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#1 Dec 27, 2017 4:40 pm

New Historian
Active

Travelling on a Grenadian passport can be hazardous to your health!

It was 1986, one of the few periods of peace between Israel and Egypt, and SWMBO and I paid a summer visit to both countries. After a week in Egypt, we took a bus across the Sinai Peninsula to Tel Aviv.  This wasn’t a luxury coach, it was a chicken bus, filled with migrant workers, and SWMBO and I were the only non-Egyptians on board. Mind you we fitted right in, we’d both bought a lot of wearable souvenirs.

After an eternity driving across the boiling desert in a non-air conditioned chicken bus we finally arrived at the Egypt-Israel border. This may have been a time of peace, but in times of peace you prepare for war; and the Israeli border guards had lost not one ounce of their famed and feared vigilance. We were ordered off the bus and herded into a secure zone surrounded by a chain link fence topped with razor wire: men here, women over there.

As is understandable given the circumstances, Israeli border guards do ... not ... play. They are as serious as a heart attack and just as lethal. Clutching short Uzis and wearing identical aviator sunglasses allowing no eye contact, you didn’t want to make any sudden moves around these guys. In the women’s line, SWMBO was a couple of feet ahead of me and when she showed her passport I heard the guard say “Ah Jamaica, Bob Marley! Welcome to Israel!” I didn’t have such luck. I handed my passport to the guard. He looked it, then at me, then smiled.

“Gra-nada? Hey Mohammed, where did you buy this from?”

I assured him that my name wasn’t Mohammed and I really was from Grenada. He was unimpressed.

“Sure Mohammed. Come with me.”

So yet again I was escorted, this time at the business end of a loaded machine gun, to “the room”. There the smiling stopped. I must admit I did look a bit like Mohammed.  One night in Piccadilly Circus an old drunk bellowed at me: “Why dontcha go back to Pakistan!” Pakistan??? SWMBO nearly collapsed laughing. But this time I really didn’t want to be Mohammed, and nobody was laughing.

A senior officer, armed of course, scrutinized my passport.  He asked me a bunch of questions: What were you doing in Egypt? Why are you travelling on this chicken bus?  Then he took out “the book of countries”, flicked through it and indeed found Grenada.

“So, how many people live in this ... Granada?”

“It’s Gre-nada, sir, about a hundred thousand.”

“Hey Mohammed, you’re good! And what’s the capital?

“St. George’s.” At which point he began to believe me, and two minutes later we were both laughing as he admitted he’d learned about a new country that day: GrEnada!

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#2 Dec 29, 2017 6:37 pm

Expat
Active

Re: Travelling on a Grenadian passport can be hazardous to your health!

I let Alan Whicker do all my travelling... Much safer...  smile

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#3 Dec 31, 2017 10:23 am

Calypso
Active

Re: Travelling on a Grenadian passport can be hazardous to your health!

New Historian wrote:

It was 1986, one of the few periods of peace between Israel and Egypt, and SWMBO and I paid a summer visit to both countries. After a week in Egypt, we took a bus across the Sinai Peninsula to Tel Aviv.  This wasn’t a luxury coach, it was a chicken bus, filled with migrant workers, and SWMBO and I were the only non-Egyptians on board. Mind you we fitted right in, we’d both bought a lot of wearable souvenirs.

After an eternity driving across the boiling desert in a non-air conditioned chicken bus we finally arrived at the Egypt-Israel border. This may have been a time of peace, but in times of peace you prepare for war; and the Israeli border guards had lost not one ounce of their famed and feared vigilance. We were ordered off the bus and herded into a secure zone surrounded by a chain link fence topped with razor wire: men here, women over there.

As is understandable given the circumstances, Israeli border guards do ... not ... play. They are as serious as a heart attack and just as lethal. Clutching short Uzis and wearing identical aviator sunglasses allowing no eye contact, you didn’t want to make any sudden moves around these guys. In the women’s line, SWMBO was a couple of feet ahead of me and when she showed her passport I heard the guard say “Ah Jamaica, Bob Marley! Welcome to Israel!” I didn’t have such luck. I handed my passport to the guard. He looked it, then at me, then smiled.

“Gra-nada? Hey Mohammed, where did you buy this from?”

I assured him that my name wasn’t Mohammed and I really was from Grenada. He was unimpressed.

“Sure Mohammed. Come with me.”

So yet again I was escorted, this time at the business end of a loaded machine gun, to “the room”. There the smiling stopped. I must admit I did look a bit like Mohammed.  One night in Piccadilly Circus an old drunk bellowed at me: “Why dontcha go back to Pakistan!” Pakistan??? SWMBO nearly collapsed laughing. But this time I really didn’t want to be Mohammed, and nobody was laughing.

A senior officer, armed of course, scrutinized my passport.  He asked me a bunch of questions: What were you doing in Egypt? Why are you travelling on this chicken bus?  Then he took out “the book of countries”, flicked through it and indeed found Grenada.

“So, how many people live in this ... Granada?”

“It’s Gre-nada, sir, about a hundred thousand.”

“Hey Mohammed, you’re good! And what’s the capital?

“St. George’s.” At which point he began to believe me, and two minutes later we were both laughing as he admitted he’d learned about a new country that day: GrEnada!


The Caribbean islands are virtually unknown. Something like this happened to my baby sister years ago during a stop over in Germany. I believe she had gone to Russia. She was in Dusseldorf and she had a Jamaican passport. They thought she was going to stay in their country illegally. They gave her the hassle of her life.  She later became a  American citizen.

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#4 Dec 31, 2017 3:11 pm

New Historian
Active

Re: Travelling on a Grenadian passport can be hazardous to your health!

An immigration officer in Botswana once told me: "I'm sorry sir, Grenada is not a country." The nerve! He was looking in "The Book of Countries", but obviously spelling wasn't his strongest subject in school!

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