The day was hot. We boarded a bus outside the old city Damascus gate in Jerusalem and headed to Bethlehem. Waiting attentively, I watched as people boarded the small bus and get off once again. By the time we reached the West bank border, there was only myself, Shaun and another girl (blond, likely a tourist). The bus pulled up and we emerged into the glaring Israel sun, meters from the barricade. Looking around anxiously, I asked the blond girl if she knew where to go. Shrugging she introduced herself as Margot and we discovered we had a mutual acquaintance. Margot mentioned that she was from Switzerland and that she also aspired to journalism.
The three of us watched as buses rumbled past as a woman gestured us toward a door, opening to reveal a concrete passage that immediately took a sharp turn right. Shaun led the way and we walked for a few moments before reaching an open area caged by a chain link fence and sharp, twisted barbed wire. I distinctively recall a single yellow rose, in bloom, growing through the parched soil on the opposite side. Perhaps a desperate attempt to make the border crossing seem less like a cattle corral. I think that rose could be representative of the beauty and generosity that we would later experience within the confines of the wall in Bethlehem.
Army officials stood at attention with smug expressions as the sun formed beads of sweat on their furrowed brows. We entered another gate, again adorned with barbed wire, into the concrete slab structure that was before us. Inside the walls were glaringly white. It was a labrinth of closed doors, metal detectors and x-ray machines. Besides a few men lingering at the other side as they completed the rigorous process of exiting the compound, and the few soldiers about the place was empty. It was silent and possessed an asylum-like quality. We flashed our passports, which were not even open, to a bored looking man in the booth and continued on. Winding our way through more concrete hallways, under red flashing lights, through another chain link fence and metal enclosure we emerged into a barren parking lot.
-Over and out, Delilah