The big observation tower has photos of the mess the Iraqis made when they invaded in the first Gulf War. A taxi driver (Indian) told me how it took him 8 days to go with his family from Kuwait to India when the war broke out. He saw the soldiers looting and loading everything into cars to drive back to Baghdad. As one fellow traveler put it, No one hates you as much as your neighbors.
I finished my work that following day and the entire group I was with headed to the airport very early, knowing that if it took two hours to put the stamps IN then it may very well take a long time to gather them back again, perhaps to meticulously erase them. Unexpectedly we had no problems, no extra charges for luggage, no delays, no lines. “Too good to be true” I said, eliciting a scowl from a fellow traveler: “Don’t jinx it!” Too late.
We boarded a plane a couple hours later. As we sat on the tarmac, several people jammed into the cockpit while very odd noises like a computerized dog barking, emanated from the wings. Just warming up. Like a car trying to turn over. Oh, the things we tell ourselves in airplanes. We took off and it finally seemed as if Kuwait was just a rotten memory. The plane did a strange lurch about 15 minutes into the flight (just as we were about to leave Kuwaiti airspace I was imagining) and the pilot came on in Arabic. I watched the Arabic speakers around me tense and then throw up their hands and groan with annoyance, but not just that, with genuine looks and postures of fear. The plane had already started to bank for a turnabout to the airport when the voice in English told us they were returning and Sorry for the inconvenience. All I could think is, What a lame thing to hear at the final moment. “You are about to die; I hope that doesn’t spoil your travel plans. Sorry about that.” Ding ding. Please make sure your seatbelt is fastened, your tray table is stowed and your seatback is in the upright position as we prepare for arrival in the afterlife. (Be aware that some of your luggage may have shifted).
A seemingly rushed descent brought us back to where we couldn’t get away from. Seven hours we’d spend trapped in the airport. When we finally arrived in Bahrain, our contact told us how lucky we were not to have had to stay the night at the one-star airport hotel. Lucky?