Three countries in eight hours – Eilat, Israel

Once we got to the Taba border, it was a gong show. There was no real order and several large tour groups tried to muscle their way to the front of the tightly packed mob. others began to get upset hollering angry threats and I realized I wanted out of this fray as quickly as possible. We finally got stamped an walked the 2 minutes to the Israel border control which was a bit more orderly with metal corrals and fans blowing cool air. This quelled tempers for the most part except for a few screaming kids and one very large old man whom I was sure would give himself a heart attack.

when I finally made it to the front, the official began questioning me about my name, my heritage and my travel plans. Then he started hitting on me! This went on for a good ten minutes and I became acutely aware of the hundreds of eyes boring into my back. After all, he was the only person on duty and the line was not getting any shorter. Finally he gave up and stamped my passport somewhat reluctantly. He tried to make me promise I would come back. I told him I would have to since I was traveling by boat from Egypt. This was not the answer he wanted to hear but he smiled and sent me on my way.

I was surprised to find a wifi connection while I waited for the others to catch up so we could catch a cab together. The ride was a short 10 minutes and 60 shekels in a cool sweet smelling taxi with a friendly driver. We all peered out the windows at the modern clean city of Eilat which was just experiencing sunset.

We experienced some real issues with currency and credit cards while trying to pay our fees. My Gods there were lots of fees this day! I guess that is what you get when you traverse three countries in 8 hours. My strong advice is to make sure you have sufficient pounds, shekels and dinars because they are not interchangeable and bank machines are rare at these crossings. You may try your credit card but that may not work, as my Spanish friends found out the hard way. finally we got through all the stamps, checkpoints, interrogations and queues.

We took a 10 dinar taxi ride to Aqaba where I was shocked to find Alena still waiting. She was meant to meet me early in the afternoon and it was now almost 8pm. What a trooper! I thanked her profusely and she assured me it was no problem. She even arranged for my hardy travel buddies to get to their destination.

happily we all shared a taxi out towards wadi rum. We munched on spring rolls and chocolates and sipped pop as we realized we hadn’t eaten most of the day. The almost full moon was beaming in the sky and my mood was much lighter than I would have expected after having endured such a gauntlet of red tape.

Grateful for patience.

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