Being a British woman has its perks.
After a mild round of questionning at King Hussein Bridge (a crossing from Jordan to Israel), I am permitted to pass through the third checkpoint of the Israeli border. But the men I am crossing with aren't so lucky. I wait with them, dubious of what lays behind the border.An hour passes – their bags and passports are taken away.
Another hour passes, and a round of intrusive questioning takes place – they are made to wait.
‘I will hang on‘ I say. ‘It can't be much longer.'
Three hours later, we are still there.
I have my passport, I have my bags, I have my stamp – there is nothing stopping me from leaving this border and venturing outside, but I am caught up in this game of mental endurance. I now have a vested interest amd want to see my new-found friends get through.
The security officer comes over again, wearing tight black jeans and a crisp white shirt.
‘What is the name of your grandad?‘ she asks.
‘My grandad is dead,‘ one replies.
They look weary, tired, deflated almost. Yet they remain calm, knowing that if they were to crack under the pressure, they would be giving them exactly what they want – a refusal stamp to their country. I am intrigued.
Others sit and we all chat. We laugh and share stories, stuck in an ironic reality. It's now 5pm and over 6 hours have passed since we left Jordan, but we remain in no-mans land. The guys without their bags, their passports and their freedom.
‘Go,‘ they tell me.
But I'm scared. I have been sat here too long to venture out alone.
They force me to leave.
I go through, unsure of what lies on the other side. But this isn't the end. There are still two more checkpoints and the lady who stamped my passport 5 hours ago, looks at me in confusion. I am no longer scared or quivering from her questions.
‘Why?‘ she asks
I shrug my shoulders. ‘My friends,' I reply.
She nods in recognition of my comradarie.
‘Enjoy,‘ she says and allows me through for the second time that day. She refuses the person behind me and they are made to sit and wait, only yards away from the exit into Israel. I come through the other side – into Israel and get a bus to Jerusalem.
Three hours later I recieve an email from my friends – they are through and together we have survived one of the toughest ever border crossings.
N.b Some countries disallow entry if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport, (e.g Lebanon). Ask at the border for them not to stamp your passport. I had my entry stamped on a card instead.
I travelled to Israel as a solo female. If you're looking to travel alone to Israel, there's lots of advice to help you plan your trip on the Girl about the Globe website.