Tag Archives: Kuwait

Fly by Night. . . and Day

27 Nov

At about 9:00pm I head on over to the airport. As is the norm, the hotel has arranged a complimentary car for me. The airport is very well-organized and I have no trouble finding my way around. I check-in for my flight without anyone even suggesting that I should check my completely allowable carry-on (oh, I’m not bitter). I have quite a bit of time before my flight so I wander through the shops.

I look for a Duty Free store to price some alcohol before realizing, well duh. I might as well be searching for a pork chop. I’ve already picked up some Turkish Delight and Apple Tea while at the mall. These are Turkish Delightthings I used to enjoy when I worked in Turkey. Actually, I only enjoyed the Apple Tea. I never acquired a tasted for Turkish Delight. To me, it tastes similar to the only other candy in this world that I dislike, Candy Corn. Dislike is too mild of a word. I truly hate the stuff (and can’t for the life of me figure out why it’s called corn). Anyway, the Turkish Delight is for friends, as I’m hoping they enjoy it more than me. It turns out they don’t and, when we look at the ingredients, we like it even less (what the hell is soapwood and why, of why, would it be in candy?).

For lack of anything else to do I wander over to my gate. Going through security I note the subtle differences between U.S. airport security and Kuwaiti security (and German as a matter of fact). In the U.S. you take off your shoes and leave your iPad and Kindle in your bag. In Kuwait and Germany your shoes stay on but the iPad and Kindle come out. Strange.

As I continue my people watching I note that there seem to be very few women traveling on their own. I am not judging at all, just noticing. In Kuwait (as well as many European airports) you wait outside in the main hallway until about 45 minutes before your flight when you are allowed to enter the boarding area. I strike up a nice conversation with the flight crew who think my 49 hours in Kuwait is ridiculous. Yeh, that’s right, I’m a professional. Don’t try this at home (uh, I guess that would be impossible).

Before long we board our flight to Frankfurt. I have a window seat with the two seats next to me vacant. Yes, my plan has worked. I reserved this seat online noting that, at least at that moment, those seats were not assigned. Yes, seat strategy is my specialty. I catch a little nap and awake 45 minutes before landing in Frankfurt.

I grab an incredible breakfast of fruit and yogurt (why does breakfast in Europe always Breakfasttaste so good?) and take a look around the duty-free store. I really want to by that bottle of fine Scotch but I’ve come carry-on and the U.S. airports will not appreciate my excess liquid (I consider whether I might be able to drink it before arriving in the U.S. but that would be a terrible waste of perfectly good scotch).

I head on over to my gate and board my flight. As I walk back to my seat I look ahead and see what appears to be a family taking up all of the seats in my assigned row. When I approach to claim my seat the man stands and says that the airline has seated him separate from his family and he would like my seat. Okay, here’s the deal – I try really hard to be a nice person. I really do. I tell him I would be happy to switch seats with him if one of his assigned seats includes a window (I’m a leaner and sleeper and, with 15 more hours of flying ahead of me, I have my Ambien at the ready). He looks at me and, quite rudely says, “Of course I do!” Then he turns his back on me. Hhhmmmmm, not sure what to make of this. With great attitude I sneer at him and respond, “Hey, I’m trying to help you.” Sorry sir, you have been voted out of my seat. I give him my best flared nostril, evil eye look, take my seat and start to nest. His wife and son remain seated in the middle and aisle seats. He remains standing for a while seemingly undecided about what to do next. He eventually takes his seat in a middle seat in the middle section (seriously, this is the seat he wanted to trade me for? I’m nice, just not that nice).

Kids on AirplanesThe rest of the flight is – how shall I put it – HELL! It’s like his 3-year-old son works as a hit man for his father and decided that I will pay for the injustice I delivered upon his father. Each time I get near a peaceful sleep the kid throws pretzels and matchbox cars at me. He then proceeds to kick me or simply puts his hand on my shoulder, enough to imply, “Hey lady, wake up.” At one point he is laying with his head across his mother’s lap and his feet across my lap. Fully stretched out. Please understand that I work with children and understand the difficulty of traveling with them. I am very understanding as long as I see or hear the parent making an effort to teach them good behavior. There was no effort. And oh, mom doesn’t speak English. There was no apparent effort in any language.

