Our last day in Israel was a drive to the Allenby Bridge to return to Jordan. Things went smoothly until we arrived. First, the Jordanian bus was an hour late, mirroring our arrival in Israel. Second, the exit tax was higher than anticipated (I was misinformed). Aside from a little wait in the terminal things went smoothly and we were met by Salim, the driver we had for the first four days, and , a retired guide who entertained us with vaguely inaccurate versions of the story of Moses and several nominally funny jokes.
We got back to the Jerusalem Inn by 1PM, so we walked down to a Jordanian mall not far from our hotel. There was a McDonald’s and a few other fast food type restaurants in the food court. I had a Sbarro style pizza, although many opted for the American-style hamburger. It is always enlightening to go into a mall in another country. You see things that are familiar, but still not quite right. I was amazed at the number of trendy stores in Jordan, including several Victoria’s Secret knock-offs. This is a window into the struggle between the young Arab who has seen the West and envies it and the traditional who has seen the West and hates it for destroying his culture.
Several of us went to the Wireless Café for coffee and free wireless. I caught up on the last few blog posts I missed while in Jerusalem and enjoyed my last Turkish coffee. I also enjoyed watching a couple share a hookah for the better part of an hour. A young man and woman shared the smoke, both frequently checking their phones, but rarely talking. Again, East meets West.
The flight back to Chicago was long and I was unable to sleep much. We left at 10AM Amman time and arrived at 4PM Chicago time, back to Grand Rapids by 10PM. With the time change, this made for an incredibly long day. I tried to get up fairly early and get into a normal routine on Tuesday, but that just did not happen. I plan on revising the blog posts for the whole trip (spell check on an iPad is suspect, and there are several weird word-replacements I see I need to fix), and I plan on updating the pictures to higher resolutions. I will also move the whole trip to its own page so people can read the days in order.
All things considered, this was an excellent trip. My first time will always be the best, but I think I enjoy traveling to Israel more each time. My fellow-travelers were wonderful, I enjoyed their company and we all got along quite well. I am already looking forward to January 2012 for the GBC/GGF tour and May of 2013 for the next GBC Student tour.