So we were sitting around Istanbul's airport for two or three hours waiting for the return trip. I decided to get in a short walk so I was gone when Andrew said a security guy came over to where he was sitting with our carry-on bags. We were already a bit on edge from being unexpectedly questioned by the Turkish officials (it wasn't so bad, but we were going on no sleep and you know how things seem exaggerated when you are tired, right?). So this security guy comes up and starts talking to Andrew about mundane things. We'd been in Istanbul's airport for twelve hours on our way to Damascus and this never happened. Andrew thinks, "Oh, they have people following us around the airport ... spying on us...wanting to see if we are terrorists or sinister somehow for going to Syria." Finally Andrew has enough of the chit chat and blurts out, "Why did you come up to me?" The security guy replies, "I just wanted to practice my English." :-)
On the way to Damascus, we did as the US airline's website suggested and had our extra batteries in our carry-on luggage. (In case of a fire, they would be easier to get to than if they were in checked luggage.) No problems whatsoever. However, on our return home, our extra batteries were confiscated including the ones in the little flashlight Andrew had in his bag. And Andrew's tiny clip-on flashlight was "questioned" in both Damascus and Istanbul! The guy was funny when Andrew said it was a flashlight. He tried it and said with awe, "Ahh, technology."
I had some of our smaller souvenirs packed in my carry-on bag. In Chicago, a screener wanted a closer look so I had to unpack part of my bag and have everything run through the x-ray machine again. The suspected thing: the blue pottery piece with the drainer spoon sticking out. (See it on the book, behind the camel?) Maybe it looked like a bomb to him.
Here are some of the things we bought or were given while in Syria. Notice the books which were given to us at the Islamic bookstore. The camel and key chain (see the cube?) were given to us by Samer's mom. According to Dania, the key chain is the Kaaba a reminder of the Islamic culture in Damascus and the camel is to remind us of Arabs. With pleasure.
Pictures from Home, USA
February 12, 2009
February 12, 2009