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.
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.