|Posted on December 2, 2011 at 3:55 PM|
Well it's all right; Riding around in the breeze
Well it's all right; If you live the life you please
Well it's all right; Doing the best you can
Well it's all right; As long as you lend a hand ~ The Traveling Wilburys
My Israeli visa is good for only three months. This means I need to leave and then re-enter Israel to get a new visa. So, not knowing what to expect, I headed for the Jordanian border. I chose the northern crossing for a variety of reasons, some no longer valid, but all things considered it seemed to be my best choice.
I headed out in the morning and made it to the central bus station in Jerusalem with no problem. After I purchased my ticket for Nazareth, as I waited on the platform for the bus, I was struck by the fact that a year ago waiting at that same platform for that same bus I felt so much joy and anticipation for a diversion that in the end, turned out badly. I could only hope that this trip which filled me with so much anxiety would turn out so much better.
Everything started out fine and I even managed to get to the bus transfer station in plenty of time to catch my connection to Nazareth. But then I could only watch helplessly as the bus drove past without even slowing down. I asked about the bus at the ticket counter. Although the agent spoke very little English, I was able to understand that the next bus was in two hours. The time came and went, and then after waiting three hours the bus came and went, again without stopping. I ran back to the ticket agent hoping he would call the bus back, knowing it was the last bus. He seemed very perplexed, made a couple of calls and reported “nothing to do”.
Now I was really stuck. I had gone from being on track, to hoping to find a place to stay in Nazareth, to having to sleep at the bus stop. I don’t speak any Hebrew, except “toda” – thank you, and I wasn’t feeling very thankful at all. I knew nothing about the town I was in and was not sure if I would have enough cash to pay a taxi and still pay the border fees. Taxis here are notorious for overcharging if they sense any desperation.
This was so messed up and I had no idea what to do. I have never felt so vulnerable here. Literally, my last hope was to contact someone I had met last year, who did not live too far away. Last year I thought we were friends, but he has refused to communicate with me since I left. His contact information was still on my phone, but I knew the likelihood that he would help was slim to none. It took an hour of arguing with myself to finally decide to contact him. I was able to send a short email with my Kindle (BTW, a great investment), I also sent a text in case he wasn’t home to get the email. I was relying on the Palestinian hospitality gene, but I never heard back from him. I guess he missed the lesson in Sunday school about the “Good Samaritan”.
It was dark and getting cold. I felt pretty deflated and contemplated going back to Jerusalem; but it would have been too late to get back into the West Bank. Just then someone approached me and asked me “Where you want to go?” I looked up and asked the man in front of me “Do you speak English?” Yes, he said, “a little”, and introduced himself – Nir. So I poured out my story. He took me to a private bus that would get me to the town closest to the border, Beit Shee’ann.
After arriving in Beit Shee’ann, again I had no idea what to do or where to go – I was so off the “plan” I had started with that morning. After standing on the corner for a couple of minutes, seeing no sign of the border or how to get there, another man approached me and asked if I needed help. He was from Nepal. He helped me find a taxi (which I paid too much for), and then I was at the border. At the border I was grilled for what was probably less than 15 minutes, but seemed like much longer. The border agent was obviously looking for my name in the computer. Only after I actually crossed the border did I relax. I was able to split the cost of the taxi to Amman with a young man from America who was there to attend a wedding. I finally arrived to my hosts and was glad for their warm welcome.
In two days I get to repeat the adventure for my return trip – part 2, next week.