At some point I notice a smell that I often smell in the nursery at work. Ah, the unmistakable smell of poop. I wait for the smell to waft on over to mom. She must have an idea this would be coming as we’ve been on the plane for 5 hours and she has not checked him once. I wiggle my nose and sniff, hoping she’ll take the hint. Nothing. Are you kidding me? After a good half hour I speak up and, through sign language, I tell her she might want to check his diaper. She checks and, what do you know, Poop Central! At this point I wait for her to ask me to take him and change him as she has seemingly done nothing to take care of him the entire flight.

Eventually (and it’s a long eventually) we land in Houston. I go to take a sip of my bottled water which, due to the change in air pressure, promptly explodes in my face (again, don’t try this at home. I am a professional traveler). I never thought I’d be happy to be in Houston (sorry Texas, I’m not a Houston fan). Dad thanks me for my understanding during the flight. Uh, sorry? I believe I was trapped on an airplane and had no choice. I deplane and grab some good old American barbecue. One more flight and it’s home to my presumably dead battery and potentially flooded kitchen.

I board the plane and take my aisle seat (couldn’t snag a window for this one but, after 26 hours of travel I’ll survive 2 hours in an aisle seat). I stow my bags and before long the lady sitting at the window seat is approached by the man whose seat it really is (yup, she tried the whole seat stealing thing like the guy on the last flight). She moves over to the middle seat next to me and places one bag under the seat in front of her and puts her other (very large) bag next to that in front of her feet. This is not a purse, but a full size carry-on. I take note hoping she’ll be moving this. That’s when I notice something strange. This woman is drunk, on drugs, crazy or all three. She is talking loudly to everybody about completely random stuff. She takes out a rubber band and begins to play, what looks like a game with it. She is not simply playing with the rubber band, but seems to be putting a lot of thought into it.

Excess Baggage

Sure this will fit under the seat

As the flight attendant announces that we are ready for take-off, crazy lady makes no effort to move her bag. Being someone who travels for a living, this kind of thing bugs me. For God’s sake people, stop acting like rebellious teenagers and turn off your electronics, put your seat-backs in an upright position, store your tray table and your luggage! I politely ask her to put her bag in the overhead compartment. Her response, “Don’t mess with me!” Crap! Crazy lady, party of one! She continues, “What’s it to you?” “Nothing,” I respond, “but it may be to the man sitting in the window seat should there be an emergency and he can’t get out.” Luckily, the flight attendant passes by, overhears the conversation and insists the lady put her bag in the  overhead. Yeh, Fly Girl has my back. After 26 hours traveling I am in no mood and I turn to the lady and say simply, “Don’t mess with me.”

Two hours later I arrive in Phoenix happy to be there. Even better, I get to my car and, lo and behold, I did shut off that stupid light and my car starts up fine. Yay!!!

After sending out thank you E-mails to all who spent time with me this trip I receive word from the Operations Manager that I was apparently too impressive. The company feels that the job in question may be below my current level. He mentions that the VP of Leisure and Entertainment would like to know if I might be interested in their Moscow location which is due to open next year. My response is a resounding, “Da!” So, I will head on back to my ship soon and wait to discuss Russia. They have vodka there!!! Just saying. . .

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Interviews, Presentations and Tours – Oh My!

11 Nov

Today I wake up ready for a day of more interviews, a presentation and a city tour. Due to various changes in schedules of the people I’m supposed to meet with, the timing for today has changed and my driver is due to pick me up a half-hour later than originally scheduled (I hope it’s Abu!). I get dressed (more daring today in a red top), grab my iPad and head down to the amazing, international breakfast buffet. Eggs, fish, pastries and a bunch of stuff that, although they have cards identifying them, I still have no idea what they are. Being the adrenaline junkie that I am, I go for the mystery foods. I ignore my iPad and pick-up a copy of the Kuwait Times. After a few minutes I look up from the newspaper at the twenty-three other people in the dining room and take note that I am the only woman in  there. It’s clearly a business hotel and, working on cruise ships, I’m accustomed to being the only woman in a meeting. Still, it’s funny how I still notice this. I wonder if men notice these things.

