Monday, October 19, 2009

Traveling To and Through the Holy Land

[Written on October 13th]

I'm typing these words on the Egged bus heading from Eilat to Tel Aviv. I know, what happened? Jerusalem? R? (I'm writing in code because I'm sitting next to a boy in military attire, and although he said he doesn't speak English, for all I know he could be Mossad or Shin Bet or I don't know...hehe).

Even though I'm still in the middle of this rather confusing and very exhausting trip to R, I can tell you what happened thus far (and also what I still have left to get myself through to finally get to the desired destination of this trip):

It started this morning. At first we were delayed due to snowy weather, which required the wings to be de-iced. This isn't so bad if you know you're off to warmer climes (35 degrees Celsius when I landed in Aqaba!), but it didn't stop there.

Next thing happened when we were taxing out from Arlanda Airport. Suddenly the captain goes "Sorry ladies and gentlemen, we have to turn back because there is something wrong with the radio height measurer" (...or something? Is there such a thing?) "so we have to get some technicians come on board to fix it." Also okay (considering you do not want to fly without a radio height measurer) if you don't have a last bus to Jerusalem to catch in Eilat. But it could have been worse, and we were only around two hours delayed after all (and most importantly, we didn't crash).

But again, it didn't end there. In Aqaba, the passport control took, oh, I don't know, TWO HOURS TO COMPLETE AND WE WERE ONLY 200 PASSENGERS IN AN OTHERWISE EMPTY AIRPORT. Sorry for screaming, but I'm still not over the fact that even Egyptians are quicker.

(Speaking of Egypt, we flew in over Cairo, my beloved Cairo. A part of me still wishes I were moving there).

In any event, the part of this trip that I dreaded the most was actually quite easy. If not breezy. I just walked through the border control between Aqaba in Jordan and Eilat in Israel: almost no questions asked. No "What's the purpose of your visit?" No "Are you Jewish?" No " What's the name of your father? Your grandfather?" No "Do you have any connections to Arabs?" No "Do you intend to visit the West Bank?" Like last time coming via Tel Aviv airport.

Only one measly little "Have you been to Israel before?"

But no matter how breezy that crossing was, I still arrived at the bus station ten minutes after five. Ten minutes after! The last bus to Jerusalem was at five. How annoying is that?!

So I sat myself down at the Central Bus Station in Eilat and patiently waited for the seven o'clock bus to Tel Aviv instead. No problem. I'll just text my friend in R and tell him I'll be late. I'll just ask if the Q checkpoint over to R is open sometime after midnight, no problem at all.

But then, of course, I can't text from my Swedish phone to his Palestinian number from Israel. ?!?!?

Luckily I can text my little sister in Sweden (hi Mirja!), and she texted my friend in R, and then forwarded the info, and that's where I am now. On the bus heading to Tel Aviv, with the forwarded info from my friend saying that the checkpoint will be open inshallah, and that I have to ask the taxi driver from Jerusalem to call him when I'm on my way so he can describe the way.

But first, I need to get off in Tel Aviv (which will be hours from now, because apparently this is the local line, going through every little town on the way, stopping every ten minutes or so), find a shared taxi to Jerusalem, then change to an Arab taxi who is willing to take me over to R.

Oh yes!

And if I'm lucky I'll arrive at my new home before dawn.

Reference Guide:

R=Ramallah, my new hometown as well as political center of the West Bank

Q Checkpoint=Qalandia checkpoint between occupied East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank

The Holy Land=the Historical, Biblical, Beautiful Land of Palestine, occupied and colonized by Israel since 1948


moryn said...

Ta hand om dig! Puss kram Moryn
Alina hälsar ;)

Ruby said...

Åh tack, hälsa Alina den fina :)