Exiting the West Bank

We are now in Amman, Jordan at the Arab Tower Hotel. We crossed the border from the West Bank into Jordan today because our flight leaves relatively early tomorrow and we can’t risk anyone being interrogated, detained, lost, etc. The adventure actually begins the night before when we decided to celebrate the end of our rotation and our final night in Ramallah. As I have alluded to before, Ramallah has a very vibrant nightlife with parties weekly that rival even Iowa City’s night life! The evening was interesting and memorable (for some of us) and we will leave it at that :).

We got up at 6 am today to be ready by 7 am for the taxi to take us to the Palestinian departure gate in Jericho. We all got 2-3 hours of sleep, mustered the energy to get in the cab and headed to our hours long adventure traveling in total about 45 miles from house to hotel. Since it is Friday, the border has limited hours of only 8 am – 10 am, so we planned accordingly. We dropped off our luggage with a bunch of random boys who say we will get them on the Israeli side, but still tends to increase my anxiety level. Fortunately, the gate was empty and we walked right up to the exit booths and got onto the appropriate buses, traveled to a secluded section where we all had to exit the bus and go through some sort of security checkpoint. The absurdity of this is that we would place our book-bags and other belongings on table and walk through a metal detector and simply pick up our stuff and go with no one looking at our stuff. The soldiers were at some distant booth staring at people walking through the metal detector and ordering commands from a “safe” distance.

We finally make it to the Israeli gate where we go through another metal detector, again with no one checking our carry on bags. We walk a little further to yet another security checkpoint, and you can guess it, another metal detector but this time they scan our bags. I get my paperwork checked and approved to continue while the other American students went to another “tourist” section secluded from the Palestinian section. I waited about an hour until I went outside and waited another 30 minutes until they finally popped out the other end and walked over to my end. While I was waiting for 1.5 hours, our section (Palestinian) had some sort of security lockdown which was either a drill or actually some “suspicious” item prompting the lockdown. It just began with something in Hebrew over the intercom and I suddenly saw workers running to various places and telling certain section to evacuate the building and others to go inside. I was told to return inside and wait while a soldier patrolled the area. After I asked, “What is going on? Can you tell me please?” The response from the female soldier was simply, “No” followed by multiple stares of impatience and disdain. Customer satisfaction is non-existent, to put it lightly. Fortunately, Josh, Michael, and James had no idea what was going on since the tourist side was not affected.

Our journey continues. Another bus ride to a random checkpoint to pick up our luggage and pay for another bus. This one took us to the Jordan gate to be admitted into the country. That went fairly smooth and we took a taxi to drop off our luggage a day earlier at Royal Jordanian,finally checking in at 3 pm at the hotel.

We deservingly all passed out and slept for 3.5 hours before walking around Amman, Jordan taking in the city. America, here we come.

One Response to “Exiting the West Bank”
  1. David Sheahdeh says:

    I am so happy that all of you are safe and wish you an easy flight to Iowa. Khalo David is so proud of you Dr. Harb

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