Scooters and Fat Chicks……

Ok, at least not the fat chicks. For all those that are groaning right now… when have you ever known me to be PC??? Seriously though, a bit of catch up is in order. So here goes: I left off right before I headed over to Israel from Petra. That was an extremely fun day (I need a sarcasm key here). We got up at 6:00 to catch a 7:00 am taxi to the border crossing. The drive through Jordan was actually pretty cool though. A lot of small villages on the way and the decent into the lowest point on Earth was really neat with a bunch of old semi trucks dotting the bottom of the ravines from the winding roads, no guard rail, and the awesome penchant of the Middle East to pass on a blind curve. Anyway, we stopped by the dead sea for about an hour and a half before we headed to the border.Let me tell you, that was an absolutely amazing feeling. The pictures that you see of people literally sitting on top of the water with feet up reading a newspaper are real. I would have thought they were doctored or something, but not so. You get in and I could not submerge myself any more than neck level when I tried to hop up out of the water and plunge down. I guess that was good though as it is pretty toxic to drink, and not the most pleasant thing to get into your eyes. The water actually felt slimy from all the salt in it. Like a very think sugar solution where you boil the water and load it up with massive amounts for sweet-sweet tea. Or rock candy making. Anyway, I taught a Pakistani man (a logistician with Doctors without Borders) how to float after one unfortunate dunking on his part. Ended up getting into a discussion on Pakistan-India which led to the Iraq/Afghanistan. I know, you are all shocked that I would get into a political discussion (FTH-SAB). Anyway, after I was tired of just bobbing we took off for the border crossing at Al Hussein bridge about 10 miles west of Jerusalem. Yeah, I crossed at the West Bank, but the Israeli’s there kept telling me it wasn’t the West Bank when they were questioning me if I was planning on going there, and I responded “Isn’t this it??” So in order to get in there, you head to the Jordanian side, get your baggage X-Rayed in the arrival building, then head over to the departure building to get your exit stamp (5 Dinar, or ~$8) and bus ticket to Israel (3 Dinar). You then hop on a bus because the taxi’s cannot drive you to the Israeli border, and head the 500 yards to the border crossing through what looks like a Desert version of the DMZ. Two passport checks on the way there and then you pull up to the Israeli customs station. Men and women in jeans and T-shirts with Uzi’s, M-16’s, and vintage 1980’s Aviator sunglasses. No Pictures… From there you wait on the bus for about 20 minutes until they are ready for you when you hop off and hand your baggage over for X-Ray again hand-checking. You proceed inside to go through the metal detector and X-Ray for hand luggage where the metal detector picks up the smallest piece of metal on you. One woman held up the line for about 5 minutes because she didn’t want to uncover her head and take out the metal barrette in her hair, or couldn’t figure out that was what kept setting it off. Technology is not the Middle East’s strongest point. I had a hell of a time getting them to hand check my film going through here, but with a little whining, creative story-telling, and flirting with some Israeli women, I managed. Anyway once you are through that point, you go through a machine which you step into, small slats close behind and in front of you, and it announces “Jets will start momentarily…” at which point I was like “What the……..” You are then blasted with jets of air, which was a bit unexpected, and I am still not really sure what the heck was going on. There were a couple theories running around from de-lousing to bomb sniffing. Whatever, it was a bit of a shock. Anyway, then on to the passport stamp. “Why are you coming to Israel?” “Tourism.” “Where are you going?” “Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, maybe Haifa and Elat.” “Do you know where you are staying there?” “Yes.” “Let me see your reservations.” “They are on the internet.” “How do you know where you are going then?” “It’s right across from Damascas gate.” “What is the name of the Hotel?” “I don’t remember.” “How long are you going to be in Israel?” “Maybe 10 days.” “You don’t have a return ticket?” “I am planning on leaving via Elat back to Egypt.” Anyway, you get the picture about the questioning. Now add to that it was an extremely pretty young woman grilling me, and the picture will be complete. After about 20 minutes when she finally stamped my passport (so long Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Oman, Saudi….. but no big loss I think) she softened a bit telling me “Tel Aviv is the best city” and nodding me to the right. Apparently that was the easy questioning as some people were directed back to sit and wait for a more thorough session. So then it was the line to see if you baggage survived the interrogation process. You would hop in a line and slowly move to the front to be told that your bags were not ready yet (comforting), and to head to the back to repeat the process. Luckily it only took me one repeat to make it through. So, a grand total of about 2-3 hours getting in, and I was on the relatively fast track. Just for planning purposes if anyone is planning on crossing from Jordan to Israel anytime soon.

