Every time somebody asks me about this big adventure that started almost two years ago, after me saying the list of countries I have been through, and knowing that in the vast majority of them hitchhiking has been the only transport that I have used, all end up asking me the same question: “Palestine, dude? Are you crazy?”.
Followed by “So, tell me tell me… How was it!?”.
So here you have our experience report of hitchhiking in Palestine, which we had the pleasure of visiting in May 2015.
The experience in numbers
- – Kilometers covered: 220 km
– Number of vehicles: 15
– Days on the road: 4
- – Average distance / car: 14,6 km
– Average distance / day: 55 km
How we lived it
As you can see in the numbers, we did not have too much time for Palestine, since in Jordan we visited some friends and ended up spending more days there, so we had less for Palestine. You will also see that, unlike the other hitchhiking reports, in this country I do not have the total time in minutes that we spent waiting for a lift, because at that time I still did not measure it. Still, waiting times were really short, less than 5 minutes per car, even if we were hitchhiking also inside of towns and cities!
That said, we can start by saying that the infrastructures and cars that you will find in there are not the best at all, but since the country is really small, it will not take too long to go from one place to another.
In our case, the people who picked us up treated us so, so good. As we usually do, and more when arriving at a new country, we always made clear when we stopped a car that we did not want a taxi, but to go with them in case we were heading in the same direction. And they got even offended saying that they just wanted to help and that they did not expect any kind of economic exchange.
During the journeys, they always ended up asking us the same things and they were basically what the hell we were doing there, what we thought about Palestine and if the locals were behaving good with us. You will see that they are very happy to see that you are interested in their homeland and they love that you have a good opinion about it and its inhabitants.
More than once, and although you say no out of politeness, you will end up invited to their homes, to meet their families and to have a coffee or even to eat! It is very funny because, as a tourist attraction, you will see that the neighbors will come, will greet you, take photos with you and even ask if they can add you on Facebook.
Leaving aside the younger population, the vast majority of people, and more when you leave big cities, cannot speak English. But they really, really try. And as you know, this is usually enough to understand each other.
Before arriving in Palestine, we had been reading online about it and it said that since hitchhiking is not a common practice for them, when leaving the big cities it was advisable to take buses. But the truth is that we never needed it. From the shortest to the longest journey, we always did it hitching and without any kind of problem.
Finally, you will see that they will not want to enter into any type of political discussion. Instead of talking about how they live or , they will prefer to tell you anything, as in my case that they love Football Club Barcelona and Messi, knowing that I am from here.
When you travel through Palestine or want to cross Israel or Jordan, you should know that you will always find Israeli military, who will ask what you do, where you are going, and If they consider it appropriate, they will hold you.
For starters, when crossing from Israel to Palestine, you will see that there is a checkpoint. Normally, people do not even get out of the car, they just check the documentation of the drivers and the companions and they let them pass. If you go hitchiking, and even more with a Palestinian car, they will most likely drop you before crossing the border and pick you up after having already passed it, to avoid problems.
In order to cross the same checkpoint but in the opposite direction, from Palestine to Israel, they usually stop all the cars and check a lot more at what is carried in the car, why you are entering Israel, etc. So here for sure they will drop you just when you get to the border, so you can pass it walking.
When you travel through the West Bank, you will also find Israeli military controls sometimes. In this case, usually you will not even have to leave the car. But most probably the soldier on duty will ask you a few questions about what you do in a Palestinian car, how you know each other and where you go.
If you want to go faster, you can use the roads only for settlers. We were told that being only for them, and having way better cars, we could cross the country much faster. We did not use them because to begin with, we had already been hitchhiking with locals in Israel, and because the fact that the color of your license plate allows you or denies you the access to a road, sincerely seemed to us a racist behavior.
When do we go back?
In short, that the experience could not have been better. It was only few days on the road but very intense. And it goes without saying that we were always safe, well taken care of and never felt in danger.
To finish and summarize the experience, to hitchhike in Palestine is to take two hours to make a journey of half an hour. And you will ask again if it is because of the long waits on the road or because the cars go very slow, but no, it’s because people will not stop coming to you, to ask you things, to take pictures or just to sit next to you and smile. So if you’re the kind of person who loves spending time with locals, you know what to do during your trip to Palestine!