(Written July 2012) My daughter and I have been home now in Kuwait for a month, after our almost-four-month absence, and we've been slowly readjusting (or adjusting) to life here. There were a few things I'd forgotten about life in Kuwait; namely traffic and heat. Both of which can kill you.
The traffic isn't any worse than it was, but literally within seconds of being back on the road here, I was reminded of the basic driving rules: politeness can kill, it's not possible to be too close to the next car and expect to be overtaken on any and all on and off-ramps. I made the mistake of trying to give-way to someone merging and they just stared at me as if I was a driving chicken. Bottom line: if you haven't been exposed to politeness, then it's truly a foreign concept, so quit holding up the important people and move along, please.
My first foray to the Mall (to join the handful of other mall walkers, mostly women in black flowing abayas with white sneakers peeking out with each determined step and earbuds tucked under their head scarves), I found myself cussing like a rabid sailor within minutes of entering the traffic flow. So my personal goal now is to learn how to drive here without the expletives; personally, I'm not convinced it can be done.
The temperatures were another hurdle, though I have yet to cuss about them. When we left the U.S. a month ago, we left behind hot and sticky, and walked right in to a whole new level of hot. In the last month, the daily high temps have never gone below 100, with multiple days reaching 120. It's almost amusing to check the weekly temps. For this coming week, the lowest "low" temp is 97, with three days having a low over 100. Meaning in the dead of night, it's still 101 degrees outside. The highs range from 113 to 130. Now, I recognize that even with these numbers, we cannot claim the hottest place on earth, which is apparently the Lut Desert in Iran, with recorded temps of 159. But I can definitely say we're close enough and I'd even go so far as to say that this confirms our zip code is at least a suburb of Hades. Living in heat like this presents some additional issues beyond the basics of trying to avoid sunburn, dehydration, and heat prostration daily. Not surprisingly, air conditioning is stretched to the max. And when you already have iffy A/C like ours (which is the cause for our up-coming move from our villa to an apartment... yes, the turmoil and upheaval just keep on coming), it makes for super duper iffy A/C.
Opening the car gate or even the front door on our villa presented additional challenges, unless you wanted to leave a layer of DNA behind. It required quick fingertips to unlock or unbolt, then use of one's knees, elbows or toes to further open so as to avoid direct contact. I've considered walking around with oven mitts, but can't quite squeeze them into the diaper bag.
Another issue is taking a shower. Unless you manage to grab one as the sun rises around 4:15am, you are faced with taking a very quick scalding shower, and that's with the cold tap blasting. If you're feeling super efficient, you can probably boil pasta for dinner while you lather, rinse, repeat. And the hot water isn't just in the shower. The toilet water is hot and filling the cats' water bowl up has required some ingenuity with the use of ice cubes. Lions in the Sahara may not mind a warm drink in a sun-baked pool, but our prissy housecats look very put out when their water is more than tepid.
Our household's use of chap stick and hand lotion has also increased exponentially. Even my husband requested some "non girly" hand lotion the other night due to the dryness. The baby's lips actually chapped in her first week home, so we now blast our penguin humidifier at night, and liberally apply Vaseline to her lips throughout the day.
During one of my infrequent driving outings, I noticed that the plastic covering on the interior of the driver's door was almost melting off the frame. And the thermometer we have on the dashboard couldn't keep up and just stopped working entirely. One of my stupider moments was when I was trying to get just a little more out of our car's A/C, and I switched the vents from recirculate to external and was instantly covered in hot sand and dust and could see it blowing through the vents into the car. I immediately switched back and then raced home to a nice boiling shower.
Not everything is negative. One benefit is that laundry, such as throw rugs and cloth diapers, dry lickety-quick outside, as does my hair. And when I hosed off the fifteen layers of dust from our car the other day, and it dried so quickly there wasn't time for water spots. So minute silver linings can be spotted, if you squint (which you have to anyways, otherwise you get sun blindness).