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Published: June 22nd 2017
Geo: 32.812, 34.9987
Today is Friday, the Muslim day of prayer. The event is Christian-like in the sense that they have a few hours in the late morning of most importance, and for the most part everyone has the day off. We were able to find a service taxi to the Qalandia checkpoint without much trouble. The checkpoint itself was 3zrd world hilarity at it's best. When you first go in, there are several lines like prison lines where you are basically in a metal cage in a line. From there they let in about 20 people per line at a time (using remotely enabled heavy duty turnstiles) into the second area where you wait in a more open space for another big turnstile. Somehow we got into the line behind a huge pack of really old people (mostly old women) going to Friday prayers. They would only enable the turnstile for several seconds at a time, but instead of efficiently going through, they would all smash up against it trying to fit 2 people at a time, etc. Effectively only one person at a time got through. When finally the most notorious of the old ladies (one eye) was let through,
she spent 10 minutes trying to get through the metal detector, show her papers (all vey much like regular airport security). The crowd with us was yelling at her the whole time and eventually they let one more person through to try to help her through. All the while his is going on, more people are trying to push past us in the crowd. Luckily there was a cool Palestinian from the Bronx, and his friend. Along with Cari, we set up "Gaijin Blockade", a maneuver to block shoving old people hat I often practiced in China. The old ladies shoved pretty hard, but being the tallest person in the room makes a good argument.
The highlight of the day aside, we mini-bussed to Jerusalem, and caught a real bus up to Haifa, port city of the North. Israel is expensive, our latest room is $95 per night for a reasonable private room in a guest house. This is compared to $60 for a room in East Jerusalem and $33 for a room in Ramallah. Israel seems like a first world Jewish country mixed with a more developing world Muslim country. Stay in a Jewish owned place and you'll pay more
for sure, but it'll be a bit cleaner and friendlier. It's the consistent option between the two that I find most interesting.
Anyways, we walked around Haifa a bit and saw the very amazing Bahai Gardens that flow perfectly down the hillside that Haifa (and every other Levant city) is built on. The sabbath starts at sundown, so most things close in the early afternoon here (much like things closing at noon on Saturday back at home). We walked quite a bit more looking for a decent place to eat. After a nice meal we headed on back, gave the desk some laundry, and ended the day.
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