February 28th, 1989
Night flight from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (JED) to London Heathrow (LHR)
Went to the beach club again today because, as females, our options outside the confines of the hotel are extremely limited. Whenever we leave the hotel we have to be covered and the hotel provides us with an Abaya, but the one that was left in my room was too short and I had to get a longer one.
I guess, depending on what part of the world you’re in, the covering might also be called a burka, burqua or even a chador. The irony of going to the beach club dressed in an Abaya was not lost on me. Needless to say, once we’re there we can take it off.
Just like yesterday, it was sweltering again but I didn’t swim. I sat under an umbrella with Meryl and when she dozed off I thought about how nice it would be to at least try and cool down in the water, although yesterday when I went sailing, the water temperature felt far from refreshing.
I got to thinking about my weight and how I always want to be thinner then somehow forget about it the minute I see food! It really does feel like a vicious cycle and it feels like time to stop and actually do something about it. My weight has stayed at just under nine stone for the longest time, but I’d love to weigh much less.
A few of the more senior crew asked Meryl and I if we’d like to go to the souk (market) with them. Alan said if we decided to go, we’d have to cover our faces. Just before the shuttle bus dropped us off, Marilyn (economy purser) helped Meryl and I cover our faces and I really didn’t like how it felt. Most of the women here have their entire face covered with either a mesh piece of material built into the Abaya or a metal faceplate separate to the covering. According to Marilyn, even with our faces covered, the locals know we’re Westerners by the way we walk.
The souk was filled with incredible smells and all kinds of food items for sale as well as jewelry and rugs. Meryl whispered to me that she hated the atmosphere and begged me not to leave her side. Meandering through the male dominated market was quite an experience to say the least.
As soon as we got back on the shuttle bus Meryl said she was relieved to be going back to the hotel and had no desire ever to return to the souk! When she uncovered her face she looked quite pale so I asked if she was ok. She said she felt a bit sick, but I think she was just reacting to everything we had just seen.
Managed to have some quiet time in my lovely, air conditioned room and watched ‘The Mosquito Coast.’ I may have drooled slightly (understatement) over River Phoenix.
Call time comes an hour before pick up and I wonder how long it will take before I get used to not saying “hello,” when I pick up the automated call. Pick up is when our crew gathers in the lobby before boarding the crew bus that takes us to the airport.
It’s interesting that once in uniform we’re not required to be covered whilst going to and from the airport. There was a delay to our boarding because of some issue with paperwork but we still managed to take off on time. Meryl and I sat on the flight deck for take off and this time we knew the drill and needed no instruction. We’re invited back to the flight deck when we land at LHR, which will be in about three hours from now.
We only have forty-eight passengers on this flight and I’m working in economy tonight. Even managing to get some crew rest and already had a little snooze before I started writing this. The crew rest area on the TriStar is a row of seats at the rear of the aircraft, with a curtain you can pull around the seats for privacy. But, even with the curtain pulled, passengers still manage to find us and ask for things!