Sunday, June 3, 2012

Have I Got a Deal for You, on a Slightly Used Camel

Last week the temperature for most days was above 111° at the high point and just below 90° late at night. Due to the nature of my job, I generally don't spend a lot of time outside; more or less just the time it takes me to get from one air-conditioned building to the next. This week was a bit different when the air conditioning in my building went out for the first three days. The first two days were just uncomfortable as the temperatures went above 90° inside; on the third day we topped 100°. This of course was made worse by the amount of computer equipment that sits in the office with us. But, by Thursday morning it had been fixed just in time for a huge dust storm that started that night and this continued on through today. Gotta love the weather in Kuwait; ‘cause it don’t love you.

On Thursday afternoon, before the sandstorm really got to it, I was heading off base and near the gate I saw a Bedouin man with a couple of camels standing there just off the road. He had set up a small area and was inviting the Americans who were leaving work for the day to pull over and get photographed with his camels. You've got to admire anyone who in this heat could still show an entrepreneurial spirit. Seeing him brought to mind the Bedouin folk here who deal with this heat nine months out of the year for their entire life. I pulled over briefly, even though I didn't have my camera with me, just to meet the man for future reference.

He wore a tribal Shemagh rather than the typical white headdress that most Kuwaitis wear, and a long robe rather than a dishdash.  His face was dark and the skin almost looked like tanned leather but with deep wrinkles from spending years in the sun. He smiled quite a bit and was very animated when he talked about his camels and the fact that everyone should own one.  His English was much better than my six phrases of Arabic, so we spoke in English.  He shook my hand and invited me to be photographed with the animal, but I explained I didn't have a camera with me that day. He made me promise to stop by the next time I had my camera so that he and his camels could pose with me for only 2 KD (about $7.40).  He then whispered that if I brought a friend who had his picture taken as well, he would lower the price to 1 KD for me.  Shrewd businessman.

When you consider that he and his relatives have lived for centuries out in the sands of this inhospitable climate and have managed to thrive despite its harshness and dangerousness I have to give them my respect for being able to do so. When you compare dealing with the heat for just three days to living in a tent in the open desert, I'm sure I would not be cut out for such a life.  Heck, I don't even own a single camel, but I do now a guy who might be willing to sell me one.

I saw this in the paper this week and found it amusing.

'Mermaid hunter' at Messilah Beach?

A man was taken to the Psychiatric Hospital after coastguards plucked him out of the sea where he had been, reportedly, looking for mermaid. Coastguards reported to the scene, near the Messilah Beach, following reports of a man walking into the sea with his clothes on in what passersby thought was a suicide attempt. After the man was located and rescued, he told officers that he was simply looking for a mermaid he believes to be in the area. After failing to convince the adamant man out of his plans, the officers offered to help him go to another beach and search for mermaids there. Their ploy worked and they instead escorted the man to the mental facility.

I have not seen a single mermaid since I've been here, although I really can't say that for sure. Think about it, wouldn't a mermaid in Kuwait wear a burqua or an abaya?  With that on, how could you see her tail?

I've got to get me one of those before the next sandstorm.

Until next week.


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