Things have been great. I’m in a steady relationship with a boy that I’m pretty sure I’m in love with. In an exciting twist he feels the same and we have managed to come up with a ‘plan’. The ultimate in relationship speak.
We met in London. He a charming, green eyed South American type and me, a recently certified English teacher; yet another career changer by recession. It was love at first underwear sighting. I bent over to pick up a marker and he lost track of which tense we were learning.
After spending a year brushing up on his English he moved abroad. In accordance with the ‘plan’, I would continue teaching until he found himself a job after which I would join him in what was sure to be the start of something wonderful.
Seeing as I had a few months left to sow whatever was left of my wild oats, I decided to try and do something I’d been thinking about for years. Going to Palestine and doing something – anything – of value.
An NGO advertising temporary teaching positions in Nablus caught my eye and a few emails and one phone interview later – I was in.
But ‘in’ is such a deceptively simple word isn’t it? Israel reserves the right to deny entry to whomever they choose and as an Arab holding a western passport there is no guarantee that I will actually make it ‘in’ at all.
The roads to Palestine are rocky to say the least. There are a number of options available and none of them guarantee you anything but face time with a customs official who may have had a bad morning.
At the moment it’s a choice between flying in to Tel Aviv or crossing from Jordan via the King Hussein Bridge. Most travel forums advise against saying you are entering the Palestinian Territories to do volounteer work. They recommend posing as a tourist visiting Israel, presenting a plausible itinerary and hoping the customs official is in a good mood or too bored to poke holes in your story.
The fear is that if you waver in your story even a little you may arouse suspicion and be denied entry on the basis of being generally sketchy. Now I’m not a good liar at the best of times. Last month I brought in what was potentially slightly more than the allowed number of cigarettes into the UK and nearly had an asthma attack while walking through customs. My throat immediately closed up and my eyes took on a crazed unblinking stare as I staggered, oxygen deprived, past uniformed officers who, frankly, couldn’t have given me less attention if I was invisible.
So... I don’t think the lying thing's gonna work for me.