Jerusalem now. Absolutely amazing. Unfortunately I didn’t take a lot of digital pictures (and can’t upload now anyway), so not much to show until I get my film developed in Germany. However, the Via de la Rose is pretty heavy to walk, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was absolutely… I can’t even think of word to describe the feeling. You walk in and there is the slab that Jesus was supposedly prepared for burial on. Even if it isn’t the actual one, seeing what holds the possibility of, I don’t know, touching the greatest man in history (even in you are not Christian), and the Son of God if you are, is more than amazing. I highly recommend spending time there if you go, and just stopping to listen a bit. They also had the burial tomb of Jesus, complete with an Orthodox priest who was more than a bit pushy. I think that may be his full time job, because I was there twice and he was there both times. Anyway, the Old city was great. You have to figure out which quarter you can go to to eat on which days, and what foods you can get where. Friday the Mulsim Quarter is quiet, Saturday it is the Jewish Quarter, and Sunday the Armenian and Christian Quarters. The Dome on the Rock is only open to non-Muslims on Monday-Thursday from 7:00-11:00 in the morning, and apparently the only entrance is by the wailing wall, so it took three attempts to see this before I finally got in. Saying that, it was a really nice and quiet area, but you are not allowed to go inside the Dome nor the Mosque if you are not Muslim, so sort of anti-climatic.

After 5 days in Jerusalem, I hopped a one hour bus to Tel Aviv for three days of fun in the sun and relaxing on the beach. Nothing really to see in Tel Aviv other than the beaches so I spent most of the time just hanging out. After three days I hopped a flight to Rhodes, Greece, home of the Ancient Colossus, which isn’t there anymore. Been here for 3 days, and getting ready to leave on a ferry tonight (1:00 am) for Santorini. I have rented a scooter, which is the only way to see the Greek islands I think, and been mopeding all over. Went down to a place called the “7 Springs” named conveniently enough for the 7 springs that start there, and hiked through at 200 yard tunnel about 5 feet tall and 1.5 feet wide to get to a nice little glade with a waterfall and a lot of other neat stuff, not to mention Peacocks flying overhead and wandering around. Also went to Lindos which is a “typical Greek town” on the water with a large castle overlooking a blue lagoon. That is not even mentioning the Old City of Rhodes which is the most well preserved medieval town in the world (or at least that is what they say.)

Anyway, that is pretty much up to date. I need to put up some lessons learned, to use a Navy colloquialism, but I think those are going to have to wait a bit. I still have 7 hours of valuable moped time to explore a bit more, and I want to catch the sunset on the west side of Rhodes.

 Hope everyone is doing well, with the exception of Hillary Clinton’s campaign that is.

Oh and to answer a few more questions:

Pat – the Berkas are not as prevalent as I would have thought. Egypt maybe 5% of the women where in full traditional dress with face/and hands covered. About 65% had the robe with head covering, and the remaining 30% or so were wearing Jeans or pants with a blouse type thing and head covering. Jordan was a bit more skewed towards the traditional, and in Jerusalem I actually saw local women with no head covering. Wow. 

Mike – I have met a couple women. The Russians are fun to talk to because I can practice Russian, and they are almost all extremely pretty. The Arab women a bit less approachable… go figure. Israeli women are extremely approachable, but also extremely money oriented. I have actually had the most fun hanging out with a couple Aussies and New Zelanders, and the occasional American girl I find running around.  

Taylor – Schwarma sucks.

-JC

13 Responses to “Scooters and Fat Chicks……”

  1. Katie says:

    No Pictures?! BOO!!! I understand though if you can’t upload them. I can’t believe how crazy the process is getting around in the middle east…I wish you could have taken pictures of the guys with guns and aviators hahaha. Glad to hear you could ‘flirt’ your way out of a long interrogation process….DORK!

    I absolutely LOVE my boot, btw….I have them both on display in my kitchen (out of reach, where clumsy Katie won’t be able to knock them over). I was wondering, did you want me to keep the box you sent them in? Or maybe just the bubble wrap? Let me know just in case you need me to send it back to you in VA or something.

    I can’t believe how time is flying…August is approaching quickly…! On one hand, I can’t wait to see you and look at aaaaaaall of your amazing pictures and hear more stories, but I hate to have you come back to the boring US after all these amazing adventures!!!

    Nothing much is going on here…same old same old with work and life…the only big thing is that I’m gonna get a Roth IRA! I talked to Pat about it, and I’m getting the money together, and hopefully it will all happen soon and I can really start making some good investments for the future! I’m such a nerdy adult now.

