Your Middle-East Travel Crisis (Not) Solved Here

 

You can't get there...

...from here.

The other night, I was at my computer at 1:30 a.m. (an occupational hazard of writing for a living) when an email arrived from a friend traveling in Israel and Jordan with her husband.

Seems they were 10 minutes away from the airport in Tel Aviv, en route to Jordan, when they got a call from their hotel in Jerusalem (which is an hour back in the direction of Jordan and until 1967 was a part of it.) Her husband had left his backpack with passport and all important documents behind. Her question was: Should she ever forgive him, or should she send him to Ramallah with a cab driver named Faisal to live out the rest of his days?

I emailed back:

Two options I can see:
Have the concierge at the hotel in Jerusalem forward it to you in Tel Aviv and catch the next flight to Amman in the a.m.
Or drive back to Jerusalem and cross by car THROUGH THE JORDAN VALLEY (THAT’S SUPREMELY IMPORTANT! TAKE THE NORTHERN ENTRANCE. YOU NEED A VISA TO CUT THROUGH THE WEST BANK)
Good luck.
And always forgive but NEVER forget…especially since it’ll make good dinner party conversation.
XO
J

 

There were several things wrong with my advice. One is that in Israel, a forgotten backpack is viewed with such alarm that it qualifies as a bomb threat, and the likelihood of the concierge being able to forward it without clearance from God himself is slim to none. Another is that there are three land crossings between Israel and Jordan, one going through the West Bank, which requires a special visa, and two that don’t. To make matters worse, the Israelis and Jordanians have different names for them. The Jordanians call two of the crossings “King Hussein Bridge” and “Sheikh Hussein Bridge,” while the Israelis call one of them “General Allenby Bridge.” Good luck specifying which one you mean to a cabdriver on either side of the border, which is why it’s so much easier (and faster) to fly from Tel Aviv.

The other thing that’s lousy about my advice is that my friend’s story won’t make good dinner party conversation. I know this only because Sam and I encountered similar snafus traveling between the two countries, and when we try (slightly wine-befuddled) to relate the details, it quickly becomes boring.

But I do agree with the forgiveness part. Mostly because the only reason you can cross between Israel and Jordan in the first place is that the two countries forgave each other sufficiently for the 1967 War to maintain open borders.

That, and the fact that most of the snafus Sam and I encountered were my fault.

 

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