Team Talk - Shirley: In Transit


We met at Auckland airport in the wee hours, got ourselves on the first plane and 4hrs later were getting processed by Sydney Customs. Two got through smoothly, my (brand spanking new) passport didn’t work and Ash’s disturbingly flesh-toned theft-proof/travel pouch thingy got left behind. Twice. This didn’t bode well for the coming 24hrs of transit, but kei te pai.

Sydney to Dubai was an epic ride, 14hrs give or take, and it was with much relief that we un-origami’d ourselves out of cattle-class into an airport so damn big we had to catch a train and two buses to get to our final plane. Surprisingly we managed to get through it without incident.

Dubai to Jordan was low-key, navigating customs was pretty straight-forward and tipping the locals for helping to lug your bags was a sharp learning curve – you should’ve seen the brother's face when I gave him a Jordanian twenty for helping us out. You should’ve seen my face about 10min later when I realised I’d tipped the equivalent of $50 to help carry our bags 20m.

We caught taxis to Allenby Bridge, the border crossing between Jordan and Israel, and then it was a bus ride for the crossing itself. We zig-zagged our way through an eerie desert dead-zone filled with barbed wire fencing and gun turrets before being made to wait for over an hour in the blazing heat while we watched pretty much every other vehicle get waved through ahead of us.

Finally it was our turn. We gathered our bags up into a pile and I was delegated the task of organising baggage tickets for our passports. Except where was Ash’s passport? By now it has become blazingly clear that his theft-proof/travel pouch thingy is nothing but trouble. The brother turned an unhealthy shade of grey and made a run for the bus, yelling ‘STOP!!’ as it started to pull out. Things start to go downhill at this point.

About two dozen Israeli soldiers look up and start to yell in Hebrew. Ash thinks they’re going to help and yells back something about his passport while gesturing enthusiastically at the departing bus. Paula, Tamara and I realise the soldiers don’t understand and so we join in with the yelling and gesturing. The tone changes. Time slows. Guns are raised. Fascinatingly, Ash is still running towards the bus and then miraculously the penny drops. He cuts a dejected figure walking back to us.

During the confusion I check my bag again and start laughing. I’ve got his passport. Turns out he’d dropped it on the floor of the bus, I’d picked it up thinking it was mine and 20min later our friend nearly got shot coz I’ve got a crap memory and the Israeli Defence Force are so confused about life in general that they would shoot a white guy running away from the border.

International incident: averted.

Getting processed by Israeli customs was a lesson in patience for this Maori. There was a general air of unconcealed contempt and after about an hour of being casually humiliated and spoken down to we were spat out into the heat and confusion of the late afternoon sun.

Welcome to Israel. Shalom shalom.

Team TalkClea Pettit