I’m enjoying a relaxing breakfast when the Dining Room Manager approaches me and tells me my car is waiting downstairs for me. What? Uh, perhaps he didn’t get the memo about the time change. And then

Chauffeur

Not Abu

paranoia sets in and I think, perhaps I got the time wrong. Crap. I ask the Manager to let my driver know that I will be downstairs in ten minutes. Acting very calm with a Madonna like ‘they will have to wait for me’ attitude, I high-tail it to my room to collect my bag and thumb drive with my presentation on it. On the way up to my room I am secretly excited (and a little troubled) that the powers that be seem to know where I am even when I’m not in my hotel room. I grab my stuff, touch-up my lipstick and am off

In the lobby I see a familiar face – it’s Abu! He seems to know he’s early. We make pleasant conversation on the twenty-minute ride to the office. He asks me about my mall experience (seriously, the mall is where it all happens) and we say goodbye as I won’t be seeing him again. As I’ve arrived early and my contact isn’t available yet, I walk over to Starbucks – yes, the one on the grounds of the office complex. Ten minutes later I’m back in the waiting room drinking my latte and watching the eclectic mix of people applying for jobs, waiting for meetings or, perhaps waiting for passengers to drive around (Abu would never cheat on me). Before long Cheryl, my contact, steps out the magic door to call me in.

We head over to Sam’s office and run into him on the way. Cheryl hands me off to him and he and I change directions to join Laurent in another meeting room. Laurent is a good-looking Frenchman (I’m honestly not sure I’ve ever met an ugly Frenchman. What is it with that accent?) who is part of the creative team I would be working with. So here in this meeting room in Kuwait sits an Englishman, a Frenchman and an American woman. Suddenly my life seems nearly as glamorous as everybody thinks it is.

Cell Phone ReceptionThis is the meeting in which I am supposed to give the presentation which I had prepared for my Skype  call with Sam a couple of months earlier. As I was still on the ship at the time, and the very expensive internet had typically, gone down, I ended up holding my iPhone up to my porthole in order to use that to tether enough for an internet connection. In the end we had no video but, as I had e-mailed my Power Point presentation, we talked it through. It felt very similar to the 1970’s when you put one hand on the rabbit-ear antennae while standing on one foot and holding up the other hand with a finger pointed to the sky in order to watch a Saturday morning cartoon.

First Sam and Laurent do a presentation for me, which I find incredibly interesting and gets me very excited about the job as it is the perfect combination of business and creativity. Kind of quirky, not unlike myself. Next, I begin my presentation. Within five minutes, I see Cheryl lurking about outside. It turns out that the person who is supposed to do my city tour wasn’t contacted about today’s change in schedule and is, not so patiently, waiting in the lobby. Sam and Laurent let me know that, as they’ve already seen the presentation I had sent, we can conclude this part of the day and I head off to meet my tour guide.

In the lobby of the office complex I meet Karen. I apologize for my tardiness (truly not my fault) and we head off to discover Kuwait City. Karen is from Scotland and is married to the head of one of the divisions of franchises within the company I am interviewing with. Our first stop is an apartment building. If I’m going to live here it’s nice to know what my home life might be like. The newly built apartment is lovely. Very similar to a higher-end apartment in America yet almost all apartments here include housekeeping. Unlike an apartment in Phoenix, this one will run 525 Dinar per month which comes out to about $1800 per month (yup, I’m definitely going to need more money). Karen and I get back into the car and she offers to take me to the grocery store (women understand). The grocery store is impressive. The fresh fish look amazing, the fruits are colorful (although some are unidentifiable) and they seem to have everything Wine that you could possibly need. Everything, that is, unless you need a drink. Yup, alcohol is illegal here (uh, I need a drink). Oh, and pork. There’s also no pork in this country (I’m guessing cooking a meal of pork with wine sauce or beer and bratwurst could get me thrown in jail). Another different part of grocery shopping is that you don’t carry your own bags out. You pull your car up to the entrance and there is someone to load it into your trunk. A girl could get spoiled here.

