Saturday, November 03, 2007

Busted at the airport

One rock we did not actually try to take out in our baggage
I came through the metal detector at Tamanransett Airport on our way out of the desert back to Algiers and Hawley had already been stopped by the transportation workers.

"Ma'am, do you have rocks?"

Did we have rocks! We'd spent a week in the Sahara selecting and stashing pebbles in our pockets and back packs. We had green ones and rippled purples ones and purple and white and rose ones. We even had one that looked like a sculpted rose. We had about 50 rocks in all between us.

"Interdict!" the guards told us. You can't take rocks out of the desert.


Our guidebook had not mentioned this. Our guides had helped us pick out the best rocks. This wasn't fair. Hawley protested mightily as I was digging through a week's worth of sandy underwear and dirty socks looking for rocks. A line of passengers built up behind us waiting to get through the metal detector. The guards were smirking. "This happens all the time," they told us.

They took our Coke bottle of sand too. CAN'T WE JUST HAVE SOME? Hawley wheedled.

They agreed we could have one each. Hawley bent down into her pack and hauled out a boulder with two hands.

"No. Not that one," the guards objected. Hawley began going through the rocks one by one, moaning, "but we picked each of these so carefully." The people behind us in the line shifted.

"Here's a nice one," one of the guards helpfully pointed out, trying to hurry things along.

We were pretty sad as we sat in the waiting room with our much lighter suitcases. A group of Swiss tourists got to talking to us and we told them what happened. "Oh, our guide told us we couldn't take rocks," they said. "So we have them in our pockets and shoes."

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