Sunday, October 5, 2008

Border crossing

Crossing the border on foot from Egypt into Israel is something everyone should experience once -- and only once.

Yesterday we tried to catch a bus from Dahab (our coral reef resort hangout) to the border. But since the bus only runs once a day (which you have to GO to the bus station to discover), our plans were waylaid for an extra 24 hours.

We caught the bus to the border this morning, but had to bribe the bus driver to take us to the actual border, instead of dropping us off at the central bus station. He demanded an extra 5 Egyptian Pounds from each passanger, under the table.

I got off the bus desperate to change my tampon. I was leaking blood everywhere; my pants were stained deep red from the bus ride.

Unfortuantely, the nearest bathroom was across the border, and a long line of Korean tourists were standing in the way.

With a determined look on my face, I jumped ahead of all of them in line, knocking mothers and little kids out of my path. I did this not just once but twice, through two security checkpoints. I darted into the dirtiest bathroom I've ever seen -- far worse than anything in Nepal -- and took care of business.

We exited Egypt and walked to the Israeli enterance, where my passport was flagged because it shows that I was born in Nepal. Security called for backup, and soon three people stated questioning me:

When did you move to America?
Why didn't your parents just keep their jobs in Nepal, insted of moving?
What do each of your parents do for work?
What are your parents names?
What did you study in college?
What part-time jobs did you have during college?
How are you paying for this trip?

I found the questioning utterly pointless, given that they have no way of verifying my answers.

And so on. In total, security detained me for more than an hour, suspicious of my ties to Nepal. I don't think they believed me when I claimed that I no longer have a Nepalese passport.

Finally across the border, we caught a bus to Eilat, where we're waiting to take the 1 a.m. bus to Tel Aviv. In total, we'll be in transit for about 24 hours.

Welcome to World Tour, Country #2.