A Perfect Day In All Its Imperfections
Here I sit on the Wadi Araba border, just on the other side of the Yitzhak Rabin crossing, not quite in Jordan and no longer in Israel. We are here now nearly an hour. Why? Well, it turns out that Dad’s Jordan Pass has a problem and since the embassy in Amman is experiencing a power outage the border guards cannot get through to them. This situation, however inconvenient it might seem to others, offers us the gift of getting to know our Jordanian border guards who have a great sense of humour and they do their very best to be entertaining. They are enjoying the opportunity to banter with us and we are learning about each other, free from the formalities of the roles of border-guard and traveler.
“How long must we wait?” we ask.
One of the border guards shrugs. “5 minutes, 10 minutes, an hour, a day, a week, 10 years…”
We all chuckle.
Had there not have been a problem, we might have just played out our roles in polite convention. Instead, we now sit comfortably on the border crossing’s park benches, talking and laughing, the sunny 24C a stark contrast to the bone-chilling wind and early morning grey skies we left behind in Budapest.
However, this situation wasn’t the first of the things that had aligned so perfectly in our day. In fact, this was just one of the long string of events that had risen up to remind us of just how enjoyable the experience of travel can be when you allow yourself the space to take one step at a time and truly savour each and every moment.
It started with coming face to face with all the usual anxieties that we encounter when traveling. We nearly always overpack on the limit of what we are allowed on the normal discount airlines. It is not that we are attached to possessions or things in an overabundant way, it is the simple complication of the location independent traveler… technology. The technology needed to keep our numerous websites, projects and ventures afloat and thriving. These always take up about 6 kilos of a generous 10 kg limit and with our backpacks or carry-on suitcase weighing in at around 2 kg, this leaves you with very limited room to move on clothing or my most important items to pack: Books. But I digress.
In the past, we seemed to sweat it when we got closer to that employee vociferously checking carry-on luggage weights and sizes. Today, we just let it roll, gave it not a second thought, and just as we approached the gate attendant, an elderly man in heated protestations started gathering the attention of everyone. Even though we had one extra bag, and all bar one of them was over the limit of weight allowed, we were quickly and politely ushered through to the gate.
The next dilemma should have also thrown us, save that it didn’t. Even though we were all traveling as a family, in a ploy to get us to pay extra for choosing our seats, our airliner automatically allocated all of us seats in separate rows. We just went with the flow again. As the flight attendant announced that everyone had boarded, not only did we find that we were able to sit together, we were also able to choose the seats of our choice, for not even the cost of an extra thought, let alone the £25 upgrade that most travelers are pressured into. Forward onto Israel.
On arrival to Ovda, a former military base, now a runway in the middle of the desert useful for discount airliners, but 40kms from Eilat, we were due to catch a bus. Having purchased tickets online, we noticed afterwards as we read the fine print, that if we did not confirm our intention to depart at least two hours before the bus’ departure, we would not be able to board the bus or use the ticket. While I will admit that my heart rate did spike there for a minute, Dad assured us not to worry. With 5% left on Lalika’s iPad, the only place that had proof of our purchase, we showed the bus driver our online tickets. He seemed confused, told us that we needed to go to the automat back inside, and then simply decided it would be easier to call the office. Within a minute 4 tickets were issued, saving us having to wait another whole two hours. But wait there’s more!
We arrived in Eilat and discovered that the cost of luggage storage was so ludicrously expensive that we decided on simply just heading straight out to the Jordanian border. Enter at that very moment, from out of the blue, friendly Israeli taxi driver who wanders down the street calling out, “Taxi to the Jordanian Border! Taxi to the Jordanian Border?” and here we are now, that’s how we got here today.
And then, some would say the inevitable hurdle finally appeared…
“Sir, there is something wrong with your Jordan Pass.”
If there was ever a better time to apply the extremely overused quote: “What may seem like a bitter trail is often a blessing in disguise,” it was now.
Most people often class border guards as mindless bureaucrats but if there was ever a better time to come to another cliched conclusion, it was to never judge a book by its cover. It was the most perfect opportunity to make new friends and those Jordanian border guards, who even hilariously signed my book as a token of friendship, gave us the warmest welcome into their beautiful country.
In that one hour of what was meant to be the embodiment of a frustrating obstacle, we were able to see and appreciate the perfection of life, feel its tide and ride its waves all the way from out the very back, into shore.
This seemingly ‘lucky’ perfection was something we all personally reflected on and shared together later that evening as we sat and enjoyed what we can all say was one of the most satisfying evening dinners we have had in a long time. With falafels, hummus, greek salad, eggplant and chickpea rice, Bedouin bread, chips, stuffed grape leaves and olives, it was the most perfect fusion of a Middle Eastern and Mediterranean feast.
As I sit here now however in my bed, my eyes still glowing from a most majestic sunset we witnessed from our hotel’s rooftop, I realise an additional gift. The fact that after a time longer than I can remember, I am writing here again out of pleasure, doing something I feel I am truly called to do, share stories. Indeed, it is the most perfect end to a perfect day and I welcome every single one to come, so perfect in all of their imperfections.