Yep, that’s right as in airport security stripped searched. (Of course this would happen to me.) Here’s the story… I spend plenty of time in Tel-Aviv and close by Jaffa, so I decided to mix it up a bit and go to neighboring Jordan to see Petra last weekend. It is one of the 7 wonders of the world (think Indian Jones) and I have a goal to see them all.
It would require a flight from Tel-Aviv to southern Israel, crossing the Jordanian border, and then a 2 hour bus ride to the historic site. Because of Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) which is on Saturday here everything is closed from Friday night to Saturday evening. (Incidentally, LDS services are also on Saturdays and I attended the branch in Tel-Aviv. They meet in a bomb shelter—that’s a story for another day). The only available day to go was on Sunday. I woke up at 4am in order to make it to the airport in time to catch my flight. I arrived with plenty of time despite a taxi driver that took me half way to the wrong airport before I realized it and we had to turn around and head to the correct airport. The airport I was flying out of was a local airport about the size of Yakima’s airport—it had one terminal. I made it through the security x-ray machine and one of the security guards pulled me and an Australian to the side. We were both traveling by ourselves and I think that is why they pulled us aside. They then started to interrogate me for 45 minutes. I had to give them hour by hour details of what I have done since I’ve been in Israel, what exactly I am doing for work, and show them pictures on my camera of the places I have visited since I have been here. Two separate guards asked me all the same questions and I had to repeat myself twice. Then they made me wait without my purse which had all my money, my passport, my hotel key, and all my phone numbers and contact information. Finally a female guard pulled me into a sketchy office and told me she had to search me!! I was so nervous—I started talking incessantly. It was so crazy I couldn’t help but laugh. It wasn’t an actual strip search but I still felt violated! I had to take off everything but my pants and a t shirt (including my bra). When she was examining my waistband she was asked me if I was wearing 2 pairs of pants (referring to my garments), I didn’t want to explain so I said yes. She paused and I was so worried she would make me take my pants off and I would be left standing there in my garments so I quickly explained that they are like underwear but longer. It was awkward. By the time they had finished invading my privacy, I had missed my plane thus missing my entire tour. If it hadn’t been such an awkwardly funny experience I would have been really mad. But what can you do in a foreign country in a situation like that? I ended up spending the day at the beach which was relaxing but I am now even more determined to get to Jordan and Petra. So now I can add to my list that I’ve been racially profiled and strip searched! What an accomplishment.