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Volume 28, Number 6November/December 1977

In This Issue

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Diary of a Long Distance Driver

Sept. 13

Left Rotterdam at 10:00 hrs. Crossed Dutch-German border at Bergh-Elten. Arrived Steigerwald at 21:00 hrs. Stopped for night.

Sept. 14

Drove via Munich to German-Austrian border at Schwarzbach-Walserberg. Four-hour delay at customs. In Graz, had breakdown so stayed overnight.

Sept. 15

Discovered in morning that large diesel tank was blocked. Continued driving on small tank to Austrian-Yugoslav border at Spielfeld-Sentilj. Arrived border at 08:00 hrs. and joined queue of 60 trucks. Finally crossed border at 17:00 hrs. Drove through Maribor and Zagreb to Novska. Stopped for night.

Sept. 16

After unsuccessful four-hour attempt to repair main tank, decided to make rest of journey on small tank only Arrived Pojate at 21:00 hrs. Roads very bad.

Sept. 17

Drove to Yugoslav-Bulgarian border via Nis and Pirot. Crossed border at Dimitrovgrad-Kalotina without difficulties. Drove via Sofia to Haskova, about 19 miles from Bulgarian-Turkish border.

Sept. 18

Arrived border at 07:00 hrs. and joined long queue of trucks. Reached Turkish Kapikule customs at 18:00 hrs. All settled by 20:00 hrs. Drove to parking spot and stopped for night. Today had trouble with truck's brakes.

Sept. 19

Drove to Istanbul via Edirne. Crossed Bosporus Bridge and headed for Ankara. Highway ended about 18 miles past Istanbul. Then began long row of mountain passes. Driving in dark was highly dangerous... If we had not been careful we would have been forced off the road. Stayed overnight in mountain village about from Ankara.

Sept. 20

From Ankara, drove in direction of Adana. Driving through Taurus mountains very difficult. After Tarsus, climate suddenly changed. We were now in the warm Mediterranean zone. At night, as I lay in the truck, someone tried to force the side window. As I sprang out of bed, he ran away.

Sept. 21

Drove via Adana, Iskenderun and Antakaya to the Syrian border post of Bab-el-Hawa, where we received a manifest which allowed us to drive to Saudi Arabia. Stayed overnight at small village about 40 miles past border.

Sept. 22

Discovered in morning that truck had flat front tire. Changed it and drove to Damascus via Horns. Roads varied... Stayed overnight at Syrian-Jordanian border.

Sept. 23

…Customs inspector started work late… on the 70 waiting vehicles. After three hours running to and fro we were able to clear customs and drive to Jordanian Boarder Post Ramtha. There, a Jordanian manifest had to be attached to Syrian manifest for transit through Jordan.

A small army of men and boys practically tore the papers out of our hands to have them dealt with. They were ready rather quickly.

It was possible to drive through Jordan only twice daily, at 10:00 hrs. and 15:00 hrs. in convoy with military escort. The passports of all the drivers were carried by an officer of the escort....

We arrived at the Jordanian border post E4 at 22:00 hrs. There were two diesel pumps, but both were empty, so I had to transfer (fuel) from my large tank to my small tank with pipe and bucket. Today had been hot, but at night we had to crawl into double sleeping bags because of the cold wind. We were now on the edge of the desert.

Sept. 24

The Jordanian customs inspectors began work at 08:00 hrs. and by 10:30 hrs. the 15 trucks were ready to leave. There was now no more road. After a five-hour drive through the desert sand, we arrived at the Saudi Arabian border post Turaif, where duty had to be paid on the load. This would be done next day.

Sept. 25

Customs clearance was finished very quickly and we began the long, monotonous journey along Tapline to Dammam. The road, which ran through the desert beside the pipeline, was 960 miles long and good to drive on. By 18:00 hrs. it was pitch dark and it was impossible to drive further....

Sept. 26

Today we were able to drive a long way. Nothing special to report except that in the morning we had to chase about 20 donkeys out from under the trailer before we could start.

Sept. 27

This morning we had to stop for about two hours because of a sand storm. We finally arrived at our destination, Abqaiq, about midday. An engineer agreed to get into a fork lift and unload our truck. By this time it was so hot we were dizzy. Showered and got ready to start return trip next day.

—Geertvan der Struik, Hermann Ludwig (Nederland) BV.

This article appeared on pages 24-26 of the November/December 1977 print edition of Saudi Aramco World.


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