INCIDENTS OF My TRAVELS to
NEVER SEEKING ADVENTURE YET ADVENTURE FINDS ME
Kingdom of Bahrain, Arab Spring 2011
“You…You…” The man searched for the word from Arabic to English in his head, “…America”. The word more of an accusation than a question from suspicious eyes. I was startled in place. Why the question?
The encounter surreal. as I was rushing out of my suite from a Bahrain resort located near the fringes of the island, an area still under construction so any interaction is seldom and brief. I was in a hurry to beat the traffic to Manama City for the night’s dinner, some cocktails, maybe a bout of Cricket on the telly at an undisclosed restaurant sports bar. The discovery of which only comes from exploration of the area. The only reason I was even here was to wash the weathered sweat and salt from a long day’s work in the hull of a ship. The 100-degrees of the day augmented by the sun beaten ship’s hull and its confined quarters. Refreshed and change of clothes, I rush out to the man’s path.
The Arab was unkempt, the sight pitiful. Tousled hair caked with clumps of dandruff and with straggly beard festooned with foodstuff trapped in their curls and dried spit. A stained t-shirt and acrid body odor betrays any consideration of hygiene long abandoned. And though with an armful of bottled water, his dried and cracked lips evince dehydration, his queries looked painful. He blocks the stairs I intended to use. His shock clearly displayed that he did not expect this encounter either.
I notice the opened door beside us to the his suite around the corner from mine. Shadows mill around in the dark. I see their silhouettes against a cooking fire in the middle of the great room the only source of light for the drapes are drawn in the darkened apartment. As the questioning is repeated louder, ambulation stops and figures approach the portal. Curious.
Their presence here incongruous. Obviously longer than mine. The reason I was isolated here, instead of a city hotel by our client, is to prevent such interactions. With tensions between east and west it seemed a good plan. Apparently they had the same idea. A month here and a few more days to go before leaving attests the futility of the plan.
Before this trip, I have been warned. Attempts to deter this field job decision came from my immediate manager. “You can always back out, no reflection on you or your work.” Clandestine calls received by government representatives, all advising to reconsider the trip. However, the boss and owner of the company, Bill, was adamant on his intent and I agreed to accompany him. He now was gone a few weeks and I was alone now realizing the cause for the concern.
My mind races in that moment, have I discovered a zealous and xenophobic cell in hiding? Worse, they discovered me.
I have seen the movies, in the book “Den of Lions” correspondent Terry Anderson’s unfortunate encounter in the 1980s lasted in sequestration for seven years. Others not as fortunate as videos appear of their demise at the hacks of dull machetes. We were assured safety at the beginning of this venture of course. A security detail at the ready to extract us to the safety of Dubai at the moment’s press of a pager phone. A phone I have now kept in my suite for lack of imminent danger these past four weeks here already.
Frozen in place on this terrace alone, with all of these thoughts racing through my head…my fate depends on my response to probing questions.
An answer is expected...
About the Author
I have always ended up in unexpected places. So I present a collection of my tales told over the years. Places that due to circumstances I might never go on my own accord.