After a smooth, uneventful flight we found ourselves in warmth and bright sunshine, a much appreciated change from the weather at home and in NYC. Immigration took a long time; we were glad we were at the front of the line. Your passport doesn't get stamped here in case that stamp could cause you problems if you want to visit neighboring countries. Instead we got a little blue paper, which we must try not to lose since it will be our ticket out at the end. We used it like a subway ticket to go through a gate to the baggage hall. As the gates opened our photos were taken. Big Brother is everywhere these days. By then our bags were twirling around the carousel, always a welcome sight at this point in a trip.
Outside we looked for the man with the sign for our hotel who was to bring us to Ramallah. When you are exhausted and bleary eyed from flying ten hours, you want to see him right away. We did not. This transfer from the airport to the hotel was difficult to arrange. Taxi drivers are happy to take you anywhere in Israel, but our hotel is in Palestine. You need a special license plate to cross that border, which most people don't have. We'd read that the border crossing can be a time consuming hassle as well.
We finally found our driver who claimed to have been there all along and drove rapidly for about an hour on empty roads on a Sunday morning covering almost the whole width of this small country. The view outside was dry and dusty. tI reminded us of Tucson without the cactus. The border crossing ended up being nothing, but once in Palestine, cleanliness and items in good repair pretty much disappeared. Signs were in Arabic only. It would be hard to travel on our own here. The hotel is a big exception. Our room is four times the size of the one we had in Manhattan, modern and well lit. It took Ken half an hour to scroll through all the TV channels available, but of course few were in English.
After a long nap, we spent our first shekels at Hardy's, one of a number of fast food places nearby with signs we recognize. Once the rest of our fellow travelers arrive and the tour begins, we'll be eating much higher on the hog.