In order to justify my trip to Kuwait, I had to have a reason for going there other than being a tourist. I was requested to give
a lecture at Kuwait University for their Geology Department. My friend wanted me to lecture on my geophysical work in Saudi Arabia.
I was more than happy to do so because I still had color slides of my work there and some examples of the work I did there. I titled
my talk “Desert Waves”, a tongue in cheek take off of Desert Storm and Desert Shield. The waves part of it referred to the waves
generated by explosions that were sent into the ground to reflect off of rock layers and bounce back to be recorded on magnetic tape. I
spent a day at the University giving the lecture and touring the school. Later I was requested to give a talk at the Kuwait Science Club
on a similar subject about micro seismic recording. When I was working on my abstract at KFAS, they let me use a computer there. I sat
down at it and picked up the mouse to flip the cord to make sure it was not caught in anything. An old habit of mine. I was surprised that
there was no cord and the man helping me started to laugh. It was the first time I had seen a wireless mouse. Later when I returned to the
states, I found they had just become available along with wireless keyboards. At times like that, I found Kuwait to be very modern and that
it had the latest technology.
I went on a tour of the National Museum and a few places around it. Iraqis had looted the museum and the inside had been gutted
by a fire that the Iraqis had set before leaving. Most of the items that were looted have been returned. They took me to the Sabu House
which was near to the National Museum. It was a place where they were teaching young Kuwaiti women the art of weaving the way the Bedouins
(Nomadic Arabs) did it. The Bedouins were an important part of early Kuwait history. They did not want their art of weaving to die out.
There were many fine pieces of various articles there that were on display and for sale. Some of the colors and a few designs reminded me a
little of work done by the Native Americans in our southwest. A few pieces were given to me as a going away gift from my Kuwaiti friends.
I was given a tour of the Kuwait Natural History Museum. It had items on display from the history of Kuwait. There were some original airplanes
that were first used for Kuwait Air at the museum. Lots of stuffed animals and skeletons were on display also. When the Iraqis invaded, they
would not enter the museum because of the skeletons. They were afraid of any ghost that might be in the museum. Usually when I toured a place
like the Natural History Museum, I would have the place to myself. They usually closed it to others until I was done touring it. One night my
driver said he was going to take me to a “kafee” and I did not understand what he meant. When we arrived there, I found he had meant "cafe".
It was a local place that the men went to, to sit around and drink coffee or tea, talk and smoke from a water pipe. The water pipes were
rented out. The tobacco was very moist and had to be kept lit by placing glowing charcoal on top of it. We set there for awhile, drinking tea
and eating a type of lima bean. Afterwards, he took me to a local area that had craft shops. Some of them were making the models of the Boom,
like the ones that were given to me.
At a special awards ceremony given at the Kuwait Towers Restaurant by KFAS, I was invited to tour the oil refinery at Ahmadi, which is south
of Kuwait City. As we drove on the highway to get there, I noticed the underpasses that we went through. They were all decorated with paintings
of scenes from around Kuwait and were very beautiful. Not like the ones in Denver, that had nothing or had graffiti on them. At the refinery,
my shoulder bag was searched and my camera was taken for safekeeping. They had special mirrors to look under our car. Security there was very
tight. No photos were allowed because before the war, Iraqis had visited the refinery and taken photos that they later used to know where to go
in the refinery. Once inside the gate, we transferred to a special car that had a special exhaust system to prevent accidental fires in the refinery.
I had lunch there and talked with some of the engineers about the war. I guess an American plane had fired a missile at the refinery by mistake,
and hit one of the cracking towers. They wanted me to know what had happen during the invasion and why they were concerned about the Kuwait
Anytime I wanted to see my friend at his office; I had to make an appointment to see him. He was very busy and very important. We went to an
awards dinner at the Kuwait Towers one night. KFAS was giving out special awards to people from different countries that had done research on
important scientific work. I knew it was formal, so I went in what is called “Gulf Formal”. Basically it is wearing a tuxedo without the jacket.
I had borrowed the bow tie and cummerbund from a friend before leaving the states. They gave me a tour of the main tower that was very
interesting. The KFAS building was very modern and about seven stories high. It was open in the middle and had a pendulum suspended from
the top floor. It rotated with the earths movement and was used as a clock that was engraved on the main floor.
I spent one day touring the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research. It did more engineering type of work that KFAS did not do. It was an
interesting tour and I spent time with the director talking about the idea of re-circulating wastewater for drinking water. We have a similar
operation here in Arizona. Wastewater is pumped into the ground and pumped back up some distance away from the charging wells. By the time
the water has traveled through the ground; it is pure enough to drink. The place in Arizona is called “Flushing Meadows”. Most of
Kuwait’s drinking water comes from desalination plants that use seawater from the Arabian Gulf.
One of the most important places in Kuwait City is the Martyr House. It was a house where some Kuwaiti resistance fighters had sought refuge. The
Iraqis found out about them and surrounded the house. The fighters would not surrender and the Iraqis shelled the house eventually killing the
fighters. The house has been left as it was after the attack as a memorial to the fighters. Inside are plaques explaining what happen along
with photos of the resistance fighters.
Another night my driver took me to see the gold souk. It has gold jewelry from different countries including Kuwait. They sell it by weight.
You pick a piece you like and they weigh it to tell you the price. The price per gram depends on the country it was made in, the purity of the
gold and the craftsmanship that went into it. Most of the pieces I looked at were out of my price range. I wound up going to a silver shop in
the same area and bought three bracelets for my wife. The designs on them were very similar to designs on silver bracelets I bought in Arizona that
were made by Native Americans.
Before and after I got to Kuwait, my friend was talking about the oil lakes. I did not really understand what he meant until I got there. I
was finally taken on a tour of the lakes. They were actually lakes of oil. When the Iraqis fled the country, they set a lot of oil wells on
fire and opened the valves on pipelines and oil tanks. There was a lot of oil lying around in pools. The Kuwaitis managed to transfer a lot
of it to special holding tanks made of earthen dams rather than polluting the area. At the time I was there, the oil was of low quality and
they were waiting for the price of oil to go back up before trying to find a buyer for the low-grade oil. So I finally found out what were the
oil lakes and their importance to Kuwait. I only saw a few of them. There were lots more.
More on Page Three.