Next we head to Salmiya, the area of Kuwait where Karen lives and, if I move here, I would want to also. It’s a nice residential area with shopping areas and the ocean close by. I ask if the beaches are public and Karen tells me that they are but, if I were to use a public beach, I must wear clothing that covers my knees and shoulders (hhhmmm, I guess that might save on the sunscreen). We stop at the Beach Club. As the majority of Kuwaiti residents are expats, these are the places where you can find most of them. Here you’ll find a gym (yay, yoga classes!), a spa, tennis, squash, five outdoor pools, one indoor pool, water sports and a beach. Here you can wear a bathing suit that won’t cause you to be sucked down by the weight of ten pounds of clothing. This is a must have if you’re a westerner living in Kuwait and all for the budget price of 650 Dinar, about US $2300 (really, I’m going to need more money). They offer family rates and, if you’re a family or a married couple, you get free access to the club for one nanny! And you can get you second nanny in for only 125 Dinar (seriously, who has two nannies?).

After a lovely lunch where Karen keeps running into people she knows (this feels a lot like New York) we head back to the hotel. I thank Karen for a great afternoon and head up to my room to pack the few belongings I have with me (yet I still manage to forget my toiletry bag) and lay down for a nap. I enjoy a quiet dinner in the hotel dining room ($50 without any wine. Really?), go down to meet my car for my midnight flight.

Next, join me as I Fly By Night . . . and Day on the long journey home and hear the decision. . .

I Shop, Therefore I Am

25 Oct

Avenues MallTraveling for 22 hours after  3 months of work every day without a day (or night off), five hours of Ambien induced sleep and then a day of interviews, you’d think all I want to do is return to my hotel room, have a hot bath, perhaps order up some room service (love that) and crash for the night. Yeh, me too. But really, I’m here for two nights with no guarantees I will be back so sleep will have to wait.

Upon returning to my hotel (my driver, Abu, is back!) I head over to the Concierge desk to inquire about transportation to The Avenues, one of the largest malls in the Middle East. One of the things I like about Kuwait is the ease of getting around. I don’t mean that there’s no traffic, on the contrary, afternoon rush hour here lasts pretty much from 11:00am to 7:00pm. What I’m speaking of is Drivers. Everyone, it seems, has a driver. The country, being so wealthy due to the business of oil, has a ridiculous amount of luxury vehicles on the road. Firefighters driving Porsche’s (not that they shouldn’t, mind you. After all, they save lives), 16 year olds driving Maserati’s, you name it. But many people have drivers as it employs the foreigners and, well, as each Kuwaiti citizen is given money from the government on a regular basis, much of it tends to be spent hiring people to do everyday tasks that most people in the U.S. do for themselves (Donald Trump and Oprah Winfrey excluded). Hotels have drivers to bring guests (and I mean ordinary guests like me, not Donald or Oprah) to a variety of places and, since the national pastime is going to the mall, my hotel will be happy to take me.

As it’s currently 4:00 pm and the car won’t leave for the mall until 6:00, I decide to take advantage of the hotel’s gym (ok, there’s a chance I am running on pure adrenaline but, I figure, why not take advantage of it?). One hour later (okay, maybe 45 minutes, whatever), elliptical trainer and weights done, I shower and change for my trip to the mall.

Fifteen minutes later, after my driver has negotiated around the enormous amount of road construction (seriously, every road in this city seems to be under construction) I enter the mall. My driver has told me that he will pick me up at 8:30. My first thought, I don’t know if I can stay awake that long. When I walk into the mall I’m suddenly energized. It’s as if they are pumping endorphins or caffeine in through the air conditioning system. The mall is beautiful. Open spaces, bright and shiny tile floors, and a wide variety of shops and restaurants. Part of my goal tonight is to go to stores we have at home (more on that in a minute) and price items that I know the cost of at home in order to get an idea of how far my money will go when it’s Kuwaiti Dinars. I head to Bath and Bodyworks and price some Body Butter. I price shoes and clothing. I buy a nice bag of apple tea to relive memories of leading tours in Turkey as well as a box of Turkish Delight (candy) to give to friends when I return.

