Hey guys and girls. I am not even going to lie to you and say that leaving Tel Aviv was an easy task. It was very difficult to say the least. When I first arrived I could not pass through with the group because my plane to Casablanca wasn’t until later – around 1:20am. So I was forced to wait about an hour to go through security by a snappy Ethiopian Jewish girl my age. Fine.
The clock strikes 10pm, and then I am able to enter the security lines which are mad beastly- very long and very slow. I progressed maybe 5 feet in 15 minutes. When they finally came up me, the security agent took my passport, scrutinized it, and asked me a series of questions as to why I had been in the country. I answered earnestly, and then was able to go to step two which involved putting my bags through a monstrosity of a metal detector. It seriously spit out my bags at a speed of about 10 mph; had there not been a safety guard on the other side of the machine, someone could have died from the blow of that 60lb bag. (Yup folks you are right, I did go over the weight limit again – but I will get to that later.)
After that “preliminary” check, we had to enter a line to wait for security or “scrutiny” agents to basically unpack and repack our bags for us. When I was waiting for my turn to come, I was pulled out of line…I thought “here it comes, the infamous ruthless interrogation”. But the agent led me to an empty counter to begin the bag-search process. They wanded everything – I mean everything possible – in my bag for explosives. They put my laptop in the screening machine twice – they did the same thing to my shaving cream. I can understand though, seeing that a lot of countries do not like Israel – but dang!?
When my bags were done it was time for my body. Yup, I had to go to a separate local to get a pat down. The security agent, who’s name was Judis, apologized for the possibly of making me uncomfortable, which was really nice. Though I am used to getting pat downs, the TSA usually does it with an attitude which Judis did not have – I can respect that. After a thorough search of my hair (?!), I was free to go to my gate.
But before then, I had to check in my bags. The original bag I took on the trip was broken so I bought another one in Ramallah. Of course it was over weight – about 65lb. But I didn’t have to pay, they let it pass! This is true victory- going on 5 flights in 2 1/2 weeks and 4 of those 5 times, I had over weight bags but not a dime was paid in overages. Anyways, it was off to my gate, where the real trouble started.
I got there without incident. But it wasn’t before long that I realize our plane was terribly off schedule. We were supposed to leave at 1:20 am but did not begin to board until 2:00am. I took my seat on the plane, and I heard an announcement say that we literally had 5 minutes to be seated until the airport closed – if it closed then that would mean that we could not take off and our flight would be rescheduled sometime for the next day. WHAT?! Yes. When the flight attendant made this announcement, all broke loose. People began blaming this situation on the flight attendant. If I did not know better, I would have thought a riot was about to break out on the flight.
Then the countdown began. Two minutes, one minute. We then started to taxi. I fell asleep, and woke up to a horrifying announcement that we did not make the countdown. The riots were breaking out. People started to yell. She continued the announcement saying we would have to deplane and then catch the next possible flight to Brusssels sometime tomorrow afternoon. WOAH? My connection would be jeopardy. For some with less time between their connections, they were contemplating walking to Brussels, no doubt they would probably get there faster. But the people who were trying to leave their seats were told to sit down. Okay, if we are forced to sit down, then I made the rational decision to take a nap.
I wake up to another announcement around 3:00am saying that Ben Gurion does not have its stuff together, and we have just been given absolute clearance to fly to Brussels. YAY, cheers erupt. But wait, the pilot continues to say that if we do not arrive to Brussels by a certain time, he would be in danger of losing his license so he would have to fly very fast to get there. Wait a minute. Look, I want to get to Brussels just as badly as the two Belgium girls sitting next to me – but I do not want to die in the process!? Jeez. So knowing me, I ask the flight attendant if it was safe to still be on this plane. She yes “Yes of course, we have families, etc, etc.”
Okay, lets go – heavy nap time. Its right around 4 am now. Drama aside, we get to Brussels around 8am. I get out on a tourist visa and see the city. It was nice and chilly. I spotted about 40 hijabis which is cool, unfortunately I can say there are more hijabs in Brussels than there are in West Jerusalem. Anyways, I hop on my next connection to Casablanca. I arrive and my bags ARE NO WHERE IN SIGHT. I am not going to say I didnt see it coming, I knew something was up.
Anyways, I checked into my arabic school today and I got the keys to my apartment which I will be sharing with about 8 other girls. I am going back to casablanca tomorrow to pick up my bags, I am working on the assumption that they will arrive tonight. I would know for sure if the phone number the claims people gave me would work :). I will keep you posted.