This week Brandon has been on duty. He has gotten a very busy duty week, as we have four days of vacation this week and he will have to take anything that normally would be sent to the ACS section during working hours. Duty week is always interesting (for me) and usually involves less sleep than a regular week.
Most of me is unhappy to hear the phone ring at two in the morning, but the part of me that covertly reads tabloids in the check-out line is excited to hear what ridiculous thing American citizens abroad have been up to lately. A whole website should be devoted to the calls that come in. Brandon's mantra when the children are doing dangerous things is "never become a duty call in your own district."
Last night, after a busy day of touring with my aunt and uncle, Brandon's phone rang. On the line was a man who was in the airport with his wife and four children, aged eleven to five. They were coming to Egypt for a week-long holiday from their overseas post and were being held up at passport control.
Brandon asked what the problem was, and the man said that he was unable to get the necessary visa to enter Egypt because he and his family are traveling on diplomatic passports. To enter Egypt, travelers only have to purchase a visa in the airport right before going through passport control. It's simple, it's easy, and it only costs fifteen dollars. When we were having trouble with Edwin's passport last year, that's how he got in the country.
A tourist visa, however, only works for tourist passports. Diplomatic passports require diplomatic visas, which can only be obtained from the Egyptian embassy in whatever country the traveler is coming from. Most countries don't have this stipulation, and I know veterans of the FS who have never owned tourists passports. I've never run into a problem, and neither has Brandon.
However, Egypt feels that their diplomats are treated unfairly in the US, and so our diplomats and official travelers are subject to the same rule.
So this poor man, his wife, and his children are in the airport awaiting a return flight after having spent a night in the airport and perhaps having to spend another night in the airport because of full flights due to Eid. Last night as we laid down in our soft, comfortable bed and went to sleep, I thought of this poor family stuck in an uncomfortable, dirty airport with their holiday ruined and money wasted. All because of a difference in passports.