Barriers

West Bank, Palestinian Territory

We took two daytrips to the West Bank while still based in Jerusalem.

Our first excursion first led us to Ramallah, the de facto Palestinian capital, where Bernhard and I wanted to buy a Jordanian visa in advance.  (Again, this is to avoid the Israeli stamp stigma, which affects Jordan as well: if you get a stamp from a border that Jordan and Israel share, you may also be denied entry into various countries.)  This was a quick, uncomplicated bus ride from Jerusalem. Continue reading

Divisions

Jerusalem, Israel

It’s hard not to visit Jerusalem and not get into religion or politics.  I won’t be avoiding either.

And given my writing style, it’s hard not to write about personal turmoil.  After a lot of thinking and putting off writing this and the next few entries, I won’t be avoiding that topic either.  I’m writing this entry over two weeks late (it’s now August 11).  What happened is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but it’s turned into a significant part of my travel experience.

But let’s start from the beginning.  Flying into Ben Gurion Airport (between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem), there was one thing I needed to do first: avoid the Israel passport stamp.  A little sad that I have to do that, but many countries (Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan…the list goes on) refuse travellers who have the stamp in their passport.  My travels may be ending soon, but given that my passport is new, I don’t want to restrict myself in the future.  No offense to Israel though!  The customs officials do understand. Continue reading