Yitzhak Rabin Border Crossing | Israel to Jordan!

by - 12:54 AM

It is my sixth day in the Middle East, and I'm no longer in Israel!

My mom and I decided to take the more adventurous route out of Eilat, Israel. Without the help of any tours, we crossed on our own at the Yitzhak Rabin Border into the country of Jordan. It had a totally different vibe the moment we stepped into Jordanian territory. The customs officers were smoking in the security luggage check room, the computers dated back to the 90s, and there was a general air of disorganisation. I also noticed immediately the different dress code for women. In Israel, most secular families and young people are free to dress however they like. However, in Jordan, most if not all women and young ladies have to wear head scarves or black chadors – I’ve also seen some who are clad in black burqas. It is quite hard for me to comprehend precisely how they handle the sweltering summer temperatures that often soar to forty degrees!

In Jordan, I found that every man appears to be an avid smoker. It appears to be part of the culture of the land. I am not sure, but everywhere I go, I am bound to see someone light up a cigarette!

The border crossing was no trouble at all, thankfully. I was quite worried that it would take a long time, or that it would be difficult to do it without a tour group. But it was a breeze! Exiting the Israeli side was very straightforward and organised, we just had to go from counter to counter (exit tax, passport control and customs security). Then we had to walk a stretch of no man’s land with our luggage before entering the Jordanian side. Compared to Israel, Jordanian security seems totally slack – they appeared to be bored. 

Anyhow, after a good wait for our taxi, we got to Aqaba, the sea-side town of Jordan, opposite the shores of Eilat. And like I said, I was immediately struck by the stark difference between the two countries even though they were only beside each other. The town of Aqaba was a complete contrast to the town of Eilat. Eilat was a lot more developed, with huge hotels, an impressive marina and beach area with beach umbrellas, restaurants and bars. Aqaba lacked all these things, and I think it is largely in part to the culture being intertwined with religion – which affects the way of life, the style of clothing, and with it all its restrictions and non-Western ways. Most women and young girls only showed their hands and face. Also, the architecture was very plain, bare and closed-up – small square or rectangular windows, sand-stone coloured walls, and gated buildings. 

It felt very strange to have a complete change of atmosphere. I felt quite self-consciously that I wasn’t all ‘covered up’! But I did make sure that I wore long baggy pants and a loose top with sleeves. It is interesting how the culture of a particular society can create a unique kind of pressure to conform, or in better terms, to be respectful of what every one else accepts to be the right thing to do or be. I do believe in being respectful and conscious of the traditions and dress codes of a country different to mine. It will help you make friends with the locals with greater ease, as they can pick up immediately that you respect and honor their ways. I have since seen a great many people – mostly Westerners or Europeans – who walk around with short shorts (like seriously?) and spaghetti tank tops. It’s just plain foolishness because it just doesn’t reflect well of a person and it draws unnecessary attention – which can be unpleasant or even dangerous sometimes. And it seems quite clear to me that these same people have no interest whatsoever in getting to know the people of the land and thanking the locals for being kind enough to accept them into their country.

There is so much more to travel than just having your own good time. I believe there is a huge responsibility on travellers to be respectful of the culture and to also show that they care about the people and the country they are visiting. It doesn’t always have to be overt, in the form of befriending locals or talking with them – but you can show it in many different ways! 

I will be heading for the Bedouin desert territory of Wadi Rum, about two hours from Aqaba. Stay tuned for more stories about my adventures in Jordan!

You May Also Like

0 thoughts