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Gilded Serpent presents...
Rhea's Travel to Syria .
PART 3 - Surrounded by Men in the Airport
by Rhea of Athens

Continued from Part 2

At 2:00 am there is a loud knocking at my door. It's the handsome affable guy. 

"Your visa ready now."  I'm hiding my body behind the door as I stick my head around.  I also have the trolley for the suitcases blocking the door.  (Clever girl, eh?  You think it's the first time I've traveled alone in the Middle East?)  Now I pull the sleepy diva.  "Bukra (tomorrow) morning.  Thank you."  And close the door.  Thank God.  I had almost been looking forward to getting that chic black dress left behind at my favorite haunt after Khan Khalili, the Ramses Hilton Shopping Mall, and re-visiting the perfume bazaar.  But, oh well.  Maktub (fate).

I wake to my own alarm and begin to prepare myself.  45 minutes later, the sleepy girl who promised to wake me at 7:00 arrives.  "Sorry!" she says and I can see she has come to me before washing her face or drinking coffee.  

Of course, I forgive her.  I forgive everyone now.  Of course, I still don't have the visa, but I am optimistic. 

A trip downstairs reveals my affable, debonair officer who commands another to open the passport section and issue me the stamps and visa.  "20$"  "20E"  "OK"  "No, ok."  It is worth more, and he reluctantly gives me change. 

No sooner do I have the visa and the passport in hand and am on my way up to transit to get my suitcases, coat, etc. that I am stopped by every 1st level, 2nd  level, 3rd level official.  "Passport please.  Visa please." Oh, come on guys but I am in a good mood now and let them all see it. 

I'm sure they're checking out my age and marital status.

As I go upstairs to congratulations from all upstairs personnel, I am approached by a military officer.  "Passport please.  Visa please." He retains them and informs me that I cannot be in transit as I have my visa for Damascus, but must depart immediately for Damascus.  "But my bags, coat, money, allergy medicine are in the hotel room" I protest.  He is adamant "You must go now." Although it may seem Kafka-ish, if you've seen all the Egyptian comedies that I've seen with Adil Iman and Yousra, it seemed warmly familiar.  I was laughing.  "No, no.  My suitcases." "No, no.  You go." Etc.  We are now surrounded by upstairs and downstairs personnel, all competing to explain the situation.

He has my arm and is pulling me.  The crowd moves with us.  Abruptly, the phone rings.  Someone gives it to him.  I suspect it's the dapper agent downstairs. 

After all, he saw me first.  The official drops my arm like a hot potato, relinquishing my documents and scurries off.  I collect my things and go downstairs, holding my passport and visa in my hand like a flag.  I am escorted to the exit and put in a taxi.  Only $10 (okay, euros but forget it already).

My suitcases are handed to me and I go to the hotel recommended to me by the gentleman at the ticket desk at Syrian Airways.  I approach Damascus wondering what fate will bring me now.  Tune in next week.

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