Friday, January 31, 2003

Today, the US embassy in Kuwait released a warden's message advising that all non-essential US citizens should leave the country. It is not an evacuation (yet) and it doesn't apply to us (yet). It's an admission that there may be an evacuation, and that an evacuation will be easier with fewer people and without babies and other needy passengers. If such an evacuation were to take place, the embassy says it will take place over a week or two and be done by commercial airlines (KLM, Lufthansa, British Airways, etc). The Canadian embassy in Kuwait, which also issued a warden's message today, is not advising anyone that they leave Kuwait.

This weekend we got a package together with all our important documents and changed some money into US dollars. We have decided not to travel this holiday. Karla has had a sore throat for a few weeks and doesn't feel like moving around too much. We are also saving a bit of money in case we end up taking an extended break. The ministry of education here has said that if there is a military action, schools will be closed for 15 days. And after that a decision will be made to reopen the schools or to close them down until September. (Note to relatives: Who has space for a couple of couch surfers until late August? Does anyone know about any under the table jobs for a couple of non-residents?) (Note to the taxman: Ignore that last sentence.)

These are interesting times (to say the least). We are talking with the school and each other daily to decide what we will do. For the moment, we are going to continue working (which our contract says we have to). If there is an evacuation notice, we will turn our noses up at the rumoured double salary for those who stay and come home. If we leave, it is with the understanding that if the school's population shrinks due to Kuwaiti families leaving the country for the duration of the fighting or longer, we may not be called back until September. We would hope that the evacuation would be brief (How long can Iraq remain a threat?) and that the impact on Kuwait of any combat would be minimal (No surprises falling from the sky). That way our students' families would be more likely to come back and re-start our jobs.

So, to sum up, it's a time to be vigilant (ear to the ground, stick on the ice), but not to be fearful or worried. We are prepared; we are connected; we stay informed. As Jasper says on the Dead Dog Cafe: Stay calm. Be brave. Wait for the signs.