October 25, 2023

Reflections – Rafah Crossing, We Were There

Reflections – Rafah Crossing, We Were There

The Rafa Crossing is in the news since hostilities have broken out again between Israel and Hamas. My family lived in Cairo, Egypt, during the late 1980s. We used some of the time to tour the area and once rode a Volkswagen tour bus across the northern Sinai and into Israel. The passengers included both Israelis and Arabs, and I recall being impressed at how similar the Hebrew and Arabic languages sounded. The entry point they took us through was Rafah, which has become rather famous recently. From there, we went on to Jerusalem.

A couple of years later, we were transferred to Dubai. At the last minute, I realized our passports included a stamp for the “Rafah Crossing.” And we became aware that any passport control inspector who looked at it would realize we had been to Israel. There was concern that the Arabs might not like that, especially since my job was going to be working directly with the government of Dubai.

So, just before our flight to Dubai, we drove to the American Embassy, explained our issue, and asked if they could get us replacement passports. Fortunately, I had worked with the Embassy staff to potentially make available our oil field helicopter in the event there was an accident involving Americans in the Red Sea area of Hurghada. The Embassy staff recognized who I was, whizzed us upstairs, and handed us new passports in only about five minutes! Sometimes, it helps to know the right people! Any incident that might come from the Rafa Crossing stamp had been avoided.

We arrived on time at the Cairo airport, all four of us: Me, Patsy, Julie, and “Aggie,” Julie’s guinea pig. Aggie traveled quietly in a little hand-carried wicker picnic basket with a checkered cloth over it. There was a bit of a stir when security wanted to run the basket through X-Ray! And then, the airline staff had to decide whether Aggie could fly with us in the plane’s cabin. (An Egyptian vet had earlier certified that he was a healthy “guinea rabbit,” Moslems prefer not to handle pigs.) In the end, it was decided that this was a matter of “pilot’s discretion.” Fortunately, the pilot agreed, so Aggie the guinea pig flew first class from Egypt to Dubai!

Thus, ended yet another “normal” adventure of an expatriate family in the Middle East.

Blessings and peace,

Chaplain Allen

Disclaimer statement: Please note that the opinions expressed herein are those of the Chaplain alone and are based on his personal understanding of scripture and how God works in our lives.

Read more Reflections: Chaplain’s Corner.