PARTS OF THE MIDDLE EAST

I handed my passport to the customs agent and stood there. Watching his movements, I noticed his head bobbing back-and-forth, like he was listening to one of his favorite songs. Passing time. In a zone. Authorizing one person to enter, after another, after another.

Continuing his rhythm, he combed through my brand new little blue booklet. My old passport...no more pages. I filled up that bad boy in four years. So there I was, a fresh new passport in hand, attempting to enter a country that had strong political friction with the last two places I just visited.

The agent finally found what he was looking for. He found two stamps. One from Egypt. One from Jordan.

“Sir”, the agent asked in a rather deep and concerning voice, “how long were you in each country for?” He had a strong accent Later, I had come to realize it was an Israeli accent. Although, at the time, it was just an accent that was difficult to hear.

“Four days in each country. Eight days days total,” I responded. He pinched his left eye in a way that expressed concern and doubt. He then bit his lower lip as he gathered his thought. 

“Did you meet anyone in Egypt? Did you meet anyone in Jordan? Did anyone give you anything?” Again, the thick accent prevailed and I had to give myself a moment to process what he had asked. I quickly responded, “no,” as I shook my head. “I don’t know anyone there." Stay calm, I told myself. Relax. There’s nothing to worry about.

“Then,” said the agent, “what was the purpose of your visit?”

“To see the Great Pyramids and Petra.”

::m

Cairo, Egypt

The Great Pyramids

Petra, Jordan

The Ancient City