Visiting the Holy Land: Getting There

July 7, 2011

I recently took a trip to Israel, which departed March 3 and returned March 12.  For the next several articles, I’m going to offer reflections on what we saw (and, occasionally, what we didn’t see) there.  However, this article is about the story of how I almost didn’t get to make the trip.

After flying fromAustintoNew Orleanson Southwest, to join the tour group, I go to the Delta Airlines desk to check luggage through to Tel Aviv.  The person helping my wife and me noticed my passport expired in mid-June.  Now, that wouldn’t matter most of the time, but it certainly did in this case.

Why? Israel does not allow anyone with a passport expiring within six months to enter their country.

I was absolutely stunned!  The trip I had waited for with such anticipation—I had been toIsraeltwice before, but never with my wife—was disappearing before my eyes.

Fortunately, clearer heads got involved.  Family members remembered there was a Passport Bureau office in downtownNew Orleans.  One phone call got information on what information/documents were needed.  Another set up an appointment at a seemingly impossibly tight time at the Passport Bureau.  Then, it was up to me to jog through the airport, catch a cab and hit every stop just right downtown, as well as praying the Passport Bureau would deliver the new passport while I sat and waited.

Against all odds, two Haitian cabbies that drove like the Dukes of Hazzard, the passport office personnel and the people at Delta who re-booked me in record time barely got me on the last plane that could catch my tour before they flew out ofJFKAirportinNew Yorkfor Tel Aviv.  Miracles do happen!

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