As I am a huge people watcher, this takes up much of my time. I notice many families walking in the mall. Many of the men are dressed in all white “sheikh” type clothing with a Keffiyeh (traditional headdress) while others are in business suits and still others (many of them teenagers or twenty-somethings) are dressed in shorts or jeans and T-shirts. The women are dressed in outfits ranging from fashionable western ensembles to full Abaya (traditional black cloak) with a Hijab (headscarf) and Niqāb (a veil which covers the face). Many women simply wear western style clothing with a colored headscarf (many have rhinestones on them which, anyone who knows me would know makes me smile as I like sparkly things). The general rule of dress is to keep your shoulders and knees covered (works well for me as I got my mom’s thighs).

Men here seem to truly enjoy being with their children. They play games with them and laugh as they walk throughout the mall. I see one man with what appears to be his wife and four daughters. I comment, “Wow, lots of girls. Good luck!” He laughs and responds, “I love girls!” It seems to me that I won’t find many men sitting on Barco Loungers in the furniture department of Sears while watching the football game.Applebees

I’m starving and walk from restaurant to restaurant trying to find a place with a nice atmosphere that has some traditional Kuwaiti food. This is harder than you might think. I pass a Dean & Deluca, Starbucks, Pinkberry, Applebees, Au Bon StarbucksPain, Benihana, Ruby Tuesday, TGI Friday’s, P.F. Chang, Pizzeria Uno, Nathan’s Hot Dogs, Johnny Rockets (3 of them!) and Chile’s. Hhmmmm, perhaps this is “traditional” Kuwaiti food. I end up choosing a French Restaurant as the waiters at the entrance are charming and assure me they have one traditional Kuwaiti dish. I sit and order the traditional shrimp and rice dish as well as a “cocktail.” This brings me to something very different Auntie Anne'sfrom the U.S. Kuwait is a dry country. No alcohol here. Anyone who knows me understands that I enjoy a nice glass of red wine with dinner or perhaps a 12 year old, single malt Scotch Whiskey after a particularly hard day. This will definitely take some adjusting to. Anyway, not shying away from the subject of prohibition, this restaurant actually has a “Cocktail” Menu. I order a drink with many juices, some soda water and some Blue Curacao (which goes completely against my personal rule of not drinking anything blue out of concern for walking around looking around looking like I’m oxygen deprived).

While waiting for my meal the manager comes over to make friendly conversation. She and her husband came here from the Philippines (there’s a huge Filipino community here) and enjoy most things. She does not enjoy the six day work week (standard in Kuwait) or the strangeness of the Thursday/Friday weekend due to the Friday Muslim Holy Day. She does enjoy the company that she works for which happens to be the company I am interviewing with (no big surprise as they are they seem to own everything in Kuwait). PinkberryWe speak about the benefits of working for the company as well as the discount which employees get for all stores and restaurants that company owns (Ooh, not buying retail? This Jewish girl loves that).

My meal comes and I relax, people watch and eat. Yummm. The waiter asks how I enjoy it and I tell him it’s just as good as promised. He is happy but tells me that if I want real, traditional Kuwaiti food I should go across to Dean & Deluca. What? Are you kidding?Dean & Deluca

Before I know it it’s 8:30 and my driver is transferring me back to my hotel. Aah, bed never felt so good.

Tomorrow read Interviews, Presentations and Tours, oh my.

Kuwait Just a Minute

18 Oct

At this point I should probably take the time to mention the various reactions I received from friends when I told people I was coming to Kuwait. You see, I am a Jewish girl, more by tradition than by religious following. Still, my last name is quite ethnic. I went to high school in an amazing place in Michigan called Oak Park. It’s a suburb of Detroit (while Eminem grew up at 8 Mile, I grew up at 9 Mile. Yup, 1 mile away – we’re very creative with our street names). The student population at Oak Park High was composed of 50% black and 50% white students. The whites were fairly evenly divided between Jews and Chaldeans (Christians from Iraq who were escaping the Iran/Iraq war). Many of my friends on Facebook are people I grew up with. When I mentioned my plans on Facebook one old classmate asked, “Why would you go to Kuwait?” A valid question. My response, “Speaking as a Traveler, because I’ve never been before.” Her response, “Okay, but could you maybe stop in Israel on your way home?” Hhmmmm, do I need to cleanse myself and get the Jew back in me? Another response I received from somebody still living back home was, “Ok, just be careful there.” Nice thought, and I appreciate the well-wishes. My response may have been a bit snarky (uh, it’s me remember) whenIi said, “Thanks, and you be careful there in Detroit.” I think most people believe ‘better the devil you know than the one you don’t.’

