The Saudi feeling is starting to sink in; well you can never really get that feeling in you entirely. True to belief it felt like I had been sentenced to a one year rigorous imprisonment in a minimum security prison. The camp was a compound by the Red Sea, a set of box modular structures and I could imagine this to be another Gulag with less security. Have you ever been kicked in the mouth by a rampant horse?
The inner conditions do not get too better as days transition into weeks and weeks transition into months. I could never really come to grips with that life especially in those surroundings. I would actually thrive in these conditions decades later but in 1995 I left myself for dead. A few thing to write about would be the weekend trips to the port city of Jeddah which was trying its best to look like fast food America and the air conditioned malls I had not been in before. Jeddah is also the home to the infamous “Chop Chop Square” where convicted rapists and petty criminals have their heads or hands cut off.
Mecca the holy city for Moslems was not too far from the camp I was in, where the signs to the checkpost proclaiming “For Moslems Only” still stirs an ominous feeling inside me. The tranquility in midst of this temptest was the lucid turquoise waters of the Red Sea and I was even blessed to catch a few views of Flying Fish, which I had only seen in one of my favorite TinTin publication, “The Red Sea Sharks”. After all these years when I stop long enough to delve on my Saudi experience I am convinced it wasn’t Saudi, it was me that kicked myself into this baleful whirlpool of darkness.
And just as I reckoned, it was rock bottom and the only way after this episode was to lift myself and at least see the azure skies of hope.
My journey took me next on a teaser trip to which eventually was going to become my home eventually but that cold dark January evening when I landed at Dulles, Washington DC I wasn’t so sure. Just as I had experienced dealing with cabbies back home, I was sure the guy would cheat my precious $75 out of me.So of course as the taxi starts, the guy in all likelihood is attempting to be friendly and asked me if this was my first trip to the US. And me, in all my devious bent, say “Oh yeah, I have been here several times, in fact I love the east coast and of the west coast cities, Chicago is my favorite city.” Deathly silence and that was the last exchange we had for the rest of the journey. The names he may have called me under his breath, I don’t think I would have been able to repeat. However, being in the promised land sent a shiver of optimism through my veins. It was going to last, I hoped as I-495 beltway outside the taxi looked like a parade of pearls and rubies.
—To be continued…