My friend’s parents came for a visit a few weeks ago and he took them traveling all around the southern part of the province. As I have written several times in the past, traveling in this province always leads to some sort of adventure or other. I have to admit my friend’s mom went through more than most and she kindly offered to write up the story and let me post it.
Recently I had the opportunity to travel through one of this province’s smaller airports. It is my hope that the treatment I received leaned heavily on events (a small squermish in a nearby town) that transpired shortly before my visit there, rather than my threatening appearance (I am under 5 feet tall). We were greeted by security at the entrance of the airport parking lot with the question "Where are you from?"
After answering that to their satisfaction, we were allowed to pass through, park and enter the airport. We secured our boarding passes and entered the security check line (line is used loosely in this country-it usually involves people pushing, shoving, stepping in front of you, at any point in the line). I placed my backpack, watch, shoes, etc. on the conveyor belt and proceeded to the "pat-down" area. I stepped onto the platform where I was groped, not once, not twice, but three times. My companions passed the pat-down and "wand" test and were on their way to the end of the line. At this point, I failed the wand test because something in the waistband of my jeans was causing the wand to beep. Through gestures (none of the airport employees spoke English), they wanted to know what was in the waistband. I gesture "don't know" and am instructed to follow the employee.
I enter a room where the wand procedure is applied over and over with the same question and answer. Then I am instructed to remove my pants. Now I am wondering how long it will be before this goes viral. There are two female employees in the room and the question now is "Where you from?" I answer "United States", she shrugs. I say "America", and she shrugs again, as if to say she doesn't understand my answer. I desperately want to be released, with my pants, so I gesture a cutting motion on the waistband. They shake their heads. When they see me actively looking for a pair of scissors in the room, more discussion, and I get my pants back. Back to security where I am re-groped.
My two companions are still at the end of the line having a discussion about the flammability of their liquids. They also want to know where I've been. I probably shouldn't have answered that question until we landed because that only exacerbated the frustration. Their liquids are determined to be flammable, and confiscated. We discussed amongst ourselves that our clothes were also flammable, but we were permitted to keep them! We were then released to walk to the runway where another "line" is formed for another security check to get on the plane. We finally board, are trying to de-stress, when a flight attendant appears before us, holding some of our bag of liquids, and asks "Are these yours?" I was relieved to get some of our belongings returned to us and counted that as a win. I really wanted to put the whole experience behind me. The place definitely have a way of making travel exciting!