Friday, May 1, 2009

Six and one half

...Hours since we left the hotel in Amman.

Six hours.

So, it’s 44 miles between Amman and Jerusalem. At speed it should take 40 minutes to get from the Old City of Amman to the Temple Mount. In traffic it should take 1:20. We are now six hours and counting and I am still sitting in the Immigration building here at the Allenby/Hussein bridge. The rest of the company has just jumped out and is bound for Ramallah. Somewhere in the innards of Immigration Control Christopher is trying to locate our last bag, which contains ALL our tape stock for the tour, our projector cables, various XLR cables and that assortment of things you absolutely have to have if you are going to make a documentary, and project images, on an international experience.

The Israeli passport office lived up to all its storied reputation for making it challenging to move across the border. The tradition is that if asked the Israeli's will put a paper stamp in your passport, rather than an actual stamp on the passport itself, to allow for Americans to travel to other countries in the Arab world. They refused today.

CKM has emerged from behind IC and all the bags are intact (except mine, which has chosen this particular moment to explode).

It’s 30 degrees warmer in the Dead Sea Valley than in Amman. Given that it’s a 30 minute drive that’s a bit startling. But it’s also the lowest land point on earth (which is a favorite thing to tell tourists).
In the Immigration Control Center there is, on the Israeli side, a poster that shows the many faces of the country an says, cleverly “believe in Israel.”

Khaki pants, an Uzi with the possessors right hand on the butt and left hand scratching his crotch. He’s wearing a blue and white striped polo shirt and Nikes to complete his outfit. No hat. No formal uniform. Just a gun that lets you know he’s official.

On the bus. I boosted a wifi signal here at the station. So this is real-time....

We’re just inside the Palestinian controlled West Bank. The bus from IC stopped 100 yards inside the border walls, laced with curved and snaking barbed wire and a sign that reads: “No Israeli citizens permitted across the border.”
The bus is parked, people are out smoking, there are diesel fumes wafting in with the blasting air conditioning and the bus is vibrating the way idling diesel buses do. I keep thinking about the systemic waste issues.

Jason is over my left shoulder asleep, as is almost everyone else. People are jumping back on board. Time to post and head out....

So, passport control…all they said it would be and more.

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