Monday, 1 November 2010

Akhmed ate my passport

Warning!! I seem to be having major font issues today so read at your own peril

So yesterday
I wrote that I had screwed my traveller’s head tightly on – not tightly enough it seems. First, I tried to board the wrong flight to Beirut and nearly missed my own. Then, as I sat on the plane halfway to Lebanon filling out my entry form, I rather calmly (I might add) discovered I seemed to have misplaced my passport. It wasn’t in Ahkmed (my Tunisian satchel bag), it wasn’t on the floor, it wasn’t under my neighbour’s bottom ( which was checked with permission.) It seemed to have disappeared entirely.

My neighbour, a very lovely chap from Portugal, who works for the UN in
Kosovo but was on a conference trip to Beirut to discuss sexual harassment (we got to know each other quite well during the find-the-passport dance) also started searching. He was very complimentary of my calmness although did note I seemed less enthused by my flight snack than most other people. I even forewent a mini bottle of Yakut red wine ( which I would have loved to have drunk more than anything in this world) so as to focus fully on the passport puzzle.

Anyway I still felt convinced I had been carrying my passport when I boarded the plane (which UN man and I more-or-less confirmed through a series of telepathic re-enactments) so we decided that it must have got caught up in the limbs of some of the other passengers as they had shoved past me to their seats. Of course I wanted to frisk everyone there and then (UN man even had police training so he would have been able to use appropriate handling techniques) but in the end I decided to inform the flight crew instead. UN man agreed it was a good idea but said it would probably alarm them because
a number of airlines are having problems with asylum seekers right now.(Apparently they like to dispose of their passports down the toilet during the flight - the asylum seekers that is not the airlines.)

I asked him if I looked a likely asylum seeker and he shook his head. I did ponder it for a minute though. I had heard the food was good in L
ebanon and the thought of Basel depresses me at the moment. Anyway I told a steward who tore up all the seats in my row much to the alarm of all the other passengers ( and looked as if he might like to tear me a new one too.). The fact that I was smiling in a sorry ‘only me’ kind of way hopefully allayed any fears of a bomb!

Finally the passport was indeed found.
Akhmed was the culprit. He had craftily swallowed it through a long, narrow tear in his skin so the passport had assumed the role of bag not identification document. Even UN man was impressed at how it had managed to disappear without a trace and begged me to find a leather man in the morning to glue the tear back up. In the end I arrived in Beirut safely and was deposited with my taxi driver by UN man before he left to the save the world one more Resolution at a time. Of course I lost the taxi man within a minute - not my fault - the guy just disappeared and then reappeared ten minutes later without telling me why. His name was Claude and we had an animated ride into downtown Beirut.
'So what your job?'
'I'm a teacher.'
''English teacher...hello, how are you...'
'Oh yes yes ..ABCDEF...123. I know I know.'
Eyes narrow.
'So you strap the students when they are wrong!?'
I honestly couldn't tell if he was alarmed or excited by the idea.


Today I spent most of my time walking the streets. I believe I may have walked the entire length of Lebanon. Don't ask me where I went as I am a geographical embarrassment. But I have attached a few pictures as evidence of the fact that I am not just lying in my bed much as I would love to.

The first one is of downtown Beirut which really is a work in progress. There is a lot of reconstruction work going on there but every so often you see a lovely old building or the sad remains of one.

I also walked along the Corniche where I saw some men fishing in the the natural pools. You can swim in these too although probably best to avoid the hooks.

I also visited Pigeon Rock which is a famous Beirut landmark. Not sure why it is called Pigeon rock but it's nice for pigeons to get a rock. Normally they just get abuse. I had a picture of myself taken here but I look like I have been punched in both eyes - which is kinda how I feel. It seems the camera never lies. I shall save that picture for next Halloween.

Now I am back in my hotel lying in my lovely bed. It is quite early here but I think I am done with this day. Sometimes I make a good companion for myself but today I feel as if I have had enough.


Mon said...

Hello there... my World Vision sponsor child lives in Lebanon. Her name is Monica. If you find her, say HI from me.
I can't believe from your photos that Lebanon is so beautiful. I have only ever seen war-torn images of this country.

Joanna said...

Hi Mon

I will definitely look out for her. Lebanon is very beautiful country. love j xoxo