    Anywho, I love you and I miss you! XOXOXO

  2. Mike says:

    Josh,

    OK finally a good babe report. Glad to hear you have surfaced. Looking forward to pics.

    Uncle Mike

  3. Mike says:

    Josh,

    btw Hillary’s campaign is in the tanks. How do you like the sound of President Obama?

    Mike

  4. Katie says:

    Have you ever had Port or Sherry??? Me and John got some at the San Sebastian Winery and we LOVE IT! I think you should try it…I’ll keep some for a toast upon your return. LOVE YOU!

  5. Wells says:

    Collins,

    Glad to see that you finally got a chance to post again… I have to disagree with Katie though, I would of been all over that Israeli Customs Agent. Why didn’t you like name drop to see where it would of gone? Also, you didn’t say if she interviewed you the second time around…. Holding out…. Glad to hear that you made it to Greece and that you are moping around the island. Alright, don’t do anything I would do and have fun. Also, we are adding England to our August trip, at least the big H will pay this tab, can’t wait to get back to London.

    Later,

    Wells

  6. sametpsa@aol.com says:

    OMG!!!!!! Now, I am seriously jealous!!!! I have always wanted to go to Israel..I want to talk to you about it more when you get home..
    I can’t believe they don’t let you in the Dome of the Rock..I want to hear more about the Old City of Jeruselum..The Church of the Holy Sepulchre sounds like it was a profound experience..I want to talk more when you get home..I have been to Rhodes in Greece (a long time ago , 1970) Do they still have Redcina Wine? and that licorice liquor? The Greek men were kinda crazy doing that funny dance in the bars after a few drinks..I still can’t believe how much ground you have covered..and why do you keep saying “we”.. are you traveling with anyone? I loved the story about the Dead Sea.. I’m gonna check it out on the internet..

    Taylor came down with Corinna to visit..He is all grown up!! Corinna has whipped him into shape…

    Josh, I was a little worried about you going back to Egypt..are you flying out of there? Where are you going after that? Are you going to Rome?? We love you..

    Hillary is toast I think, but Obama makes Hillary look conservative…Much more has come out about him and it is far left wing wacko stuff.(IMO) sorry if I offend anyone..

    Most everything is the same… Alex is driving and..she got her belly button pierced..it’s only a hole, right? so I let her rebel a little.. I could not understand why she wanted to do it so badly, she is petrified of needles when she needs a shot.. oh. well, I am too old to have a teenager..
    Love and hugs..

  7. sametpsa@aol.com says:

    Orthodox priest that was pushy?? want to hear more about that story.. Want to hear more about the Old City.. will wait til you get home..
    Pat

  8. Katie says:

    Alex got her belly button pierced?!?!?!?!

    OH MY GOD. This is too weird. I feel really old.

  9. Mike says:

    Pat,
    I hear piercing has sexual conotations. Now I feel old.

    Mike

  10. sametpsa@aol.com says:

    Calm down..the piercing is just a hole that grows back..I have to pick my battles..I lost that one..but I won the one about the tatoo..
    JK

  11. Katie says:

    Yeah, definately NOOOOOOOOO tattoo!!!

  12. Mike says:

    Yea!!!!! definately no Tramp Stamp.

    Uncle Mike

  13. Taylor says:

    Sorry it’s been so long since I logged on. I forgot my log-in and password…so many to keep track of!

    So I don’t get the title of this last post. Are you the fat chick on the scooter?! That’d be a funny sight.

    By the way, I’m watching Senfeld right now…you remind me of Elaine’s boss, Mr. Peterman, with all your worldly travels!

    Sounds like you’ve been having fun. I’d stay away from Israel though…too much hostility there…actually I’d stay away from the middle east altogether! They’re a smelly bunch, their food sucks, and they’re not fond of us infidels…that’s the Brownlie in me coming out…the homebody.

    Anyway, see if you can grab some cheap oil while you’re over there…it went up $11 bucks just today alone…it might be a good investment if you can get some cheap. Gas here in LA is quickly approaching $5 a gallon. Still better than some places in Europe, but still waaaayyyy too much for us selfish SUV driving Americans! I remember the days of stopping in Georgia on the way up to the hutte, and gas was .89 a gallon! What the hell happened?!

    Anyways…I’m looking forward to the friendly European Union stories…get away from the craziness of the sandy armpit!

    Keep the stories coming!

    Not much going on here, Summer’s here…It’s Friday night and I’m on the couch watching Seinfeld…Corinna’s fat (..and I spelled that correctly, she’s phat with an “F”)…life is good! (insert sarcastic key here)

    Taylor

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