Travel diary, day 1 of 14
It always fascinates me that we can wake up in a known place and fall asleep just a few hours later in a completely different one, or even do the opposite. Generally, I associate that idea to air-related transportation, because said fascination is inevitably greater when the different place is in fact a whole other country, and planes are what I most often use to cross borders.
Today was another story. To begin with, there was no certainty the crossing would be successful: we had all heard narratives of seemingly nonsensical rejections, of nine-hour waits, of uncomfortable questioning resulting in a variety of endings; despite our privileged nationalities, skin colour and perfectly innocent intentions, we had no guarantee over how they would be interpreted by security officers.
الحمد لله، alas, everything went fine 🙂 After 70 kilometres, six hours, six passport controls of which one overlooked by a hanging construction worker, two taxis and two buses, no less than 40 dinars, a wonderful picnic in the sun and conjectures over how high-schoolish the majority of above-mentioned security officers looked (as in, super young as well as pretty relaxed schooltrip style! Seriously!!)… here we were: a Muslim, a Christian and a Jew (at least by descent) in AlQuds, Yerushalayim, the Holy City. Three confused and excited Arabic students wandering around without a care in the world – which felt extremely good. Three Western girls allowed where our Jordanian friends, for the most part, are not – which felt and keeps feeling very wrong.
Jerusalem is no Amman, you don’t need more than a glance to learn that. While I will forever hold the latter very dear, I do appreciate cleanliness in the streets, an even sidewalk, lower decibels, far fewer smokers, the existence of trams and efficient city maps. The infrastructure. The greenery. The sense of ease in the street in daylight, twilight and starlight alike. Not having to actively ignore the unwanted attentions of random guys. Stuff that I had gotten so used to, in the past 102 days, that I honestly didn’t even remember there were alternatives.
If Jerusalem were a child, I feel that it would be a serious little girl with tidy long hair, a dark mid-lenght skirt and elegant yet dusty shoes. She would be exceptionally gifted, politely welcoming behind her nightmarish alphabet, effortlessly stylish in her manners, surprisingly artsy with a particular love for colours and melancholic music. Her favourite winter drink would be warm sahlab with coconut, cinnamon and pistachios. She would walk on her own at a steady yet tranquil pace, uninterested in anything but her own secret goals, shining such a beautiful mysterious inner light that people would love her despite her established distance from them. Her name would be אולי oolai, “maybe”. And she wouldn’t let strangers get to know her without asking them for something in exchange.
We’ll try to conquer her with our adorable humour 😉
See my other pics here (they’re not too ugly, I promise!!)
Food of the day: breadsticks with hummus; churros and apple cider; rice, lentils and cauliflower.