Thai version

Friday, September 28, 2007

" I am in the country less than two hours and I am already in prison"

As I pass out into the lobby there are some people who have signs like BOAC and US Corp. Engineers. However I cannot find any with a J. A. Jones sign. I have no contact points, no phone numbers, not even an address for the company in Jeddah. I take the J. A. Jones letter head that I have and ask if anybody speaks English and ask if they know J.A. Jones Construction Company. When that does not work I start through the long line of taxis lined up outside of the airport hoping that someone will know were the company office is. Finally one of the drivers says he knows were the company is located. So I expect him to take me to their offices. However he loads me and my suitcases into another taxi, and that driver does not speak any English. Then we head off.

When we are all loaded I am expecting to be taken to J. A. Jones office. Then we drive a few short block dodging through rubble scattered on the streets that looks like a war had just happened here. Then we come to a fortress like building. The driver drives to the gate which is opened and we drive inside. The driver stops by a door and out comes two armed guards they motion me out of the taxi with their rifles, all the time talking in Arabic which I cannot understand. Then my suit cases are taken inside with me into a cell in a prison that we just entered, however they close but do not lock the door, and they all leave while I am trying to find out what is happening. I have read of western people put in these prisons and are left for years without anybody being informed. I do not know if this is true or fiction and have no desire to find out. Since the door is not locked I peer out to see if I can escape. However they have a guard posted at the end of the hall which is the only exit from the long hallway.

Here I am in the country less than two hours and I am already in prison and I do not even know what I have done wrong. Then the two guards with guns come back to the cell and speaking the same strange language to me and motion me to follow them. I start to pick up my suitcases but they stop me from taking the suitcases. I follow them into a large room that has a circle of people sitting on the floor around a large platter of rice, meat, and vegetables on it. Then one man wants me to pay the driver that brought me to the prison which is only a few blocks it seemed. Why would I want to pay anybody to take me to prison? Anyway it does not seem like I have any choose. They want the local riyal money which I do not have. After several shouts and screams at me I offer them $10.00. The offer seems to upset them even more. Then they shout and wave even more to me and I offer them $15.00. Which this offer is also rejected. I pull out a $20.00 dollar bill and they grab it and the $10.00 and it seems I have just paid them $30.00 for taking me to prison. Then I am escorted back to the cell were my suitcases are and I am left alone.

Setting in the darkened cell I try to figure what that I had done wrong. After what seem like days before I hear some people coming down the hallway. My cell door is opened and I try to talk to the people which continue to speak Arabic. They motion me out and this time with my suitcases. I follow them to a doorway which opens out onto the courtyard again. This time a different driver and a different taxi are in the courtyard. They load my suitcases and me into a different taxi and the gate opens and we pass out of the prison. The driver goes through some back alleys and finally comes to a better part of the city. It is now about 2:00 in the morning when that the driver comes to the office of J. A. Jones Construction Company. However at that time there is no lights and I am sure the office is not open. Then the office guard comes to the taxi and asks me if I needed to go to the compound? I said “I do not know were I needed to go I just need some place to get to bed.” He tells the guard were to take me and pays the taxi for the trip to the compound. Then I ask him to find out what had happened with the prison. He talks to the driver in Arabic and relays this story to me. The driver that took me to the prison did not know were the J. A. Jones office was. However he knew a guard at the prison which was also a taxi driver that did know were the office was located. The first driver did not want to take me their so he took me to the prison and left me so that when his friend got off of work at the prison he could take me to the J. A. Jones office. Maybe this would have been alright if that I could have known what was happening but not understanding Arabic I had gone through a terrible ordeal.

The taxi speeds off to the new location that the office guard told him to take me. When that we arrive there is nobody their also. However I find an open door to a room and take in my suitcases. I find the bathroom and shower. Then after all that has happened I fall fast asleep, after locking the door.

I was awaken in a few hours and shaved and get cleaned up and put on some different cloths. Then I find an office were a man is working. His back is to me and when that I tap him on his shoulders he jumps and I realize that I have really startled/scared him. “What! Are you doing here?” the man ask. “I would like to know that myself.” I said. “I was taken to prison last night before finding my way here, since nobody meet me at the airport like they was suppose to.” “Have you ate breakfast yet?” The man ask. “No, I have just gotten up and was trying to find out were I was suppose to go.” I answered. He said “Leave your suitcases here and I will take you to the office. Were they can get this all straightened out for you.”

I follow him out of the office and into his jeep. We get in and move out onto the road that just brought me their a few hours before. Then we head back down the road to the office. We arrive at the office and it looks very different in daylight and it is a lot busier place that it was at 2:00 AM in the morning?

When we reach the office I am taken into the manger office and I relay the story to him about what had happen to me after leaving the airport since nobody meet me at the airport when I was trying to find the J. A. Jones complex. He called in an office assistant and ask why that I was not meet at the airport. He explained that very few of the people ever show up even though they were telexed that I would be their and what flight I would be coming in on. Only one out of ten actually show up it seemed a waste of time to try and have somebody meet all the flights when only a few show up. We hoped you could find your way to our offices. However this being my first time I did not know to have all the information before leaving of were to go and a contact when I arrived. It was a harrowing adventure for me.

At this time all the embassies are in Jeddah. Since in the earlier days it was a hard trip through the desert by horse or camel overland to Riyadh since no roads or cars was available then. Also the Saudi’s wanted to keep the infidels that are building their kingdom out of their capital city. Later all the embassies was moved to the capital at Riyadh.

After being taken out for breakfast I return to the office. I complete the needed paperwork and turn over my passport to them for processing. Although it is illegal for them to keep my passport it is a requirement of the Saudi Arabian government, it seems the US government turns a blind eye to that in Saudi Arabia and does not enforce it like they should. It is lunch time by the time all of this has been completed, contract signed, insurance papers signed, and a large stack of other papers signed also. They then take me out to lunch. When that we return from lunch they have gotten me a ticket on the flight to Khamis Mushayt were that I will be working. They confirm that somebody will meet my flight at Khamis. Although they have no telephones to the office in Khamis the government has allowed them to have a radio so that they can call at pre set times. The flight leaves at 4:00 PM for Khamis. I am taken back to the compound to gather up my things and repack what I have taken out of the suitcases. When this is complete I get into the jeep with my driver and am taken back to the airport I left just last night. The driver guides me through the waves of people many sitting on the floor, they look like they have been there for a very long time. We finally get to the check in counter. I provide them my ticket and they check in my bags for the flight. I am provided the boarding pass and the receipt for the bags. The driver shows me were to go and he is not allowed to pass the guard unless he has a boarding pass. So he shakes my hand and leaves as I proceed to the boarding gate for my flight to Khamis.

No comments:

468_60 Ottster Blogger