That said, on with the day. I wake up this morning not so refreshed. It’s 6:00am you see and I went to sleep at around 2:00am. This is not only unnecessary but incredibly irritating as the car doesn’t pick me up at 11:30. I lay there with my eyes closed refusing to accept that I am awake. After a couple of hours I finally drift back to sleep for a bit longer. When I wake up and go to get dressed, I ponder the outfits I’ve brought. How does one dress for a job interview in Kuwait? I choose the safe bet, a black suit.

I head to the breakfast buffet (my absolute favorite part of staying in an international hotel in a foreign country). I try small bites of some things I recognize and many things i don’t. The humus alone is a reason to move to Kuwait. Yummm. I stop back up to my room to grab a portfolio and drop my iPad and get a call that my driver is waiting downstairs.

I get in the car and introduce myself. My driver’s name is Abu and I can’t help but think of the monkey from Aladdin. Abu is originally from Egypt and, between his bad English and my nonexistent Arabic, we are still able to learn a bit about each other. Abu moved to Kuwait 14 years ago and has a wife and 3 kids. In his spare time he likes to fish and go to the mall (the national pastime). Abu asks if I’m married. I respond no and wait for the next question (it always comes). “Oh,” he says knowingly. “Do you like men?” he asks. What he is really saying, “Don’t you like men.” I assure him that yes, in fact, I do like men very much. I’ve just never found the right one. Or perhaps he hasn’t found me.

I arrive at the office which takes up an entire street. This company is one of the largest in Kuwait and, in fact, all of the Middle East. After checking in with the receptionist I am met by Cheryl, the Human Resources Administrator who brings me back to look around. We talk for a while and watch a presentation on her computer which tells me more about the company. We then go to meet the Operations Manager who I have spoken with by phone and on Skype. On the way, Cheryl asks if I have jet lag. I put on a brave face and say no, that I’ve slept quite well. Her response, “Oh, you look tired.” Two thoughts come to mind. First, of course I am. I haven’t slept in 4 months! Second, thanks, that’s just what I need to build my confidence as I head into a full day of interviews.

We head into a meeting room where I meet with Sam. Sam is a British man who was hired on as Operations Manager for this new venture. Oh, I suppose I should mention that the job I am interviewing for is Artistic Manager for a kid’s theme park. This park already exists in quite a few locations around the world but, as it’s a franchise, this large company in Kuwait will be franchising it there. Sam and I speak about the project for an hour or so but, as we have already spoken a couple of times, this is more third date. If I’m hired, we will be working closely together. After about an hour, I am handed over to Dina, the Human Resources Manager.

Dina explains that she will be asking me questions about how I have handled challenges and situations in the past. She tells me that I should give specific examples. Not a problem as I am confident in my experience and, in my current role, I handle unusual challenges on a daily (sometime hourly) basis. After about 20 minutes Fernando comes in. Fernando is Sam’s boss and I am due to meet with him next. As his schedule has just changed, he asks if he can meet with me now and Dina and I can continue our conversation later.

I head on over to Fernando’s office where he tells me about his history. He is from Portugal but grew up in England (thus the crazy accent). He was also brought over for this project and has been in Kuwait for nearly a year. He then asks about my life and says he is impressed by my CV (good to hear as I’ve worked hard to gain all that experience). We have a nice conversation and I am getting to know more about the project with each person I talk to.

Next, back with Dina (truly the toughest interviewer of them all) to finish up the final three questions (thank goodness there is no lightning round) and I am once again handed over to Cheryl who takes me to Starbucks for coffee and a bite. There seem to be more Starbucks in Kuwait City than in Seattle. This one is on the grounds of the company’s headquarters (this alone could be a reason to work for this company). After a bit, Cheryl calls my driver (different one and definitely not as fun as Abu) and I head back to the hotel.

