Chapter 1 The Allenby Bridge
“Wait what? This bus is going to Palestine?”
also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xz3ZOoYSMuw …. second 31.
The West Bank was exactly the place I did NOT want to be going.
Surprised, yet not utterly shocked by my circumstance, I was both intrigued and a bit afraid of what was coming next. People had warned me not to visit Palestine. I had been curious, but satisfied most of that curiosity a few weeks earlier when I’d volunteered in Rotem, an Israeli “eco-village” just inside the West Bank border in the North.
It had looked like this,
and I didn’t cross any military checkpoints to get there except for at the entrance to the village. Not like this one…
…this was different. I was definitely going to Palestine this time, although I had intended otherwise. My directions had gotten lost in translation, literally, so instead of crossing back into Israel from the North, I was at the Allenby Bridge, the only entrance Palestinians can use to access their own country. Oh sweet baby Jesus.
Remaining calm, I began to speak with some of the other passengers on the bus. Amongst them was Hanan, a beautiful woman I had noticed earlier carrying a US passport. Turns out she was on her way to Palestine to visit her parents and plant olive trees in an act of defiance against Israeli settlers.
I was intrigued. Everything I had learned up to that point was from the pro-Israel perspective. I had, after all, come to Israel via a program called Birthright, which sends young Jews from all over the world to Israel for an all-inclusive, highly insulated, 10-day bus trip to learn about Judaism. I was one of only two people (out of forty) that opted to stay longer, hence my current predicament–lost and alone on a bus, accidentally heading to Palestine.
Through a long journey that involved a goat boy love triangle, immortals, farming, the Red Sea, and then crossing into Jordan on a whim, I had somehow gotten myself on a bus with Hanan, headed straight for Palestine.
Was this a cosmic thing, or mere coincidence? I know not, but I sure know a lot more now, having had this experience. And I am grateful, for to leave Israel without seeing the Wall from the other side is to leave without understanding the country at all.