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Published: June 12th 2017
Geo: 32.0452, 34.7697
I believe our taxi from the gate to the runway took almost as long as the actual flight. Total time of the flight was 18 minutes from wheels up to wheels down. They only flew at an altitude of 8,000 feet and the fasten seat belt was never turned off. I still find it hard to believe that you can fly between the two countries, so needless to say, I'd never done it before. Every time I'd traveled between Israel and Jordan before had been as part of a diplomatic courier run. A car would shuttle us from the Embassy in Amman down to the Allenby (King Hussein) Bridge. We'd walk across the bridge with our pouch, clear the Israeli security gauntlet, and then a car from the former Consulate in East Jerusalem would shuttle us up to the city. The consulate is now gone, following the peace treaty, and from the plane it was very easy to trace our route. We flew right over the green of the Jordan Valley, across no-man's land, and then the settlements of the West Bank were clearly visible. In no time, the Mediterranean sea was in view. The plane took a wide
bank over the beaches and we landed at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. In contrast to Jordan, where we had been the lone moving airplane, this airport was bustling, with dozens of planes from all over moving around the tarmacs.
As we disembarked, I started to "prepare" Anna for the security. When visiting from Jordan before, I'd always had a diplomatic pouch, and I remember having to literally swat away the hands of border guards who would check the seal on the pouch and seek to search my bags, though they weren't allowed. When I visited in 1988, during college, I remember the onslaught of questions, as well as a border guard squeezing out all of my toothpaste before my flight out. With that in my memory, I prepared for battle. We entered the immigration control area, where several hundred people stood in line. There were dozens of windows in operation, so despite the crowds and time they were taking with each, it moved fairly quickly. It was soon our turn. Aside from confirming who we were, why we were there, and when we were leaving, it was very quick and efficient. He presented each of us with a
credit-card size slip of paper which had our pictures, personal information, and a bar code. We turned a corner and encountered a bank of turnstyles, similar to what you'd see at an amusement park or stadium. We each had to scan our little card, which opened the gate and -- voila -- we were in Israel.
As we waited for our luggage, I took advantage of the wifi, quickly checked my e-mail, and was very pleased to find one from my boss, advising me that I'd been promoted. Evidently the director had tried to call and advise me, but as my phone didn't work in Jordan and we'd been out of complete contact in Wadi Rum, they couldn't reach me. He gave me the cryptic confirmation, which was a very nice surprise and which helped set the mood for a celebratory dinner later than night.
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