Sept 11: Each morning I get up, make myself some tea and go out to the orchard and relax, read a book, or let my mind wander. Listening to the news now and what is happening in the US to commemorate 9/11. I got a copy of an interview I did with KUOW before I left, and it feels strange listening to it and feeling so relaxed and not really thinking of anything.
Went to the city today to get some things. Walking around the town of Madaba and seeing signs all over the place with our family name and different people from the tribe and realize what it would be like living in a small town. The population is 150,000, it really isn’t small, but when most of the people are related to you it is very, very small!
Sept 12: This morning I woke and went to the Allenby Bridge border crossing with Israel. I wanted to see what had changed and the process that clients go through to go across. The drive from Madaba down to the Dead Sea to the crossing takes about 45 minutes. It was really hot (about 85) and getting warmer. Got there and talked to the police about what I wanted to do and see if I could take pictures. They were very helpful, but no pictures. The crossing, if doing VIP services, is $94 one way. You get to go to a special lounge to wait and someone comes and takes your passport and will get it signed and stamped. You are then taken to a waiting car or a van depending if you are traveling alone or with others. The crossing takes no more then 10 minutes. If you do not take the VIP service (which we normally include in our tour services) there are buses that leave every half hour and you have to do your own paper work and carry your own luggage. Most of the people that are working there are from the secret police. The VIP lounge is run by a private company contracted with the government. They will call to the Israelis and tell them that you are coming and then someone from the Israeli side will meet the car or van and take you to a lounge.
The Israeli side doesn’t move as fast as the Jordanian side. Then it also depends if you are an Arab of Palestinian descent. You could have been born in the US, but you had family in Jerusalem or they have property – they will have all this listed and they ask you these questions to verify, then you go thru a series of questions back and forth and one agent to another and maybe after two or three hours they will let you go. It is unbelievable how much information they have on Jordanians and Palestinians. When you give your name they will pull it up and let you know when you last came in to Israel and where you stayed and also the name of your father and grandfather etc. If you are an American with no other papers, and not with any political group, it is quite easy to go in to Israel. I entered Jordan with my Jordanian passport so when leaving Jordan for Jerusalem I have to give them my Jordanian passport, and then go in to Israel on my American passport. I had to tell the Israeli border officer that I was doing that since I had no Jordanian visa/entry stamp in my American passport.
People don’t realize that you can enter Jordan at the airport and get a visa on arrival. If you are flying into Israel first and then going to Jordan you need to get a Jordanian visa from the embassy in the US – they do not issue the visas on arrival at the border crossing.