I realized that this is a long overdue story. Because it is definitely one of the best Juba airport stories I have on file (and there are more, don’t you worry).
What reminded me of it is the fact that I am currently sitting in Juba airport. And I really am not sure what makes me happier. The fact I’m sitting in Juba airport where the x-ray machine has finally been fixed, there is power AND wifi, and they have brought line dividers for check in so people can form actual queues.
OR the fact I am just about to embark on an amazing week starting with a dear friend’s wedding and then a fantastic holiday with my lovely brother (more on that later).
But back to the actual story
To date, I have not posted my own description of Juba airport. Because I have not yet found the correct words to describe it that go beyond “hell.” But on that note, I want to link you to my friend Erin’s blog post on the subject (also a very entertaining blog to read). I think she has hit the nail on the head by describing Juba as the “Seventh Circle of Hell.”
Either way, as much as Juba airport does serve as an extreme source of aggression and manages to squeeze out every ounce of relaxedness that you may be coming back with to the country, it also never fail to provide travelers with hilarious non-make-upable situations.
Take the time I was coming back from a short stopover at home. Naturally I had in my suitcase 4 kg of fine Austrian and Italian cheese. Now being the world’s newest country, not all laws, policies and regulations have been developed. For instance, this applies to customs. However, that being said, these laws, policies and regulations do develop at a very rapid pace (and often at the whim of whichever law enforcement agency is trying to “implement” them). So naturally, returning to the country, I did not know if the law stipulating that “you cannot bring fresh produce into the country” had been established.
I also (correctly) assumed that the x-ray machine, broken since December 2011, had not yet been fixed (but now at least the one in departures has… I will update you on the one in arrivals when I return) and that therefore all there would be customs officials hand searching bags (ALL bags).
To cover my cheese therefore (which, unbeknownst to me, may or may not be illicit at this point) I packed it tightly in the depths of my bag.
There was one thing that I did not take into account….
The customs officer searching my bag found my tampons, proceeded to take them and wave them around accusingly (for the whole airport to see) asking me what this strange thing was I was trying to bring into the country.
I tried by explaining they were tampons.
Fail. He did not know tampons.
So I tried to explained that they were for women when they had their periods.
Fail again. He did not know what periods were.
At this point most people in the airport are looking at me and the tampons so with nothing left to lose, I thought I was going to have to give said customs official a biology lesson and explain female anatomy to him.
Thankfully his colleagues recognized them and explained to him. At which point a very apologetic and embarrassed customs officer hurried me through the airport without checking any of my other luggage. Which really was the quickest I have ever made it through (I’m taking note of the strategy).
So yes, the cheese made it, which really is the important part of this story.
And with that I leave you for a week whilst I go explore some new countries and come back with more photos and of course stories.