Locked Up Abroad

Post by Raven Chitalo for the Laughter Lover series.


Raven, Lea, Rebecca on a temple tour. Asim & Nasser, knights in hotel uniforms.

Locked Up Abroad

Picture It: Luxor, Egypt. July 2007.

Lea and I are relaxing in our hotel room, after a long day of temple tours. We’re discussing our newly discovered favorite female pharaoh, Hatshepsut, and our own brilliance about opting for the Air Conditioning upgrade. (Sidenote: this really has no bearing on the rest of the story, but here’s a Pro Travel Tip for you. When traveling in Egypt and India, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS go for the A/C upgrade. Even if you have to eat less or buy fewer scarves, it’s worth the extra $5. You will thank me later.)

Knock Knock.

We aren’t expecting anyone, so we are surprised, but I get up and answer the door. No one is there, which is confusing, but I shrug it off and go back to reclining on my bed.

Knock Knock Knock.

I get up and answer the door again, thinking the person must have stepped away to the elevator or something when I answered the first time. Still, no one is there. Lea and I exchange looks of complete befuddlement and discuss the possibility of ghosts. Maybe it’s King Tut or Cleopatra! I go back to my required scholarly reading of US Weekly.

Knock Knock Knock Knock.

OK, I get up again and this time I’m a bit perturbed as I open the door to find there’s STILL no one there. Then, it dawns on me that there is another option I never considered.

“Rebecca, are you knocking from inside the bathroom?”

“Yes. I can’t get the door open.”

“Why on Earth didn’t you shout for help? It’s been 5 minutes with me just answering the door and you’re still calmly knocking while I’m about to call security on invisible prankster ghosts.”

“I didn’t want to worry you.”

OK, so now that the mystery is solved, we get to breaking Rebecca free from her potty prison. Lea and I both take turns pushing against the door, to absolutely no avail.

We twist and turn the door knob every which way like Elvis impersonators. We shove and kick at the door like angry girlfriends on Cheaters. Not the slightest hint of movement.

We pull out our Jackie Chan moves and kick the door together. Nada.

We get all macho and shoulder butt it together. Nope.

We call in reinforcements when we see Asim, a hotel employee, walking by to deliver someone’s fresh towels. Asim drops off the towels and bravely comes back to help us. He pulls all the same moves we tried, with a bit more force and no more luck.

Rebecca pulls while we push and the door just stands there, hinting that maybe it secretly wishes it was a wall.

I realize I’m not helping at all, so I pick up the video camera to document our event. I’m acting as Official Sportscaster to give Rebecca the play-by-plays of the rescue effort so she doesn’t feel left out of the fun.

“Rebecca, we’ve seem to have attracted an audience of several fellow guests who happened to be walking by. You’re famous!” They stop in the hallway to watch the show for a few minutes before moving on. Ten minutes into the struggle, another hotel employee, Nasser, comes by and offers to help. Asim sends him to get some tools.

At this point, we’re positively giggly over this turn of events- a rock solid bathroom door, harder to part than the Red Sea.

The tools arrive and our heroes try to get a file in between the door and the jamb, just like you would with a credit card (if you were in the habit of breaking & entering, that is). Except the jamb sticks out over the door so they can’t get it in the space. Then, they try to get the file under the door to Rebecca so she can jimmy it from her side. Another dead end- there’s a marble lip on the floor on her side blocking us from passing it under. Our audience returns to check on the progress and is surprised to see we’re still in limbo. We’re not that exciting, so they move on to the rooftop pool.

Another 15 minutes have passed, so we’re discussing our options. The hinges are on her side, so we can’t take the door off the hinges. (If only there was a tool kit inside the bathroom, she’d be out by now. Where is MacGyver when you need him? He’d have gotten out using the soap and a toilet tissue roll or some other bathroom object you’d never think to use.)

A third hotel employee, Khalid, shows up to get the dirty sheets that Nasser never delivered and he tries to assist as well. Extra muscle makes no difference to the door, so Khalid leaves again to finish the housekeeping.

We’re running short on ideas, so I ask her if there are any vents she could climb out through, but no. No escape except through the door that is not budging.

Asim is most determined and continues to fiddle with the door knob and the tools and trying to knock something loose. They’re talking in Arabic and occasionally Nasser will push on the door at Asim’s command.

Then… a distinct flush. Our rescuers freeze in mid-movement.

“Rebecca, did you just use the toilet? What if we’d gotten through while you were on it?”

“Well, I got nervous. I just couldn’t hold it anymore.”

Rescue efforts pause, due to uncontrollable laughter on all sides of the door for that one.

After we dry our eyes and get back to work, we suggest they break the door, but our intrepid heroes don’t think that is a good idea. Asim seems to be prying the doorknob apart, slowly but surely. At some point, he cuts his finger but continues valiantly to work on setting Rebecca free.

Suddenly, about 5 minutes after the ominous flush, the door pops open.

FFFFRRRRREEEEEEEEDDDOOOMMMMMM!! We burst in after just over 30 minutes, to find Rebecca crouched in the tub in tornado drill position. Safety first!

I’d had to stop filming earlier, because of a battery shortage, so I ask our rescuers to reenact opening the door for our official records, which they find to be absolutely hilarious. I get the valiant rescue on tape and we all let out a big sigh of relief.

We thank them repeatedly, even trying out our few new Arabic words, and offer to tip them profusely, which they gallantly refuse and get back to their work as usual. Exhausted by all the excitement, we settle back in to make good use of our A/C upgrade and read more scholarly literature.
Needless to say, we didn’t shut the bathroom doors for the rest of our trip.

Raven Chitalo believes in the healing magic of laughter and the power of women to make great changes in our own lives and therefore in the world. At Discovering Your Dance, she guides women across the bridge from stuck to fabulous, by reminding you of your own inner worth and power, especially when you’re going through dramatic life transitions, such as divorce/breakups, relocations, and career changes. She will help you to reclaim the joy and passion that you still have deep within to release your inner fabulosity.

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