West Bank Close Encounter

One good thing about standing guard in the West Bank, is great views of the sunset.

I recently got back from the West Bank doing a three day adventure. There is a lot to tell, even more photos and videos to show. I’ll just give a bit of an experience/close encounter I had. It really only hit me after the fact as to what could have happened.

It was a dark, but not so stormy night, in the middle of nowhere. That’s the way the roads in the West Bank are. Long stretches of poorly lit roadway that wind around the hills and mountains. I’m sure you can imagine how hard it is to drive along the winding roads while talking on the phone, so the driver of the vehicle I was in, who was doing just that pulled over onto the shoulder in order to talk safely.

–Before I continue, I should probably note that there are two kinds of civilian vehicles within the West Bank, those with yellow license plates, and those with green plates. Yellow are either Jewish or from Israel Proper (in front of the green line), while green indicates Palestinian vehicles from within the West Bank. In addition, I should also say that anything about common courtesy of helping others who look stuck on the side of a road go down the drain in these areas in cases where they don’t have the same plate color as you, and when another plate does stop, you can comfortably bet that it’s not done with the intention of wishing you a good day.–

Random vehicle checkpoints checking green plated vehicles are common in the West Bank

Random vehicle checkpoints are common in the West Bank

While all this was happening, I was sitting right next to the driver, so I saw the entire thing from the front row seats (no pun intended).

A few minutes after the driver pulled over to talk safely, a (green plated) vehicle slowly passed by eyeing our vehicle and the occupants within, and pulled in front almost blocking us from moving forward. The driver in my vehicle realized the potential of the situation before I did and threw down the phone in mid conversation, put the car in gear and sped off as fast as he could. After we passed the other vehicle, I noticed it following very close behind ours, and at a relativity high speed for that distance.
A few meters down the road however, there was a vehicle checkpoint, and being who we were, we passed right threw without batting an eyelash, and the last I saw of the other vehicle was their headlights getting smaller in the distance, and that was that.

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Village Living, the Perks and Jerks

Strangely enough, I can’t think of a good caption for this photo I took of the village donkeys.

I’m sure that many of you who watched some of my Israel Vlog videos noticed that I mentioned a few times that I was in a village. Of course for privacy reasons I never said where or what the name of it was and I’m not about to do that now to respect the privacy of those villagers. What I will delve into though is what it was like living in a village.

The village I was living in wasn’t the smallest village, but probably not the biggest either. I’ve been to new villages where it’s less than 100 people, not families… people. I’ve also been to villages which I think should stop being called a village and start being called a city due to the amount and speed of economic growth and population. None-the less, I would say a rough estimate of the population in my village would be around ~900 families give or take. Keep in mind, most of these families have a lot of kids who also live in the village even after they move out of the house.

This village was known for being picky about who they let live there. There were ways to get around it and “cheat” the system. Nobody really cared as long as you could hold your own and not do anything stupid to make the community look bad. Speaking of community, everyone knows everyone else, and if not directly, they know someone who does. Although there were different sub-communities within the entire village community, everyone was still close per se.

Resource wise, there was the family owned grocery store, the hardware store, a few restaurants, including my favorite that my friends and I liked to call the “Shawarma Shack”, pretty much anything you might need on a daily basis you could get by walking less than half a mile. (Yes, shawarma is needed on a daily basis if you must know.) All owned by people in the village.

Japanese style noodles from the village sushi shop


Job wise, many people worked in the village or in contiguous villages. Some even worked in the big city due to the better job opportunities. That was convenient for this village since Tel Aviv was only seven to ten minutes away by train [video]. Oh, I forgot to mention, conveniently there was a train station in the village. Within the village, many people worked in the schools, stores or even self employed. There were quite a few calligraphers who were self employed.

Every village has it’s village idiot, crazy and misfits, right? This one had a few characters or group of characters who made life sometimes interesting. You had the homeless guy who was only homeless because he wanted to be. A real nice guy. Claims that living in the main communal center with his own little corner freed him of the stress that he could see in everyone else, always worrying about money etc. There was the crazy. Also really friendly and nice, but I could never understand him. He always greeted me with a smile, always a nice thing to see. The misfits, always kicking up a storm. Pretty much what you would expect from kids wanting to just party all night every night. I just would’t get on their bad side. We almost got into a pretty messy fight with some of them, and a friend of mine got jumped by some of them by mistake. Apparently they meant to jump someone else and got mixed up. From what I heard, since the village could’t control them, they just gave them the job of being village security. I’ve heard some interesting stories about that, but it’s for another time.

If someone got sick (G-d forbid), there was a doctor who could make house calls. There was also the village EMS. A little scooter from Magin David Adom [video] puttering around the village whenever it was needed. If need be, an ambulance would be called as well, but I don’t know about the response time since they came from outside the village. I know for a fact that the police take forever to come.

One might think, what else can someone do in a village besides work as a teacher or in the family owned store? Well, going back to some people being self employed, there were quite a few farmers in the village. Some grew crops such as orange trees and other fruits and veggies (yum!), other’s owned and grew livestock such as those two donkeys in the picture above. I loved those donkeys. I would pass them almost every day and they were so friendly, when they didn’t bite you’re hand. I always had to rescue them since they would always tangle themselves up with each other. Anyway–speaking of livestock in particular, there was a goat farmer who could be seen every now and then taking his goats for a walk though the village [video]. You could tell when the goats went through the area since they ate everything, even cars, or at least they tried. There was also a chicken farm, and whoever said roosters crow in the morning is wrong. These roosters crowed whenever they darn well pleased, even in the middle of the night. I could hear them all the way across the village. There was also a honey farm, not much to say about that. I Never ventured into field where he kept the bees. I don’t particularly like being stung. The honey was good though.

To sum up, village life is quite and peaceful. On the outside anyway. There’s internal politics, so-and-so won’t speak to so-and-so, the general qualms that might ensue from community living. It’s nice to know you’re neighbors and everyone in the city. It’s a safe place, kids  play in the streets, etc. For all the bad, there is something doubly as good to overcome that bad.

Anyway, that’s about all I can think of off the top of my head pertaining to village living in a nutshell. Questions, comments appreceated as always. I hope you enjoied traveling with me 🙂

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