Hello fellow wanderers! I hope this finds you well, wherever in the world you are.
Today I had the pleasure of hanging out at a Chalet for the afternoon.
“So what exactly is a Chalet, anyway?” asked P on one of our Skype dates.
“Well, it’s like…it’s like, a special place where Kuwaitis go on the weekends,” I replied. I actually had no clue what a Kuwaiti Chalet was. Until I Googled it.
I first encountered the idea of going to a Chalet in my student’s writer’s journals. Many of them told me that they spent their summer holidays at their Chalet (when they weren’t off traveling to some of the most wonderful, exotic and beautiful places around the world, that is.) I never really bothered to look it up because I assumed it was a specific resort in Kuwait (like the Hilton, for example) where people can go swimming and enjoy a private beach.
It turns out, Kuwaiti Chalets are enormous private beach-houses situated on the Gulf next to the nicest beaches in the country. I opted out of a day at the gym to see what Chalet-ing was all about.
My principal, Department Head (henceforth JC) and one of the elementary school teachers were extended the invitation by the mother of one of our students. We set out to the Chalet around lunchtime. During our time at the Chalet we were treated to some of the most delicious food I’ve had since being here in Kuwait. The family was kind enough to make food that was vegetarian friendly for JC and I. We feasted on veggie samosas, shrimp, potatoes, salad with pomegranate, fruit and french fries. There was also tons of chicken, rice and other meat for the carnivore-types. After washing lunch down with freshly squeezed orange juice, the dessert table was rolled out and it included tons of fruit, mousse, cake, and a variety of pastries and cookies. For your own future reference, Kuwaitis will never accept that you’ve had enough to eat and they keep offering you more and more food – which you should respectfully take. I ate three plates full.
We followed our lunch with steaming hot tea, wonderful conversation and a stroll along the beach while the sun was setting. The boys were keen to find ALL of the absolute best sea shells for JC & I. In addition to all of the sea urchins, oysters, and dead fish, we did see some pretty nifty rocks and got many gorgeous shells for our respective collections.
Afterwards, all the boys wanted to play some good ol’ football (soccer for my North American readers) Along the way we picked fresh lemons from their lemon trees – which I ate directly after picking, yum! We had to bypass the orange trees because they were not ripe yet. An excellent football match was had and our evening concluded with cappuccino, tea and more desserts. We sat on the verandah, staring at the Gulf, and enjoying great conversation with the moms and aunties of the family. JC and I agreed that we felt all too spoiled. We definitely felt like Kuwaiti royalty. As we piled into my principals car, we were presented with a massive container full of Kuwaiti dates. We couldn’t thank our hosts and hostesses enough for their wonderful company, food and generosity. For the record: Kuwaiti hospitality is second to none.
Three Facts About Kuwait:
- Kuwait has some pretty severe sandstorms. The entire country can shut down for as many as three days. They are sort of our North American “Snow Day” equivalent.
- There are farms here in Kuwait. It might seem impossible, but some Kuwaitis own their own farms where they grow different produce. Some farms even have their own chickens and cows!
- Talking about cancer here is very taboo. Sometimes you’ll find that student’s parents are simply “away” in a different country for some vague medical treatment. It is not something that is discussed, least of all with strangers.
New (To Me) Arabic Word:
So-So (Comme-Ci Comme-Ca) – Nos-Nos
(Exciting News: I’ve signed up for an Arabic course – so I am hoping that my “New (To Me) Arabic Word” section will be a bit fuller and more interesting with each new blog post!)