05/15/2013 04:02 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

My Tasty First Hour in Palestine

Leaving Israel I took a cab to the Security Barrier, then walked through the lonely no man's land, which reminded me of the US-Mexico border between San Diego and Tijuana. Once across, I hopped into one of the many Palestinian cabs waiting on the Arab side of the wall for the quick ride into downtown Bethlehem. Jerusalem and Bethlehem are just minutes apart... except for the nasty border.

I checked into my Dar Annadwa guesthouse (run by the Lutheran Church and a great place to call home in Bethlehem) and within minutes met two of the three guides I'd hired for my week in Palestine (Hassam Jubran and Kamal Mukarker). Organizing my time in advance was tough because I couldn't really know just how complicated getting around would be.

Hassam and Kamal took me to a tourist-friendly restaurant called "The Tent." It posted a "families only" sign so they could turn away rowdy young men. I guess we looked harmless enough as they let us right in.

We sat down and an impressive array of Palestinian plates appeared. We enjoyed a great meal, and planned our itinerary. The Palestinian beer, Taybeh, was excellent. And I think I laughed more in my first two hours in the West Bank than I did in the entire past week.