Thursday, December 13, 2018

Tel Aviv to Aqaba

Paul and I are now travelling after having spent a couple of quiet days in Tel Aviv. 

Day before yesterday  we traveled from Tel Aviv to Aqaba in Jordan. We were really pleased we weren't having to negotiate crossing the border ourselves as both sets of border control were very finicky.... and I didn't even have my camera in sight!

First up Richard drove up to the stop sign in Eliat, Israel. He was told to reverse about a car length back to the line on the road. There he had to open the boot of the car. With their car you simply press a button near the boot, you don't open from inside the vehicle. I went to open it. The customs agent was, 'You need to get back in the car. The driver must open the boot.' 

Took about half an hour to get through the four offices needed for processing our documents and then pass out of Israel and then almost an hour to go through Jordan's side. Between the two crossings you have two huge wire fences, like you see around prisons in movies, with barbed wire at the top and a  river of sand about 20m wide. I asked the Jordanian guards about the fence and they said it runs along the entire Israeli border but is wider in some places.

The crossings are just a series of small rooms in a couple of long weatherboard buildings, think of the old colonial buildings you would have seen in movies of Africa. Paul and I are yet to acclimatise as we were wandering around in our lightweight trousers and summer tops while everyone else, including Richard & Hilde were wearing jumpers. Temperature was about 14 to 16 ... their winter and everyone wears jumpers in winter 🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️

We were very lucky that there was no one in front of us in the queue and that Richard & Hilde had a diplomatic car otherwise we would also have needed to change the car plates over and their documents would have taken longer to process. Seems as though the Israelis are so disliked in Jordan that cars with Israeli plates are quite likely to be vandalised. Their plates are diplomatic and don't state which country they are from.

One funny thing at the crossing was that quite a number of tourists fly in to Eliat, catch a cab to the border crossing, walk through the two checkpoints and then catch a cab on the Jordanian side. There were about ten or more cabs waiting for walkers when we passed through. There were probably 30ppl being processed by the time we left and they were all walkers. Someone said they fly into Eliat as the cheap airlines do an £80 return ticket from the UK. Eliat looked like a dump so I can understand why they went to Jordan.

The scenery is amazing. I will send some photos when we find decent internet .... Possibly tomorrow night but if not, then after we return to Tel Aviv. 

Travelling to Eliat we traveled through their equivalent of the Grand Canyon but in desert form. As I said to Paul it looks like an atomic bomb was detonated wiping out all vegetation. Next you had a number of years of winds blowing away the loose soil. Leaving barren rock as far as the eye can see. Many of the formations remind me of the majestic fjords of Norway, just without the vegetation or water. Very dramatic and awe inspiring. 

Unlike our previous trips here we have seen very few towns since leaving Tel Aviv. Two max over five hours of driving and one of those is the border crossing. We've seen a fair number of beduoin groups. That would be a very hard life. 

Richard said they are quite ingenious ... need to be to survive. We have seen NO water sources whilst travelling. All the river beds look like they haven't seen water in centuries ... Oh apart from when it floods will explain that later. Anyway the beduoin would dig a number of huge holes before the wet season ... that's when it floods ... They put large stones/rocks into the holes. The first rains fill the holes with dirty water. The rocks are removed and I assume the dirty water is also. When the next rains come the holes are again filled but this time the water is clean. These holes provide the beduoin with water until the next wet season. I assume they can't travel far as they need to return to the holes. Unfortunately as the government wanted to clear them out at one stage the military was dumping old cars into these wells .... they must have been huge. 

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