My 30-hour Travel Nightmare
A horror story by Farrah Rochon
(Farrah Rochon is a best-selling romance writer and, I am proud to say, a friend of mine. She is also a US citizen, born and bred, and I am appalled at the treatment she was subjected to in Israel!!!)
It all started at the first security checkpoint at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. It was 2:30am and all I wanted was a hot cup of coffee and a comfortable seat on my 5:20am flight. When the security person took my passport and asked if I knew the origin of my first name, I didn’t think anything of it when I answered “I know it’s Arabic.”
His answer: “Yes. It is.”
He asked what my aunt and I were carrying, and asked if anyone had given us anything to carry. Then he asked if I had weapons or a bomb. 😳 I thought it was a joke (umm...I would soon learn that they don’t joke about things like that at this particular airport).
The first security guy let us through and off we went. I foolishly thought that was the end of it. Until we made it to the second checkpoint. My aunt was allowed to go straight to the security check, but I was asked to follow a guard to another area. I watched while one of them took my passport and walked away, and wondered if maybe I should have just told that first guy that I was named after Farrah Fawcett.
This was the start of my 30-minute firsthand experience with Israeli security. Every single object in my carry-on and purse were swiped for residue. Everything. Phone and Kindle taken out of the case. Dirty underwear was swiped. My pack of TicTac’s? Swiped for bomb residue. I even thanked them for finding a flash drive I thought I’d lost. At one point there were four people going through my stuff.
Then came the body search. I went through an X-ray machine several times before I was brought into another room with two female security guards. They proceeded to check every single inch of my clothing. They methodically checked every seam. They even made me remove the band-aid on the bottom of my foot from a cut I got at the Dead Sea (more on that later) so they could make sure there was nothing in there. Twice more I was asked if I had plans to bomb the aircraft, or if anyone had given me a bomb.
Finally, after nearly a half-hour, I was allowed to leave. This entire time my poor Aunt Cathy had no idea what was going on.
I thought everything was over after we left Tel Aviv, but learned that my passport had been flagged when, yet again, I had to go through an extra security check in Zurich, Switzerland.
Thankfully, after that long flight, we made it to the States. But we were an hour behind because the plane had to be de-iced in Switzerland. We’d already had a short amount of time to get from Miami airport to Fort Lauderdale, and knew there was no way we’d make our flight home to New Orleans. But God takes care of children and fools (not sure which one I am), and we were able to buy another ticket on another airline and fly directly out of Miami.
This was a good thing because, by this point, I was in so much pain I could barely walk. Remember that cut I mentioned? Things had become much worse. What started as (what I thought was) a little cut on a piece of salt or a rock at the Dead Sea turned out to be a nice gash on the bottom of my foot. When I woke up this morning, I could barely walk. I immediately went to the Urgent Care Clinic and they immediately sent me to the ER.
One tetanus shot and wound irrigation later, and I’m finally home. Still in pain, but I have antibiotics, pain meds and one wild, crazy story to tell.