I was in the first of three buses with Shadia, who it had been decided was the best person to negotiate with the guards. Since our Palestinian adult leaders couldn't come with us it was just foreigners and lots and lots of children. We held our breath as we approached the first checkpoint. We were prepared to try another if we were not allowed through.
By the grace of God, it took us no longer than three minutes to get through. There was no searching and no questioning. We were just asked whether we had arranged the visit ahead of time, and with an affirmative answer that we had an invitation from the zoo all three buses passed through with no problem.
When we got to the zoo, we were met with other people connected to our organization, who were ready to help with the kids. Each leader had six excited children in their group. Most of us know little Arabic, but with lots of "yalla" (let's go) being shouted we managed to communicate with the children. I quickly fell in love with my six -- five boys and one girl between 6 and 12 years old.
|This is my group! :-)|
Here are some pictures from the day at the zoo:
|The kids excited to go!|
|The kids were so funny taking pictures of everything with their cell phones.|
|The boys loved getting close to the beautiful tropical birds.|
|The Jerusalem zoo is really cool. We were just feet from this leopard.|
|Enamored with the animals.|
|This is what everyone looked like on the way back to Hebron. I was trying to keep them seated, and it was like a hammer head game but the second one kid sat down five stood up!|