Well we’re now in the real heat of the summer, hot and humid, very hot, very very humid in Kuwait. It is surprisingly warm, the humidity that I remember from summers in the midwest plus the hot temperature from my recent July in Las Vegas. Fortunately, air conditioning is wonderful everywhere, but it is really hot and the 5 minute walk from the school at the end of the day today was torturous.

Today was our first real experience with Ramadan. The month of Ramadan started yesterday, Brad and I worked in our apartment all day and then headed out with a bunch of school folk at sunset to “break the fast” at the Hard Rock Cafe. It was like little America there, all western patrons and a totally American menu (just no ham, bacon, alcoholic drinks etc., I’m still curious what the Long Island Iced Tea tasted like without any alcohol). The Hard Rock has a Ramadan special of everything half price at the end of the day, which makes it an acceptable price instead of completely ridiculous. But today . . . we went to work at school on a Ramadan schedule and had many staff members fasting. That means they didn’t eat anything after 5am, no water, no smoking, no tylenol, no nothing. For those of us that are not fasting, we are just expected (well, there is a law too) to also not drink, eat or smoke in public and also not around those that are fasting.

My view of Ramadan from the US was very different from what we’ve experienced in Kuwait. I just remember hearing the term “the holy month of Ramadan” on the news usually associated with why something  was delayed in the middle east. The reality is that the day is really hot (just amazing that people are making it through without drinking anything), the streets are a little emptier during the day than they were last week,  and the city comes to life at about 6:15p after the evening call to prayer at sundown and doesn’t settle down for a long time. The first week is family time week, a lot of people get together with their extended families for big dinners at the end of the day, in the middle of Ramadan is a fun kids’ tradition, and near the end is supposedly the most pious time. The biggest change is that the restaurants aren’t open for lunch and that during our staff meetings, people cough and then don’t drink any water, either because they are fasting or are respecting those who are. It becomes a lot of coughing. On Tuesday, Brad and I are going to a big, fancy Iftar (break the fast) dinner. After that I’ll be able to tell you a little more about the real experience of the Holy month of Ramadan. Thanks for reading!

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