As I suspected, my last post caused a few ripples through my expat world. I knew that not everyone would agree with me, which is one of the things I love about this blogging lark, allowing debate amongst expats and see what different perspectives people have. So here we are again, with probably a less divisive post. Schools out for summer and the mass expat exodus has begun. There are a few that will be literally running for the plane, eagerly waiting to be out of the hot sandpit, have a G&T in hand and know they have the next 2 and bit months to enjoy the normality of their home countries. Then there are a few of us, deemed hard core by the rest, that aren’t running for the hills but instead plan to hang around that little bit longer. I pondered this vast difference between my circle of friends and asked myself, does the summer break, make or break a desert expat?
Life in Kuwait isn’t always easy. There are some that are never really able to get over the frustrations and somewhat random scenarios that occur here. If you are coming from a conformist life in the UK, you couldn’t get more different, the culture, the weather, the landscape, the attitude is the complete opposite. Now, for me, that was never a down side, the more random the better, a new adventure is then truly new and not my old life simulated in a different location. Having said that even for me, it was a shock to the system, so I know it can take some adjustment.
I know I go on about the heat, but in all seriousness you will never really get it, until you have lived it. Most people in their lifetimes won’t experience many moments where the temperature is over 36 degrees, which is perfect for your Spanish holiday but even then can be hard to deal with. So imagine having at least 4 months where its over 40 and reaching above 50 in the height of the summer?! You can’t right. This is officially the hottest place on earth and I never fully comprehended what those temperatures would feel like, let alone get to a point where it seems doable.
So the heat is a serious factor to consider when Kuwait is your new home. Those desert girls with children can find this a challenge, as school hours have earlier starts, are AC induced and outdoor time limited for obvious reasons. This isn’t ideal but the reality of the desert life. So as the summer hits and the heat cranks up it seems necessary to escape with the kids and for the vast majority this is the only option. It’s a given, no need to have the discussion, it’s the way its always been and that’s not changing.
What about those that don’t have to worry about the little ones over heating or being cooped up in doors? I got to tell you it’s a mixed bag. I know some women who have made it a condition of them being out here, they vanish the moment June is in sight and will return mid September as the dust storms blow in cooler climes. They simply will not endure the summer, not just because of the heat, but because their is social circle is boarding the BA flight back to normality. Why on earth would they endure a long hot summer as Billy No Mates, when they could have Aperol Spritzers in the garden, telling stories of their exotic desert life, to the ladies they left behind?
The ever decreasing expat circle, so who’s left? Well there are the few like myself, who will simply take the usual summer vacation of 2 weeks. I have tried the other scenarios, especially in the early years, but it no longer works for me. It’s too long to be away from what is ultimately my life and my husband. I struggle with slotting into my old life, running around like a mad women seeing everyone and trying to fulfil everyone’s expectations.
It’s tough; It’s not quite a holiday but it’s not quite home either
It’s this weird hybrid of the two, where I end up feeling out of place. I love seeing my family and if I could take the 19 hours travel out of it, the expense, and spend 2 weeks under the radar, just me and them, not a care in the world, it would be bliss, but thats not the reality. Everyone has to find this very fine balance, them fitting me into their routines, me getting enough time with them and also making the most of “normal”. When its family and you miss them, its hard, so I’ve learnt to find a compromise that works but as everyone finds their groove, its time for me to go.
That pretty much covers most people I know, obviously there are plenty of expats that have jobs, so can’t take more than what most would deem a “normal holiday” even if the thought of 2 months off sounded idyllic. I am sure they look at us and think we are just living up to the usual expat wife projection of swanning in and out as we please! And of course there are the men! This always makes me a little sad and one of the main reasons I stay put. In every summer scenario (unless they are teachers) no ones husband is getting the 10 weeks off. The wives and kids are shipping out but the guys are here.
While you’re sipping on your Aperol, they are still drinking Diet Pepsi over their meal for one!
I’m being dramatic and I am sure there are plenty of men that relish the fact they have the house, the remote, the hot water, all to themselves and are quite happy living off Talabat, noodles or pizza whenever they want. However, whilst this sounds fantastic, I’m sure that even the most seasoned of summer bachelors would admit it’s a long summer alone.
Its never going to be easy deciding what to do and I blame the heat entirely. If this was an European climate, no one would disappear for the length of time most do. Whilst the heat is the culprit, there are many that use it as the only way they can “survive” the other 10 months of the year. That one guarantee, gives them an out (however short term) to make the rest of the year bearable. Is it really that bad? To me no, but seriously there are people that regain their sanity and perspective in the summer break, in order to make it back to the land of sand. If you think about it, 10 weeks out, back for another 15 and it’s Christmas. These markers, for some, are a the only way to see past the randomness of this life, to gain control and plan guaranteed normalcy. Whilst, I see it as the next travel opportunity, rather than a must have escape, there are plenty whose summer break, would truly break them if they had to stay.