Thursday, February 16, 2012

Visiting Surgeon in the Middle East: Part 8

We checked in, got our seat assignments, and uneventfully went through customs and security. Still insecure about current events, I kept a careful watch over each person and made sure that, even with my back to the terminal, I could watch everyone via a reflection in the large windows over the tarmac. I was not going to be a headline in tomorrow’s Al Jazeera.

Despite my consternation, our shopping in the terminal and boarding on the plane to Kuwait City was uneventful. The flight was pleasant, as they served my new favorite coffee with cardamom.

Kuwait, used to having Americans, has a fairly easy visa process for us in the airport. To pay the 3 dinar fee for the visa, I had to go to an ATM since they didn’t accept credit. At the ATM, I asked for 100 dinars, never thinking that our American Greenback was less valuable than the Kuwaiti currency. I gave the money to Wissam to pay for the visa, wondering why he asked me why I got so much cash for our short stay. I figured the value would be like $30, not the $350 that the bank charged me. How could the dollar be that meaningless against the Kuwaiti currency? Wissam, showing a tremendous amount of restraint despite his ignorant new friend, never said a thing, though I know he caught on to my mistake.

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