Tonight, a trip to the mall. Read about it in I Shop, Therefore I Am

Hello, I Must Be Going

15 Oct

Hello friends. As you know, I work on board a cruise ship and, although I am in the Entertainment Department, I don’t find it a very creative place. That, combined with the 70+ hours per week that I work and the slow and expensive internet (don’t get me started) and, well, you can usually tell when I’m on vacation because that’s when I look at the world in a more snarky way and decide to share it with you. So welcome to my vacation (hoping you’re buying the drinks).

For the past three months I pretty much lived every Phoenician’s dream. I fled the burning furnace that is Phoenix in the summer to spend time in Alaska. Most people who work on ships like to go to the Caribbean so they can use their Facebook status as a tool to make their friends at home jealous by sharing photos of themselves on a beautiful beach and bragging about the 85 degree temperature in the middle of February. I enjoy taking photos of snow-capped mountains on rainy days and bragging about the 55 degree weather. To each his own.

Tracy Arm

The adventures were also fabulous. Hiking up a mountain and running into a bear is much more exciting than walking on the beach and running into a lady who wants to braid my hair (Really? I have no desire to have a bead chip my tooth every time I turn my head too quickly). Whales? Yep, hung out with them.

What’s the difference between and Orca and a Bear? about 200 feet.

Glaciers? With all that ice falling you’d think they’d be fine with me collecting just a bit for my margarita (not so much). 

Then more bears, this time three of them crossing the road (assuming they did it for the same reason the chicken did). 

After a summer of adventure and trying to make people happy (vacationers as well as my staff and bosses), I need a bit of a rest. So, after four days of rest, I’m sitting on an airplane headed to Kuwait . . . wait what????!!! Let me explain.

After my last vacation I decided that I wanted to move to England (by the way, if you haven’t read about that adventure you can start at “On a Wing and a Prayer”). So, I began following some UK job websites on Twitter and nosing around the internet. I applied for a few jobs explaining that, while I don’t currently hold a visa to work there, I would have no trouble obtaining one due to my lack of any criminal record (I’m pretty sure that fell off by now). Still, it seems that most companies want me to get that pesky visa before they’ll hire me. I also saw an ad for a House Manager for the Queen. As I had just recently walked up her front walk and spent some time on her lawn I was sure she’d remember me. I completed the application (formality, of course she’ll want me!) and waited for her invitation to tea. Not only did I not receive an invitation to tea, but I received a rejection E-mail. Is it possible she doesn’t remember me? Or perhaps she does.

So, while I was busy working at my job cruising Alaska while looking for a job in England, others seemed have different ideas. I received an E-mail from a company based in Kuwait letting me know of their interest in me and requesting my C/V (that’s a resume for all of you Americans). I forwarded it as, you never know, they may be friends with the Queen. Next thing I know they want to talk to me on the phone. I offer up a choice of times to them as, logistically, this seems like a real challenge. Nine hours’ time difference if we do it while I’m in Seattle, 10 hours if we do it from Alaska, we’re not in port very long and it’s way too expensive calling from the ship. Logistical nightmare. With the call time agreed upon I wait for my phone to ring. Nothing. It turns out I wasn’t the only one confused. They got their time conversion wrong. Try number two resulted in a 90 minute phone call between Ketchikan, Alaska and Kuwait City.

Next thing I know I’m shortlisted and they want me to fly out. As I was in the middle of a contract and the only person on board who does my job, my current employers were not so keen on me taking a few days off to fly to Kuwait to go interview with another company. Go figure. Some people are so inflexible.

This brings me to where I sit now. Seat 23B, fighting over the armrest with the kid next to me who doesn’t understand the unwritten rule that, whoever is in the middle seat gets the armrest. The flights add up to 22 hours going there and 28 hours returning. I will be in Kuwait for exactly 49 hours. During that time I will have 4 interviews (one a cultural interview), do 1 presentation and have a tour of Kuwait City. I have come with a carry-on suitcase (which United Airlines threatened to check. Uh, I don’t think so), a Kindle, an iPad (redundant?) and some Ambien. Coming up next, the flights in I’ve Got Baggage.

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