this doesn’t look like portland

I’m sitting in a hotel room 11,000 km from home. I’ve been sitting here for almost 24 hours straight, as there’s not much a woman on her own can do in Saudi. And before that I was sitting in an airplane, airport or taxi for over 30 hours. It’s been a great two days!

Yes, I’m in Saudi again, in Jeddah. Today was the day I was supposed to leave for Portland for the half marathon I’ve been training for, but alas I was needed here so I agreed to come. There will be other half marathons.

The trip was long but uneventful. I had worked myself up into a panic for a few days before I left because I was paranoid I’d be stranded at the airport (actually my imagination went way further than stranded…apprehended and maimed are more accurate). By the time I landed in Jeddah I had calmed down considerably, partly because I had received email notification that someone would in fact be coming to get me, and partly because I was so bloody exhausted that actual emotion wasn’t an option. But then I was held up in customs as they fingerprinted every second or third person going through (myself included), and I once again starting panicking, thinking they would come but get tired of waiting and give up. I finally got through customs, got my bag and walked into the pick up area, scanning for someone holding my name. Never have I been so happy to see “Susan Elizabeth Fox” written down on a card! “That’s me” I called out joyfully. The driver probably thought I was nuts.

I spent the weekend in Jeddah last time I was here, and as I was driven to the hotel last night it was somewhat comforting to see some familiar sights. And the hotel I’m staying in is a heck of a lot nicer than the one I stayed in last time, so being “locked” in here isn’t so bad. I did take a quick trip to the lobby to get cash, but that was it. I just don’t want to draw any attention to myself so I didn’t go outside. Not to mention that it’s 40 degrees and I’m covered in black. That said, it is a bit disappointing to feel so trapped. I know from the bit of reading I’ve done that there are women who travel alone to Saudi and actually get out and do a few things, but they are few and far between. I am far from an adventurous traveller, so when there are web sites out there saying don’t do anything alone, I tend to listen.

I’m feeling pretty tired so I think I’ll stop here. More to come over the next few days.

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