Shack, and Texas Roadhouse. Being the seasoned traveler that I am, I decided to keep walking and to venture out of my culinary comfort zone. WRONG AGAIN. I went to Starbucks.
Starbucks was pretty awesome actually. There was an outdoor seating area with seven giant air conditioning devices that were each double my size to encourage people to eat outside. I appreciate their effort but I already looked like I had been caught in a rare downpour so I declined and went inside. The woman working there offered me a stack of napkins and I wondered why I would need that many. I hadn’t even ordered food yet and the stack was pretty large. Then I realized they were for my profusely sweating body. I thanked her profusely as well.
The cool thing was that this Starbucks had the same drinks we have in the states, and then some new drinks. They advertised a Lemon Meringue Frapuccino and I tried out a Lemon Mint Refresher that was tart and delicious.
Also people were super friendly. One Kuwaiti woman asked to sit at our table for a minute and asked if we would help her and be a conversation partner so that she could become more fluent in English. Honestly, people here are actually very friendly, welcoming, and hospitable. Especially towards Americans. They say it goes back to American assistance when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1991. Since then, Americans have been welcomed and included. It is honestly pretty cool.
The next day, a bus ride to my new school of employment began my exploration of this new country and ended my first 24 hours across the world.