On one of our last days in Kuwait, we went out to a (or the) main market place. It’s basically a web of pedestrian-only streets lined with open shops and booths selling almost any and every type of thing people might ordinarily want to buy (and a few things that people might NOT want to ordinarily buy…). It was definitely a highlight of my time in Kuwait, and the reason has absolutely nothing to do with what’s for sale.
Just one more note about privilege — my sister-in-law accompanied me past security in the Kuwaiti airport in June, on my way to Jordan. It was an interesting circumstance, because technically she wasn’t supposed to do go through security with me. But she did. Several times.
There were two times during my trip through the middle east when I actually felt unsafe. Being on or around a road in Kuwait was one of them. Don’t drive or ride passenger in a car in Kuwait. It’s tantamount to attempted suicide. Apparently Kuwait has one of the highest motor vehicle mortality rates in the world.
Let me try to give a better impression of how hot it was in the Middle East. Read the rest of this entry »
The US invasion of Iraq destroyed an entire swath of fragile Iraqi desert ecosystem. Apparently driving multi-ton armored vehicles and dropping bombs, missiles, other explosives and depleted uranium all over the desert completely kills the desert soil structure, turning the entire system into a (more) desolate dust bowl which blows away. At least in the summer, there are strong winds from the north west which sweep across Iraq and into Kuwait to the south east, bringing literally countless tons of the Iraqi desert with them. So locals wear respirators and landowners talk up the soil fertility benefits of the orange dust. Too bad most of it goes out to sea, or into our eyes, ears, and lungs.
The category “journal and notes — Middle East” contains journal entries and notes from my middle east trip from June through July 2008, in chronological order. The first entry, below, is a brief history and overview of the original purpose of the trip, including why the hell I was in the region in the first place. Names may or may not have been changed to protect the innocent, the guilty, and when all else fails, the naive (mostly me…).