I’m so glad that we have more freedom than we had the last time. Of course, they took away all the incentive pay to denote that new found freedom. I guess there’s a tradeoff for everything.
We were told there was an amazing grocery store nearby, about 45 minutes outside the gate. So the Shop got together and decided that we’d go out and find this store. One of us had been before and I was sure I had drove past the place once when I came here in March. But just because you drove past a place once before doesn’t mean you know how to get there. In fact, just because you’ve been to the place a few times doesn’t mean you know how to get there, as evidenced by last night’s attempt.
47 uses her GPS to find the place. We could find ourselves on the GPS, as well as the store but for some reason it wouldn’t route. Madge had a strip map and CJ was the driver. I fell asleep so I was no use to anybody. We had been driving for a while when I woke up. It’s amazing to me how much Kuwait reminds me of Arizona. I don’t know why I’m amazed though. Both locations are deserts. There aren’t that many differences in deserts across the world; I’m sure one looks the same as any other.
At any rate, we started taking wrong turns after about 45 minutes of driving. At one point we ended up at the Kuwaiti School of Science and Law. Don’t know how those two subjects go together, but I do know that you shouldn’t put a speed bump at the end of an on-ramp to the highway. They teach you in driving school to accelerate to the rate of speed on the highway, so you can merge without causing a 20 car pile-up. What civil engineer decided a speed bump would be useful on the highway? CJ accelerate to 60MPH only to have Madge scream at him, “Dude, watch out!” There’s a giant speed bump right at the merge point. Who does that? He slammed on the brakes to avoid fucking up the already fucked up vehicle we’re in, but we still have to merge onto the highway.
We took several more wrong turns before 47 realised the supermarket she GPSed was in UAE, an entirely different country. We weren’t following her directions, rather the map Madge had, but still, let this be a reminder to everyone to actually read your directions before you blindly set off into that good sunset.
We did eventually make it to the store. It was totally worth driving around aimlessly in the desert. For whatever reason, although Kuwait is no longer a combat zone, the Army has not decided to upgrade any of its facilities. Other overseas locations have commissaries and housing that supports cooking one’s own food. For now, we’re stuck with whatever slops are served in the chow hall and toilet bowl wine.
I felt like the poor kid who recently came into a windfall. I was in the store with deer-in-the-headlights look like I’ve never been anywhere with electricity before. I’m gaping at refrigerated items, freshly butchered meat, freshly baked bread. It’s like if Macy’s had a grocery store.
We spent about an hour in there, but next time I need to make a list. There’s a lot going on in there and it was hard to remember everything I could want. I specifically wanted fancy coffee creamer but I forgot because I spent 30 minutes at the hot food buffet. There was all this exotic food and I couldn’t make up my mind. Then we spent another 15 minutes just trying to figure out what juice to get. I said I wanted cranberry but they had pure strawberry juice. Never had pure strawberry juice before. Then there was this mixed fruit guava, mango, pineapple juice. I couldn’t make up my mind.
Then they had crepes. Crepes are kinda my weakness. They aren’t sold everywhere so anytime I see one I always get one. I order a nutella strawberry crepe and give the lady my credit card to pay. She comes back and says it’s declined. Uh, I have $7 million in my bank account, can’t be declined. Although I know damn well I have enough money to buy a $6 crepe, I was sure it was more likely my bank was confused about charges coming out of Kuwait. So I gave her my other credit card, the one I don’t use too much. This is also declined. I had to ask 47 to help me out, but her card was also declined. So now we’re just standing there. The lady laughs and says their machine is messed up, that’s why none of the cards are working. Okay, that’s great but I need to pay you. She asks me if I have Kuwaiti money. I said no, and that was a fail. Next time, bring Kuwaiti money just in case. 47 and I are standing there about to get our hands chopped off for theft of goods. She asked them if they take American dollars and the guy looked at her as if she offered to pay him in goats. Seriously, his face was comical. American money is not worth as much here, so I can understand his reticence. Imagine you’re working at Wal-Mart and someone is like, “Hey, do you take pesos?” Uh, no, bitch, we don’t.
Luckily, one guy did not seem to mind the American dollars because he gave us the Kuwaiti money and we gave him $10. Then we turned around and gave the Kuwaiti money to the cashier. All is well that ends well but I was getting a little nervous.
It only took us 20 minutes to get back to the base, which just lets you know how far out of the way we were in attempting to get to the place. At least I have some good snack foods and a few things to get me through lunch the next couple of days.