Before and During my Time in Palestine

IMG_2761“Before and During my Time in Palestine : I had lived two months in Jordan a few years ago to study Arabic, and had done some research on Palestine before coming, but there were some things that still surprised me. One of the biggest things that still surprises me is travel around Palestine. When I first traveled to Hebron, I did so by the Jewish bus company, which I now know was a mistake. I was dropped off on the Israeli side, where there were no taxis, then had to walk to the Palestinian side with my luggage in tow, where there were also no taxis. Somehow I found a ride and had to stop at some place that had internet so I could look up the address to the Excellence Center.

But it’s not just that experience, it’s every travel experience. I am still constantly surprised at the separated bus and taxi services for Israelis and Palestinians, and the time it takes for each to reach their destinations. I visited Nablus and Jenin, cities up in the north, and I would love to visit them again, but I probably wouldn’t because of the route I’m forced to take and how long that takes. First you have to go to Ramallah, which takes about two to three hours depending on traffic, and then you can go to Nablus, which is about one hour away. I don’t know if you can get to Nablus directly using a private taxi rather than a shared taxi, but it will definitely be twice as much, if not triple the price of a shared taxi. I also am not sure if you can’t get to and from Nablus directly by a lot of places, not just Hebron, because of terrain or checkpoints. Overall though, travel is pretty cheap and simple, for example, a shared taxi to Bethlehem only cost nine shekels which is about $2.50 and you can find the shared taxis all over the city.

The other big surprise was how intensely Palestinians react to foreigners. Of course it’s not all bad nor all good, but surprising all the same. They watch American/ Western movies and TV shows, but there is still a visible and audible shocked reaction to you walking down the street. Mostly it’s people yelling “Hello!! How are you?!!” or “You are welcome!!” However, ladies you will probably get the occasional derogatory words thrown at you

Overall though, the people here are very friendly and eager to help you. One of my friends volunteering here needed to go to an area that wasn’t so nice, and a shopkeeper we visited every day sent his sons with her to help her and make her feel safe. Basically, Palestine is not all unicorns and rainbows, but neither is it the demonized and dangerous place portrayed in the media, it’s like every other place in the world, some good and some bad.” Jennifer from the USA who is doing an internship in Palestine