It was early in the morning when I got on the plane in Budapest. Excited, but already tired, knowing that I have a twelve hour of journey ahead of me. I was traveling alone(like usual), which generally does not make me feel worried or anxious. However this time it was a completly different story.
I am an Eastern-European blonde and blue eyed women looking forward to be reunited with her American husband in the Kindom of Saudi Arabia, where he worked instructing new Saudi firefighters.
I had to change planes at Frankfurt airport, where the culture difference became crystal clear. It was amazing how different the crowd getting on the plane was from my last flight. This was my first time seeing a man in a thobe, the traditional Saudi attire, and women wearing the abaja, covering their whole body and head in black fabric, though not all were dressed like this.
During boarding I found my assigned seat occupied by a Saudi man. No problem I thought, it is alright and happens fairly often. I will just ask him to move.
… Oh if I had only known…
The man immediately called a hard-working Philippino stewardess to his rescue, explaining to her that he wanted that seat and refuses to sit next to me so they will have to find me another seat. I felt a bit embarrassed, but was ready to find myself a new seat and avoid this rude man. Here I came across some more difficulties and learned a bit about their culture, as more and more Saudis refused to sit next to me, regardless of their gender or age. At the end, as the outcast of the plane, i found peace next to an old Indian man who was more than delighted to have me as his traveling companion for the hours to come.
After listening to the “Prayer of the Travelers” from the Holy Koran, which played on the monitors, the plane took off and I was finally on my way to the amazing Kingdom of sand, camels and terrible coffee…which all deserve their own story.