Let’s take those preconceptions and just push them aside for a minute and see this as an exploration of the culture and people of a very Marmite kind of country. FISE Jeddah was one to remember.
This isn’t going to be a political piece, that’s not my place neither my expertise, but I do know people. From my time there, albeit 5 days, I feel that like everyone else on the trip we got to experience an authentic representation of the people who live, work and play in Jeddah.
Words and photos by Mike Drummond
To start from the beginning would make sense and that started at the border where things were still shrouded in assumptions and hearsay. It was the first time I was having to sit in an airport and wait on papers. There is something unnerving about the wait and the uncertainty of it all.
We had our passports taken from us, returned to us, taken again, made to queue at border control ahead of a rather large line of (at the time) calm and collected visitors, who then after 40 minutes turned into a rather disgruntled and impatient posse.
As time went on we slowly made progress, the sight of a gently murmuring baggage carousel and sliding exit doors made the geo-political limbo feel like a distant memory as we truly arrived in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, by invite.
“We all remember our first experience of BMX, whether it be first hand or through a chunky CRT TV back in the day.”
We were all here thanks to the shared passion and enthusiasm for a lifelong hobby (turned job) based entirely on these simple modes of transportation… (way to make our sports sound a lil benign and basic but it’s true.)
To have taken something so simple and cultivate it in so many unique aways shows the power of the human mind and our ingenuity.
Anyway, let’s get back to the nitty gritty.
Scott Connor and I joined forces with a third traveller from the west. Varo Hernandez of Spain, prodigy of flatland pioneer Marti Kuoppa, who ended up taking 9th at FISE Jeddah.
As a trio we found a car, complete with driver, and after some wrong turns, miscommunication and a little heated debate the key cards were delivered to us, the lift buttons were pressed and heads rested on pillows for the first of many nights deciding on what temperature to set the AC to… The struggle is real.