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Stormy Sands and Summer Plans

May 1, 2011

Just had a Turkish Coffee, and before I crash from it I wanted to build on this second wind I’ve gotten (as I sit in the cafe, the time nearing 7PM).  With six weeks left in the school year, there are two directions I can go as a teacher. I refuse to “check-out” or wing-it until June 16th. Even though, plans for the summer are still on my mind.

The American School of Kuwait will be flying me home in June via Lufthansa Airlines, with a layover in Frankfurt, Germany. Since it’s up to me to pick the exact dates of my departure from both Kuwait and Frankfurt, I did what many ASK employees do and extended my layover in Germany – extended it to about 13 days. Free flight to Central Europe? Okay. With a list that originally began with seven countries, I’ve been able to narrow it down to 3. As of now, those 13 days will be spent backpacking Germany, Switzerland, and Holland (with possible day stop overs in Luxembourg and/or Brussels). I chose these based on recommendations from friends, a personal interest in the outdoors (and beer), and the proximal conduciveness to train travel.

This will be my first time traveling on my own. Which I’ve been itching to do because I’m eager for the responsibility and the experience. My attention and focus to detail I’ve noticed decreases when I’m traveling with others. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel with savvy, experienced, well-prepared individuals that pretty much make up the plans for me. And trusting their judgement I’m oft to say, Let’s do it! to a majority of their questions. Now that I’ll be on my own, I can use my recent experiences to find the best hostels, landmarks, restaurants for me…all on my own! This will also be a test in meeting new people, something I’m not always good at initiating. Also, need to figure out the train system. Considering tutoring for this last month to pay off a Eurail Pass, it being over $400 and all.

What else is happening? Thinking of buying a car. Right now I’m short-term leasing, but I’d really like to buy so I can sell the rig back when I eventually leave for…greener pastures(?) Speaking of driving, last night we had our second big sandstorm of the year. But this one was different because it was raining, and thundering, and lightening. I realizes I imitate the same posture while driving in a sand storm as in a snowstorm – windshield wipers on high, body hunched over until my chin is basically on the steering wheel, head-ache induced eye-squinting, going about maybe 40km/h.

So, I was driving west on 4th Ring Rd. thinking I’ll stop by Carre Four for some groceries, maybe buy myself a new backpack. The picture is from the last sandstorm (which was quite worse), but what I saw when I was driving yesterday was not far off. Mind you this is at 5:00 in the afternoon; sunset is still a long way away. I looked ahead of me, a brown wall of sand (reminiscent of the movie The Mummy). I looked in my rearview, clear blue skies. Hmm…I thought, maybe it’s not as bad as it looks. I changed my mind quick and skipped on to the freeway to Mahboula – 20 minutes south. At this point the storm is just reaching me – blue skies to my left, dark skies to my right.

Taken from our teacher building in Mahboula. An un-altered pic of approaching sandstorm in March (photo courtesy of a Facebook friend)

Few minutes later…I was driving down The 40 (King Fahad something-or-other-freeway) and I’m going through the muddiest rain I have ever seen. My windshield wipers alone didn’t work well enough because the mixture of rain and sand is just creating a sludge on the glass. The best I could do was continually use the windshield wiper fluid. One big difference between the two storms is that one can pull over on the side of the road and wait for the sand storm to settle before continuing to drive. As I neared my exit, which I almost missed, was the first time I’d ever felt my car swerve from strong winds.

Got to my apartment and checked my surfaces…yep, dust everywhere. It wasn’t as bad as the one in March, where literal clouds of dust built up in my apartment (cover your electronics!), lingered, and forced me to a friends place on the gulf side of the building with less in-door dust. Never while I’ve been here has our school had indoor recess because of rain, but we’ve had many indoor recesses because of dust.  It’s the same reason camels have such thick eyelashes.

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