Jeddah, Wednesday 6-7-95, 0330 local (Z+3)
Still here, and I'm sitting in the cockpit of a broken airplane on the last gate at the Haj terminal. In front of me I have the tent-like Haj terminal with probably some where between 3 and 10 thousand people sacking out on its bare floor. I'm a lousy estimator and I can't see all of the terminal. The sides are open (to accommodate the religious requirement that the Hajis not dwell inside during their trip) and I can look completely through the north end of the terminal. It's quite a site really.
I've noticed things on this trip that I didn't notice before, probably because I'm more relaxed than when I was here on i.o.e. and more observant. For example, I see that when they load the airplanes, the men and women get on separately. This, of course, due to the Saudi requirement to keep the sexes apart, especially during the Haj (all sex is verboten during the pilgrimage as I understand it). They seem to carry a fair amount of baggage but almost none of them have suitcases. Their belongings seem to be just wrapped up in cloth and tied with twine/ropes. Also, the airplanes are beginning to stink pretty badly. I understand they will all be fumigated after this is over.
Delay...delay...dealy has been the name of the game today. Our 1630 show time got changed to 2230 because of a broken airplane. Tower policy for the crews is "first in, first out", which means that when an airplane breaks everybody gets reshuffled rather than just the crew on that airplane. However, nobody minds all the reshuffling because everybody wants to minimize their time on the ground in Saudi.
They called me to change the show time just as I was about to get up. This left me with the problem of what to do about sleep time. I solved the problem by simply staying in bed and sleeping another 8 hours. Thus I succeeded in skipping both lunch and dinner and also was well rested when we finally arrived at the airport at midnight...and also very hungry. Got into the catering immediately to solve the hunger problem (C.J., I think I am now below 170). And I'm glad I spent all that time in bed. The other 2 crew members decided to stay up, and I'm sure they're now regretting it because it's turning into a bad night (day?). On taxi out, we found we couldn't retract one of the leading edge devices. Interesting since this is the airplane that caused the original delay when another of it's leading edge devices failed to operate correctly. The probability is that while they were fixing up the one, they broke another. So here we set with 473 sweating bodies in back. At least I'm sure that I'm more comfortable than they.
In one sense, the first delay was good - it meant we didn't have to contend with the heat of the day. Right now outside it is a very pleasant (relatively speaking, you understand, since the humidity is high) 28 degrees Celsius (82 F) - I'm only mildly sweating. Temperature in the cockpit is some higher with all the equipment on and the weak air conditioning.
C.J., this letter will run over one printed page. Let me know if I fixed the problem that caused WinCim to leave off the last couple of lines on each page. The previous messages since I made that change have all been less than one page.
During my morning run, I got a closer look at the scupltures around town. These are the art pieces a past mayor of Jeddah required that Western companies commission as part of allowing them to do business in Jeddah. Some are quite innovative. Today I noticed one that was suitcases embedded in a concret e strucutre, obviously denoting the great amount of travel into and out of Jeddah. Another was a tower, maybe 30 feet high, of metal stripping with all sorts of clocks imbbeded in it..everything from the very small to large, grandfather clock faces.
It was a good run. About 1/4 mile short of returning to the villa I began to overheat, getting the tingling feeling and chills that I remember so well from running in Ras Tanura, so I really had exhausted my running potential of the moment.
I found out that how clean the Haj ends is dependent upon which national group you're talking about. The Hajis from most countries want to return to their homes rather than stay in Saudi. However, those from at least 2 countries would rather not go home. First, the Nigerians have to be rounded up - they don't want to go home. And, to a lesser degree, the Indians also tend to not want to return. From what I hear of Nigeria, I wouldn't want to go back either, but India? I don't know. Personally I would opt for India rather than Saudi.
Hmmm, 2 Garuda flight attendants just came in to ask if they could borrow the crash axe to use to open a medical kit. Somebody's having problems. The purser was up before we pushed back to tell us that somebody had already shit on the floor. Sound strange? Remember, these people may have never seen a western style toilet before. Fortunately the air coming into the cockpit comes in from the outside. The farther back in the airplane you are, the more "used" the air is.
Bye for now...Terry