What it’s Like to Walk the Streets of Hebron, Palestine: Like many other parts of Palestinian culture you will find the streets in Hebron differ from most others in Western countries. Here we at the Excellence Center will take some time to lay out some of the differences and offer advice and guidance on how to navigate our busy streets.
The first thing you may notice is the traffic patterns of the cars throughout our streets. Here lanes are more like suggestions, suggestions that are rarely taken. So you may see a street briefly several cars deep horizontally when there is only the marker for one or two lanes. Cars weave and bob amongst themselves and the order you may be used to in your home country does not exist. You may initially be caught off guard or somewhat frightened during your fist taxi ride, but not to worry, everyone here has grown up in this driving system, they are used to it and they know what they are doing. In Palestine the cars are often honking. We have several meanings for when a car beeps. In your country beeping may only be used when angry, however in Palestine due to our hectic streets cars will beep to let other cars or pedestrians know they are coming, like a notification they will be speeding forward. The beeping may sound excessive when walking the streets but it is almost like its own language to our local drivers.
Often people do not walk on the sidewalks but prefer to walk in the street along the outside edge. Of course you are always welcome to walk the sidewalk. However sometimes our foreign volunteers find this to be something of note. When walking in the street keep your eyes out for cars and listen for the beeping notification when a car is coming close to you. Additionally while walking in the street as a foreigner you will get A LOT of attention. At first this may be overwhelming but our current volunteers tell us they get used to this fairly quickly. People will invite you into their shops for tea or coffee. Young students may yell, “Hello!” and ask you where you are from. In general all eyes will be on you. This is because in Hebron we do not get a large amount of foreigners visiting when compared with other places in the Middle East so you will definitely be of note to the locals. Also, cars in general do not stop for pedestrians on their own accord. If you are hesitant to cross the street at the beginning just follow other locals when they choose to walk. After some time you will get the hand of it. You must be assertive yet also calculated when crossing the street so that you make sure you are both able to get where you are going and that you do not get hit.
All of these differences will of course feel foreign when you first arrive but it will not take long for you to get used to the ebb and flow of the streets. Remember if you ever need anything at all you can ask locals on the street and they will be more than happy to help you!