Once we arrived at the airport, I got the sense that Kuwait is a more rough-and-tumble Gulf state. Not everything here is crisp and clean and gleaming, and the passport control dudes were certainly more jovial than I've seen since probably Lebanon or Syria. The most potent moment of "we're not in Kansas anymore" realization came when Jeremy and I approached an escalator leading down to the exit. It wasn't moving, and a red light was lit up near it, but those kinds of escalators are in Dubai, too. You walk close enough to them and they engage and start moving. I'm sure to everyone in the know I looked like an idiot, walking toward that escalator and looking confused when it didn't turn on, and then trying to somehow engage the sensor to make it move, and then walking away sheepishly when it didn't work. That kind of stuff happens on a subtle scale so often when you're traveling in different countries in this region, or even in different emirates. It's the same, and yet it's...different.
As for my expectations about Kuwait, so far, from what little I've seen of the city, I'm right. I guessed that Kuwait would be a little bit Gulf, a little bit Syria - in other words, what I imagine Iraq looks like. And I think that's holding true...maybe? Of course it's human nature to compare new places to what you already know, so it may be an imperfect assessment but it's correct to me.
Speaking of Iraq, the part of me that is still nine years old and in third grade can't believe I'm actually in Kuwait. The Persian Gulf War is the first Big Thing that I remember really paying attention to for a long period of time in my childhood. I clipped newspaper articles about it and always paid attention to discussions about it in school. And now here I am, in Kuwait.
I said on Facebook that it is so exotic that we're belatedly celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary in Kuwait, but I'm not sure I was joking. This place IS exotic to me. And I couldn't be happier to spend the weekend here.