Saddamapalooza: Day One


When you arrive in Hawaii, a beautiful Hawaiian girl places a lei around your neck and says “Aloha.”

When you arrive in Kuwait, a security man with a gun under his shirt places you in a shuttle and says, “You are now all high value targets.”

Said to a roomful of normal people, the line inspires fear.

Said to a shuttle-full of cartoonists, the line inspired pride.

We had never been “high value” anything.

If there was any doubt that we were not in Kansas anymore, that was resolved by the high blast walls surrounding our hotel.  Most hotels I stay in are surrounded by Applebees and Barnes & Noble.

Then there’s the military ship guarding the coastal access to the hotel’s beach. And it’s not pulling any parasailers.

The entire picture is enough to make you understand why there is no “Rick Steves’ Kuwait.”

But the devastating blow was yet to come.

No porn.

That’s right.  Kuwaiti hotel rooms have no porn.  The closest any channel came was a Kuwaiti soap opera where a fully-clothed man and woman sat ten feet apart in the woman’s living room.  When the woman’s husband walked in the front door, there was dramatic music followed by a lot of close-ups:  of the woman, of her husband, of the other man.  This was the Arabic equivalent of “Girls Gone Wild.”

If that’s not enough for you, consider this:

They have no beer.


No alcohol anywhere.

I don’t know what Muslims call this abstention from sex and alcohol, but I know what we call it.

A really bad party.

The whole thing is enough to make you rethink the first Gulf War.

If that’s not enough, the Kuwaitis place a four-inch-high wooden beam on the ground between your room and the bathroom.  Not sure what the design rationale there is, but I will say this — When you really have to go the bathroom in the middle of the Kuwaiti night, there is no greater joy than breaking two of your toes and doing a header into a marble wall.

Now I’m awake and hurt and angry and I have no beer and Arab people are yelling at each other on my television.

Somehow I find myself already yearning for our next travel stop:  Iraq.

You know it’s a bad vacation when you find yourself looking forward to a war zone.

Hope they have beer.

38 thoughts on “Saddamapalooza: Day One

  1. Hey, you’re the one who wanted the glamorous, exciting life of a cartoonist. You could have a stayed a lawyer, but no. Welcome to celebrity, baby.

  2. Why were you and Jeff in the Middle East? I feel like I missed something here.

    P.S.- I know army boys who were in Kuwait; there IS alcohol there, and the troops generally know where to find it. However, if they like you enough to share, that’s another story!

  3. You may have noticed a kitchen sink type sprayer near the toilet. That’s for washing your behind after you go.

    People usually make a mess using it, and the beam is to keep the spray water from leaking into your room.

    So now you’re walking around in a puddle of poopy water. Yay technology!

    The public bathrooms at the Seef mall had a full time guy squeegeeing the water off the floor. Poor guy probably only got about $.75/hr.

    Was there a giant dhow restaurant @ your hotel?

  4. What’s missing from the picture of on the wall? Something was rubbed out at the waistline…

  5. yeah u ignorant prick, of cos there’s alcohol!

    Now.. aren’t Saddamama look heroic standing next to u!

  6. hahahahahahaaha! you poor cartoonists! Well, I just hope that this means the next cartoons will be most interesting . . . . hahahahaha!

  7. To answer Ted:

    I guess without porn, they weren’t sure what they were supposed to rub out.

  8. Hey Stephan,

    I’m a Muslim and you’re lucky I love Pearls and have yet to take offense- but somehow I don’t think you’re done writing about this trip yet :p

    Look- you’re lucky u at least don’t have to stoop and pee/crap in a whole in the ground like they do in some parts of the Middle East.

    And you know what they say- when in Rome. Muslims have (or are supposed to have) a zero tolerance policy of drinking of alcohol, gambling and premarital sex.

  9. have to agree with the first commenter, great post! i laughed reading this and i laughed reading the strip this morning. keep it up!!

  10. Dude, you’re buff! Why the heck were you ever a lawyer? Or did you not look like that years ago? Sorry, back to the blog. It’s sounds like a page outta National Lampoon’s Middle East Vacation. Can’t wait to hear more.

  11. Was this Staci’s punishment for your rant about the B&B? She just ships your ass to Iraq for a few weeks? If so, I would NOT want to fuck with her.

  12. Roger – I can picture Pig with the sniffles and the Govt coming down on him like in E.T. and it turns out to be allergies . . .

  13. From that picture, it looks like Stephan was there to finish off the insurgency. Now if only we could have guard duck posing with an RPG launcher too. *Sigh*

  14. Wow! You are a good-looking guy, Stephan. When Staci gets tired of your antics, give me a call. *winks*

  15. Hey Stephan! Nice guns!

    Looks like you’ve been working out and doing it for sometime now.

    A cartoonist who is not a fluffy guy! Nice!!!

  16. Um, picture of you with Saddam was not taken in Kuwait. Also, before 1990 and 1991-2002, there was darn tootin’ a Rick Steves’ Kuwait.

  17. And you were there for how long? Coasties get to spend 6-7 months in Kwait. Did you get to meet any?

  18. First thanks for visiting the troops. As I sit here drinking my icy cold Bud, I enjoyed your comments. Hang in there .

  19. Dear Stephan,
    You seem not being familiar with arab countries…
    Don’t you think that when you discover a new Country, it is good to see something else, learn about the culture, mentality, history…
    In arabic countries, people do not need alcohol to have fun! So I suggest you a tea… 🙂

  20. I like to visit places like Austin, Tx; Dallas, Tx; Houston, Tx; and occasionally, Long Beach, California. Estes park Colorado’s pretty dang awesome, too. Under no circumstances should you go farther than Jamaica… you brought this on yourself, Stephan.

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