On our way to Vajta, Hungary, to attend the Foundations conference at CCBCE, Suela and I had to cross into Serbia via the Macedonian border. That was not in our plans. Neither was the 40 minute, total car search by the 5 Macedonian border patrol men. They pulled us out of the line to cross the border, and I thought why us? Did Suela and I look suspicious? Did they see an older model Toyota Yaris and think...."drug/gun smugglers"? We drove into a special building that had a long pit, deep enough for men to stand under the car...it seemed too wide for my little car to drive over without falling in.
Everything was removed from the car...and every panel, every nook and cranny, even the gas tank was inspected. They used a small micro camera and looked into everything. They were nice...asked us where we were going, we showed them the map, they asked us about our faith...they joked around with my "mace spray" they found in the glove box. We had the "boys" luggage with us, but they didn't seem concerned. At one point I asked them, "why did you pull us out of line". All I was told is that I ask too many questions...then another border guard told me that they had to search 15 cars a day. They put everything back in place...and sent us on our way. (We were leaving Macedonia when this search occurred...would we be searched again in 50 yards trying to go into Serbia) Thankfully no...! ;-)
Then, after crossing the entire length of Serbia, as we were leaving to cross the border into Hungary...we were once again pulled out of the line and the car was searched. 35 minutes by 4 border patrol. They were not so nice or careful...they kind of just threw our stuff around, and insisted that we watch what they were doing. Again, the gas tank was inspected...this seemed really strange to me.
Later, as we were finally in Hungary, and back on the road to Vajta...after taking one full hour to get across the border after being searched...we talked about why my little Toyota was searched TWICE!
It had Albanian license plates....and there has been a lot of drug trafficking from Albania...in fact the borders where we were searched have stopped many large shipments of drugs and guns.
Now I know what "profiling" is all about. I am thankful that these men are doing their jobs...and I was purposeful to thank tell them so...even though I was tired of being searched. Lirak thought we should tell them that we had already been searched...and that would give us a "pass"....probably make them more determined to "detain us".
It is always an adventure to drive through eastern Europe...you never know what will happen at the border crossings.