Jeddah, Saudi Arabia:

Jeddah radiates heat. It’s 30 degrees Centigrade on deck at 10:00 hours. There is a breeze, thank God.

If Port Sa’id looked like Tijuana, Jeddah looks like Los Angeles. Here there are no gaily painted derelict boat tooting horns and darting among the great ships, no grubby kids waiving from their decks. Even the tug boats look somber, serious about their work. Is it simply a matter of wealth or is there a difference in national temperament between these two Arab nations?

From the Nav Deck of the CS Ural, Jeddah sprawls in every direction with paved streets, concrete towers, elevated highways, and automotive traffic. There are no pedestrians or bicyclists in sight; no kids kicking a ball around. There are tall buildings, glass towers and executive offices as far as I can see into the haze. Or is it smog? Jeddah looks wealthy and powerful. It projects military and economic might, but so did Berlin in 1936.

I’ve already been warned by the Captain that, if allowed ashore, I may not wear shorts. No raggedy Irishmen with fishy-white knees are welcome. I’ll wear long trousers and sunglasses, pull my cap down over my eyes; pretend I’m Sean Connery on holiday. Or Brendan Gleason.

All of this is moot. The Captain just told me we’re putting out to sea again soon. The great cranes are stowing our last containers. So much for sweltering in my jeans.

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jasper

Copyright Jack Kelleher © 2014.