A Journey to the Holy Lands

We managed to avoid the travelers’ diarrhea until today, the morning we set out for Jerusalem. A nasty little bug is having a hay day. The twins were restless all night with stomach pains and Emma wakes up complaining of dizziness, the vomiting starts shortly after. My husband has been making comical dashes to the toilet for the last 24 hours. I seem to be ok for now. A driver is taking us to the Israeli border. The road zig zags down the hillside and while I’m nursing a puking 10-year-old in the back seat I succumb to car sickness . This is the sometimes miserable side of family travel, it seems equal parts wonder and frustration. Travel abroad is a test of patience and determination. We are tested now at the border crossing into Israel. If it was just me and my American kids this would be easier, but my husband and his mother are Palestinian. His family had to flee their land in 1948 when it was handed over to Israel. They became refugees and settled in Jordan. This little fact, despite how long it’s been, makes it very difficult for them to enter. While we wait in the holding pen we meet another Palestinian. He was driven off his lands in Java in ’48 and became a refugee in the West Bank, one of the only 2 remaining slivers of Palestinian settlements, Ghaza of course being the second. During the second occupation in the mid 60’s, when Israel took over and occupied these two states, his family fled and ended up in San Fransisco. This is his pilgrimage to his homeland, he makes it through the Jordanian side with no problems and he boards the bus to the Israeli customs building, we wish him luck and hope he gets in without a long interrogation. We hear a dozen similar stories from refugees scattered across the globe, Spain , Canada, Italy etc. We, on the other hand, miss the first bus as they are insisting on having my mother in laws Jordanian passport even though she is now a U.S. Citizen with a U.S. Passport. We sit and wait while a family member digs up her old passport and makes the 90-minute drive to deliver it to us. I give in to my bucking boy’s demands and let him crawl around on the filthy floor. His feet are gray with filth and his pants are destroyed. Emma is coming around as she sips on a 7up. There is a no smoking sign, but like most other prohibitive signs in Jordan, it’s total bullshit that everyone ignores, so it’s either the second-hand smoke in the air conditioned room or the sweltering heat. All 4 kids fall asleep, we wait some more. Finally, we are ushered into

the bus where we wait another half hour. I watch a lizard scaling the wall. The bus finally departs and we are stopped twice on the 10-minute ride for passport checks before we are welcomed into Israel by the young military members and their big guns. We head through the customs maze where are passports are examined 3 more times. They hold Khaled and his mom back, we wait some more. It’s Jerusalem or bust, so I’ll catch you up on the other side!

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