After writing a slightly ranting blog about Logan security, I thought a very brief description of the security at the Shinyanga airport in Tanzania might provide a bit of humor.

The setting: rural Tanzania, a small airport with a single dirt runway.

The flights: once a day except Sundays—if there were enough passengers to merit the plane actually taking off.

The scene: After checking in and being told I’m extremely late for the flight (I arrived more than an hour in advance for a prop-plane flight that only happens once a day and seats about 60 people), I was ushered to “security,” otherwise known as a doorway with a table and one guy who glanced at me and asked, “Any explosives in your checked bag?” “Uh, no,” I replied as I glanced at my bulging red duffel bag. He patted the outside of the bag lightly and gave a nod to the baggage handler who promptly carried the bag five feet to the dirt runway and placed it on a luggage trolley.

“May I look through your carry on?”

“Sure,” I said. And he proceeded to glance through my—in my opinion—sketchy computer bag which was stuffed chock-full with snaking, intertwined and probably knotted wires and cords of various colors and pedigrees. He bypassed the cords and looked quizzically at the other pocket of paperwork. Paperwork that was—in his opinion—much sketchier than my errant cords. He carefully inspected the paperwork and folders.

Next was my purse. Again—in my opinion—sketchily filled with multiple cameras, FlipCams, cords, and medications (Maladrone for malaria and Cipro for those pesky travel stomach bugs). He briefly eyed the technological equipment and zeroed in on a dangerous target: an unopened package of four Duracell AA batteries.

He removed them gingerly. “These are not allowed on the plane. We’ll need to put them in your checked baggage.”

I may have let out a slight “ha!” out from under my breath as I laughed internally. “Sure, no problem,” I said. “May I put them in my bag?”

He said yes and I walked the five feet out onto the dirt tarmac, unzipped my bag piled on top of the three of four other checked bags, placed the perfectly sealed, newly packaged bag of Duracell batteries in my checked bag, zipped it, walked back to the security guy and was given clearance move into the waiting area.

It was hands-down one of the best travel experiences ever.

Oh and I should add, it was only when I walked back onto the dirt runway to board the plane that I noticed there were heavily armed military men everywhere. When taking video of boarding the plane I opted to not include them in the scene 🙂