You will be glad to hear that I have fully recovered from my travel zombieness and am back into the swing of desert life. I am glad to say that it felt a lot easier coming back this time, than in January, possibly because I know there is a shorter gap between returning to my little isle, but I was actually missing my life here. There is a lot to be said about getting a change of scenery that makes you appreciate all you have, as they say absence makes the heart grow fonder and I am truly quite fond of our Arabian adventure. So yes its good to be back, but when I was walking back from my morning yoga class, my zen like mood quickly dissipated, as all i could think was it’s too bloody hot!
As you may recall in my post The great escape one of the main factors, both expats and Kuwaitis indulge in a mass exodus from the country is the heat. I was lucky enough to have escaped the ridiculous extremes of July which are beyond comprehension. Whilst I was sat in Jersey, enjoying a balmy 26 degrees and listening to everyone, including my mum say it was too hot, my attention was drawn back to the ITV News, when I heard Kuwait mentioned. It turns out that the previous day the country had reached a staggering 54 degrees (129 if you prefer), making it on that day officially
the hottest place on earth…..and the hottest in the eastern hemisphere EVER!
I was somewhat glad that I had not experienced that day, but spare a thought for my poor Hubby , who said thank goodness he was in the confines of his air con office all day, but had struggled to breathe even making the limited walk to the car home. I just couldn’t get my head around what that heat must have felt like, and yes the official record was 54 but you can guarantee that there were some places that would have exceeded that! When I read the article in The Guardian, I chuckled to myself when they quoted a soldier’s tweet, which sums up everyone’s feelings on a Kuwaiti summer.
“You know it’s hot in Kuwait when 100 degrees feels nice”
When our travels plans were finally confirmed to make our move to Kuwait, we were slightly concerned that we would be arriving in August, when temperatures are soaring. It was literally a baptism of fire, as we landed at 9.30pm and it was still 48 degrees, I was in shock. I remember walking out the airport terminal into an undercover walk way to the car park, I turned to my Hubby and said we are still inside right!? I couldn’t comprehend that the outside temperature could feel anything like this. I was imagining, naively, that it would be like heading to Spain on your summer holidays, getting off the plane and feeling that lovely warmth hit your skin and you know that this will be holiday to remember. Erm no……It was like someone had got a hair dryer on full pelt and was standing there pointing it directly into your face! And this was at 9.30pm at night, I was not looking forward to feeling what our first day would bring.
Those initial few weeks we were experiencing 48-50 degrees most days. We quickly realised that this is why the roads are so busy, no one walks here, not even short distances, because quite frankly there comes a point you just can’t. I recall waiting to cross the road to get to the local supermarket, which was only 20 yards away, it had gone 6pm and as I stood waiting for the traffic to subside I could feel this tingling feeling on my feet as they were exposed in my flip-flops. Kuwait has very low humidity so it is just extreme dry heat and even as I write this, it is hard to fully get across what it really feels like.
It’s the kind of heat that makes me go a little doolally, yes more than normal. We viewed an apartment one day and Hubby wanted to walk the street, to see what the area was like, I may add at this point I was dead against this, as it was too hot to be wandering aimlessly about. However off we went for this “short” walk and after 10 minutes I was starting to really struggle. I had sunblock on and a hat but my walk was getting slower and I was finding it harder to breath. I said to Hubby we really need to stop and he agreed so tried to flag a taxi. As we stood there he said, as I have no recollection of this, that I just went odd, started taking gibberish and was walking in a circle like a dog trying to catch its own tail! Now if its hadn’t been for the heat then I may have been committed that day, but once in the cool of a near by shopping centre and a gallon of water I was back in the land of the living. But wow what a scary moment and a stupid one at that for us as desert newbies.
Now I am happy to say that 2 years on, we have acclimatised to the weather here and think nothing of sunbathing in mid 40 temperatures, it’s hot but it has become bearable. It’s funny that after such a short time my desert gals and I can have a discussion where we think that is cooler than last year, when in fact it’s the same we just cope with it better. It’s easy for us to escape to these indoor fridges we call Malls but I do feel for the workers. They are still outside during this extreme heat, construction of buildings continue and their daily outdoor routines. I see the road sweepers and city gardeners squatting under the shadows of their garbage carts, just to get a rest bite from sun’s harsh gaze and feel somewhat guilty as I drive past in the comfort of my temperature regulated car. The downside of desert life for those that have no choice.
We are already half way through August and I have smirked hearing comments between expats like “oh only a month or so and it will be cooler”. It’s cooler alright but it’s funny when 38/40 becomes something to look forward to! The expats parents will flood back as the school terms start, wishing for September to disappear so weekends can be spent back at the pool and the kids can have their freedom back. I will keep topping up my tan as soon as I can last more than 20 minutes and I relish the days when the Brits will be swarming the beach for beautiful late 20’s sun, whilst the Kuwaitis start digging out the jumpers and scarfs! For now I’m limited to early morning excursions to the supermarket and gym. The heat is certainly on but my air con is firmly blasting round the clock.