The first thing I normally do on a Sunday morning with my class, is to ask them how their weekend went (the weekend here was changed a few years ago from Thursday and Friday to Friday and Saturday). Nearly all the class answer that they were at their “farm“. At first this seemed a rather strange answer. Kuwait is mainly desert and apart from the odd palm and landscaped grounds of the Hilton, I could not imagine anything like the green fields, with the grazing sheep and cows which surround my home near Plymouth. So when a colleague asked me whether I would like to visit her friend’s farm I was pleased to accept the invitation.
A group of people were going so we met at my colleague’s house and divided ourselves into the various cars and set off down the main highway which leads to Saudi Arabia. Driving down the expressway it was hard to imagine where any of these farms were, as on each side of the road was desert.
When we turned off the highway a few hours later, we drove along a road lined with old trucks, which turned out to be shops. They were parked with rear doors opened selling all kinds of products.
We followed this road – which was ominously lined with sheep carcasses – and eventually came across the farm. It was a number of single story buildings surrounded by fenced areas.
The “farmer” met us in his dazzlingly white, ankle-length dish dasher, head scarf and Ray Bans and welcomed us to his farm with some mint tea. We were then taken on the guided tour of the animals they kept – sheep, goats, chickens and, of course, camels.
The camels turned out to belong to his neighbour and the farmer suggested we should try riding them. Not being a great horse rider, I really wasn’t interested in mounting one of those animals either, so I was happy when he was unable to find his friend. But he did let us in to the pen to meet the camels and gave us the opportunity to take some great photos up close.
It was fascinating to see how the Kuwaitis have worked the desert to grow basic crops and rear animals, particularly in such a range of temperatures during the year – the desert does get very cold at night during the winter and reaches temperatures well over 50°C in the summer.
Once we had met the camels it was time for a barbeque. One of the many pastimes of Kuwaitis and ex-pats alike are barbeques and camping in the desert.
We did find out you really do need a 4×4 – a saloon car gets caught in the sand and gets stuck-it took a number of men and planks of wood to get us moving again! The maids (a so called “perk” of living in such countries) had been brought along to prepare the barbeque and food, which we sat down to enjoy and then had fun singing old Beatles’ hits around a camp fire, which had been made using the voluminous amounts of litter to be found in the desert.
It really was a rare chance to see how the locals live and enjoy time away from the hectic town life.