Friday, May 8, 2009

Back across

Friday the 9th is really Friday the 13th, meaning its our 13th day since we left the States.

We're back in Jordan after another adventure crossing out of Israel/The West Bank. While this one didn't come with the capriciousness of an Israeli Customs agent lying to us about a new law demanding that our passports be stamped, it did take hours. But really it was uneventful but for the delay. 

We reached the Israeli/Jordanian border just before 8am. The gates to the crossing were not yet open, and so our taxi and the mini-bus that hauled us from Convent to crossing pulled over for a bit to await the start of the transit day. Getting out at the last slip of land in Israel (which was Jordanian by mandate in '48 and fell to the Israeli's in the '67 war) and walking a few feet away from the car set in motion the inevitable exploration. Just off the road itself endless cigarette packs lined the thick sand of the Jordan valley floor. History will reveal that Marlboros are the choice of drivers by a wide margin. The discarded packs popped up like spring flowers, and the butts of all those cigarettes, thousands of them, were the seeds. It made you understand just how many hours have been spent by taxi drivers waiting at that spot. There are bits of gum, an occasional water bottle or soda can. But mostly its just cigarettes and cement and rebar, the detritus from more tense times of barricades and shells. 

At the center dividing line between traffic bound for Jordan and traffic bound for Israel are the ubiquitous cement barriers. But unlike the Jersey walls in the States, these are cubes. They're painted as dice. Always a crapshoot crossing the border. Someone has a sense of humor or a sense of irony. 

You have to pay to leave Israel, and its not lost on one that someone somewhere has been sent back for lack of a few sheckels. 

The ride on the Jordanian side requires us to pile into four taxis. Shannon and I get the last one, and its just us, our cameras and our drivers. Who, as it turns out, is completely crazy. There's a video of our trip with him coming in the morning. We called it "moments with a madman." He was hilarious. Talking and singing and muttering and passing cars at insane speeds, honking at everyone, waving, yelling "HELLO" to any convertible he could encounter, and poking me in the shoulder regularly. At the end he gave Shannon the biggest, wettest kiss on the cheek I think I've seen in years. And it was all gums. Not too many teeth left in what had to be a 75 year old mouth. Hilarious. 

Saturday and Sunday we are off to Petra and Wadi Rum, and so will be off line for a day or so. But there will be stories to share for sure when we get back....

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