The first problem was being allowed into the Tel Aviv airport. Apparently I do not look like my passport photo (I concede that it is a bit scary). I pulled out a second ID which was my Japanese driver’s license which got more quizzical looks, and then my Czech residence card. As you can imagine, this lead to a barrage of questions about who I am, what I was doing in Israel, why I was flying to Japan and what I do in Prague. After several consultations with a supervisor, the lady tagged my bag, put a sticker on my passport, and let me in. The best was yet to come …
Check-in was painless despite my bag being 25 kg (I will be a light traveller someday). I confirmed that I had packed my bag myself, and I had no restricted items or weapons in any of my luggage. So onward to security. (It’s possible I went through passport control first; I can’t remember.)
At security, I follow the protocol and remove my laptop and liquids from by backpack. I get through the detectors without any horrible beeping noises (yay, no pat down) but my bags have a more difficult entrance. First, I had a file in my purse. I knew it was there and have travelled all over with it for at least three years so I thought it was fine. That was confiscated. Ok, stupid me, I can pay the price. But then my backpack is scanned several times and I am asked to open it. Out comes a stone that I bought with an Arabic calligraphy reading “Ya Baha’ul Abha” meaning “O glory of the All-Glorious”. The security agent tells me that this is a weapon and asks why I didn’t pack it when I was told I couldn’t have any weapons in my hand luggage.
First, I felt embarrassed, but also upset at a seeming accusation, and finally mortified when I started to cry. To compound matters, the agent asked me why I was crying and all I could do was stammer “I don’t know”. Although the crying was not deliberate, it was successful in saving my rock. The agent said that she could tell this was important to me and would get a box to check it in for me. She filled a box with bubble wrap and put the small box containing my souvenir in the centre, had me label the box and tagged it (after going to Turkish Airlines check in for the tag). I’m thankful.