Sunday, 18 March 2012

Chapter 111 Running

Visas. Practically currency in the West Bank.

A 20 year old, wearing boredom in her holster and two years of compulsory khaki, determines your fate with youthful carelessness. She occupies, is militarized and questions your presence at her window. 

Best case scenario? Jackpot – life in three month installments... each ending with a nail biting cliff hanger and no clues as to what the next season will bring. 
“When’s your next visa run?”
“December – do you think I’ll have any problems?”
“I shouldn’t think so, you’ve only done one before. What are you going to tell them?”
“The truth.”
“Always the best thing. They know, you know. Also make sure there’s nothing incriminating if they Google you.”
“I will. Did you hear about Mike? He only got a month this time and Claire only got two weeks!”
“Two weeks? Seriously? Why?”
“They don’t like the NGO she works for.”
“Damn, what’re you gonna do in two weeks. What’s she going to do?”
“She’s not sure. Maybe go home for a couple months and try again.”

Wasta – The Arab version of an inside connection – might get you the expensive working visa that allows you access to the West Bank and Israel. 
Oh and, that’s single entry by the way. It’s extra if you want a multi entry. Better sit tight and give up on the idea of seeing your friends and family again until your work in Palestine is done. Didn’t you know, beggars can’t be choosers?

Forget about Gaza, that’s a whole other molasses pool of tangled bureaucracy.

The stakes are high are they not?

The entire process sands you down.

Crossing the border is a misleading term. People never just ‘cross’ the border. People beg, lie, plead and crawl their way across the border.

You inch across that border.

Two steps forward and one step back. 10 minutes of questioning for every two hours that you spend on a metal bench, staring at your feet wondering where you will sleep that night.

Hour after hour strip layer upon layer of empathy, understanding and tolerance.

The one certainty you have is that, regardless of the outcome, it will be humiliating and destructive.  

An extended volunteer visa. Source


  1. i dont understand.. the visa states that it is for 20 days.. why doesnt it say that in english or was that part removed in the photo editing..

  2. The standard tourist visa is three months, however border control can decide to give you as much or little as they want within that time.