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Monday, October 18, 2010

Day 28, Friday - Kuwait

Today was full of beach activities! Latifia, Nasser, and I started off with the ATV, which they let me drive (actually, that was probably the safest choice as I am the one with a driver’s license). Lina came with us too for a bit, so we all piled on and drove around on the road outside the house. Then some of the cousins came over and we drove over to their beach house (Aunt Seena’s).
View from Aunt Lina's beach house

Me on the ATV

Nassar and Latifa

Once there we decided to go back for our swimsuits, so we drove back, got dressed, and I drove the car back over because Aunt Lina needed to get some work done while we went swimming.

We got in the water and everyone was complaining about how cold it was. Let me tell you, these people don’t know what cold water feels like. The temperature was mid to upper 80’s and the water was barely colder than the air, after a few seconds it doesn’t feel cool at all, just the right temperature to keep you from feeling hot.

Me dressed to go swimming (this is over my regular swimsuit, I borrowed them from Noora's drawer). I'm standing in the room I slept in at Aunt Lina's.

From Aunt Seena's beach house

Everybody has jet-skis here and I quickly learned that the guys have a favorite past-time of driving up close and turning so that they splash you and you get soaked (if they do it “right”). This is also how I discovered that the water is really salty, since I didn’t turn away fast enough the first time and it got in my eye. I also got good at spotting guys coming to splash us and the only defense is to turn away and squeeze your eyes shut.

A little bit later, Maha got out their jet-ski and they took me out on that. They let me drive it around too, which was a lot of fun, and they said I’m pretty good. :) We also took out a thing called a “donut” which is like a puffy circle chair thing that you sit on, and hold on to for dear life if Maha is driving. I had a blast, except for the split second I was only half-on the thing and thought I might go flying (don’t worry mom, I was wearing a life-vest, and I didn’t actually fall off, only half way, onto the arm-rest part…)

Maha and Dana (Seena's daughters) with the jet-ski
We ate lunch at Aunt Seena’s and when I put some on my plate she said “That’s nothing! There’s no food there! Here…” and she proceeded to place twice as much as I had put on the plate myself (meaning 3x the original amount). When I had eaten that she put on more. No one is happy enough with the amount I eat. I can’t win. Oh, she also gave me the most amazing doughnut ever: it had chocolate icing with chocolate chips and chunks of toffee on top with some kind of toffee filling. It was really good. After lunch it was time to go since Latifa, Hiba (Seena’s daughter) and I had a wedding to go to.

In one of the rooms at Lina’s chalet, they have a “Wall of Fame” where anyone who comes to visit writes or draws something. I found where my dad had written when he was there and I wrote next to it (I had to get a chair to reach though…)

Invitation card to get into the wedding

We were supposed to leave the house by 8pm since that was what time the wedding started. I think we left around 9:30pm or something (in a limo, which belongs to Lina’s company) and we took the scenic route, apparently. We got there a little after 10pm and we sat down right before the lights dimmed for the bride to enter.

Our ride to the wedding

Hiba, Latifa, and Me

This is the jacket that I wore (to be more covered outside and when the men came in). Also, jewelry is a must, so Lina lent me a few things.
And now, for a bit about Kuwaiti weddings:

First, this was the women’s part of the wedding, so it was only females until the groom is brought in by his entourage towards the end. The room was a long rectangle with chairs set on levels about four deep along three of the walls so that everyone can clearly see the floor in the middle. Along the last wall is set up a sort of stage with a couch for the bride.

After the men had come in so everyone was covered and I could take some pictures. The bride is the one in white at the very end of the room. The groom is standing next to her. I wanted to give you an idea of the shape of the room.
The point of having things set up this way is so that you can have a good view of the bride as well as everyone who is dancing. This was a smaller wedding, so you could see everyone pretty well. Basically, if you are dancing, you are preforming for everyone else. I had not been aware of this when they taught me the dance. Lina had told me that mothers and grandmothers sort of scout out potential wives for their sons/grandsons/brothers at these weddings because it is one of the few times girls can be seen without their abayas and head-scarves. Think prom dresses.

We mostly watched for a while. Turns out we sat on the wrong side (we were there with the groom’s side) but nobody seemed to care. They brought around chocolates and coffee (my favorite was one that had something like crumbled Oreo cookie and peanut butter inside) and people danced for the next couple hours.

Every time a new song started, they played the same little refrain, which I could never quite make-out, but it was something along the lines of this guy shouting “Wallah, salaam, all-ay, Mohammad!” Don’t quote me on that though. Anyways, the music was also played really loudly so that if you wanted to talk to someone you had to talk right in their ear. After each song, everyone clears the dance floor, waits for the refrain and the music to start again, and then rejoins the dancing.

A cousin of Latifa’s was also there so Latifa and I finally decided to go say hi so that we could all dance together. The dancing, as I mentioned, is this sort of two-step which is done going down the long room one way and when you reach the end you turn around and do it back the other way. Then repeat. You also have to move your hands and arms as you go. People are going both directions and sometimes at different paces, so you kind of have to navigate around people while attempting to look graceful.

There were also a few specific dances: one or two where it was only the older ladies doing a scarf-dance, and towards the end of the night a few Egyptian ones where you belly-dance if you know how (I do not. I watched).

Groom entering
You can also go up and take a picture with the bride if you want. Around midnight all the women put on their abayas/head scarves/coats/sweaters/etc. and the groom and his wedding party finally came in. There was lots of traditional greeting of people and then all of the men except the groom left. The cake was brought out but before they cut it the bride danced for the groom (in the same way we had all done) and then their families gathered around them cheering and doing some special dances. Finally, they cut the cake. Now, one of the women had done a dance with a sword, and then set it down on the table with the cake and I was thinking “Wouldn’t that be cool if they cut the cake with the sword,” and they did.

Bride dancing for the groom

The Wedding Party
After that we got to eat, around 12:30 or 1am. There were dozens of things to choose from: skewered meat, pasta with lots of sauce, bread, hummus, cheese, etc. Then we went back to dance, with our shoes off. Somewhere in here the groom disappeared and I think the bride did too before we left, I just don’t know when, I never saw a big send off.

For dessert there were fruit tarts, crème caramel, chocolates, some kind of orange flaky thing Latifa made me eat, and more. This was followed by a little more dancing before we left some time after 2am. We had to go through a police check point on the way home and they made us pull over with a bunch of other cars. The driver went and talked to someone (they just wanted to make sure nothing crazy was going on) and we went home.

And that was Friday…
My shoes
The Wedding favor (it's perfume)


  1. Wow, Isabelle! Great job with your descriptions and pictures. It was very similar with a few differences to the wedding I went to over 27 years ago! You look GORGEOUS! and I love the jewelry. ;)

  2. You finally had your chocolate donut!!! This one was just really fancy :)

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