More than just a Pair of Shoes
A Blogger living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Susie's of Arabia
Susie's of Arabia
“Take a Walk in My Shoes”
I wore them so I would be comfortable. I had lots of walking through airports to do ahead of me and I wanted a pair of shoes that was easy to put on and slip off through security checkpoints or while on the plane. And even if my feet did swell while I was flying - as sometimes happens - this pair of shoes had an adjustable strap in the back. I had bought them at a local mall in Florida while I was out shopping with my friend Linda. They are a very neutral sandy beige color, quite plain, nothing flashy - like me!!! The best thing, of course, besides being one of the most comfortable pair of shoes I have ever owned, was that they were on sale - a bargain at about $30 US. At the time I bought them, I had no idea of where these shoes would take me - halfway around the world to a strange new land, a new life, a new chapter in my life.
I wore them for five days straight this time. First from Seattle to Fort Lauderdale. The next day, from there to Washington DC. The third day on to New York City, and then the day after that on the long flight to Saudi Arabia. Lucky for me, the flight was not full and there was an empty seat between me at the window and the man who was seated on the aisle.
It was a flight of firsts for me. It was my first time hearing a prayer called in Arabic over the intercom right before our flight took off. I was amused by the images on my individual entertainment center - how women's skin was blurred out on the American sit-com I watched. Another first was seeing a large open area in the rear center of the plane with plush red carpet on the floor and curtained off, providing a place for people to pray. A disconcerting experience happened on a trip back to the restroom while wearing only socks on my feet - several rows before I reached the restroom, the floor was soaking wet, as well as inside the restroom. There was water everywhere - splashed carelessly by people who washed themselves before praying. My socks were disgustingly soaking wet when I returned to my seat, and the flight attendant kindly brought me a new pair. By the time we landed, the transformation of the people inside the plane was amazing to me. From a colorful, normal looking group of passengers, they had morphed into men dressed in white sheets and women veiled in black from head to toe. I'm sure my eyes were as wide as saucers the whole flight - I was so excited I couldn't sleep at all on the 12 hour long flight.
The first step I took was, like many travelers, on the airport tarmac where we landed the next day. We boarded a bus to the terminal, where I went through Immigration and Customs without any incident. I collected my two suitcases - all that I had brought with me on my move halfway around the world - and walked around the corner, searching the faces of those waiting for some familiar ones. And there they were! My handsome husband and son. They had arrived a month earlier since my paperwork wasn't ready. Outside the terminal, the heat of that early October day felt like I had stuck my head inside an oven. My feet were in great shape when I arrived after that long trip... but not so for my ears. All those take-offs and landings of the previous several days had taken its toll. And one of the first things we did after my arrival was to go to a clinic because I had tremendous pain in my ears.