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#1 Jun 17, 2022 11:46 pm

New Historian

Travels with a Legal Alien, Part 1

It's Friday night and too quiet out there...

More 'tall tales'!

Travelling on a Grenadian passport calls for planning and patience, plus occasional guile and cunning. In 1986-ish, a rare and short period of relative peace, my wife Marion and I traveled from Egypt to Israel, across the Sinai Desert, still strewn with rusting Egyptian tanks, by the cheapest means of transport possible: migrant bus. We were the only non-Egyptians on the bus, but after two weeks immersed in Egypt, we fitted right in: every inch the Arabs! Then we reached the border...

After an eternity driving across the boiling Sinai Desert, in the non-air conditioned 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. I had done my research and knew that I didn't need a visa to enter Israel on my Grenadian passport - but would they know that?

Israeli border guards do ... not ... play. They are as serious as a heart attack, and just as lethal. Clutching short Uzis and wearing aviator sunglasses allowing no eye contact, you didn’t make any sudden moves around these guys. In the women’s line, Marion 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 had no such luck. I handed my Grenadian passport to the guard. He looked it, then at me, then smiled.

“Hey, Mohammad, where did you buy this from?”

I assured him that my name wasn’t Mohammad, and I really, really was from Grenada, which really, really was a country, a real country. He was unimpressed.

“Sure, Mohammad. Come with me.”

So yet again I was escorted, this time at the business end of a loaded machine gun held loosely by the guard, to “the room”. There the smiling stopped. I must admit I did look a lot like Mohammed: bushy beard and all. All my life people have been not quite sure of my exact racial makeup; one night in Piccadilly Circus an old drunk bellowed at me: “Why dontcha go back to Delhi!” What?? Marion nearly collapsed laughing. But I didn’t want to be Mohammad, 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 Gree-nada, about a hundred thousand.”

“Hey Mohammad, you’ve done your homework! And the capital?

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


#2 Jun 18, 2022 2:55 am

Wide Sargasso Sea

Re: Travels with a Legal Alien, Part 1

The power of being a Jamaican abroad is awesome! It wins over anytime. Although I found it hard to believe that they left your other half go while they detained you for you did point out that Marion was your wife and that you are traveling together. With your "Arab" looks (a combo of African and European) and a well-shaven head, you would have been marked as a "SUSPECT". Obviously, you were marked as a terrorist in their eyes! I'm surprised that the guard didn't link "Grenada" with "Granada" Spain as they always do. That short, dreadlocks, football playing, womanizing, chillum -pipe- smoking man (Bob Marley) you knew, made us so world famous. A wide door is open to us in Europe, Asia and Africa as well. Marion and I are JAMAICANS, and you are a grenadian! I do cash in on it when I travel.

Last edited by Wide Sargasso Sea (Jun 18, 2022 8:35 am)


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