From the bus station on the west side of Jerusalem we walked along the Old Yaffa road. A modern street, lined with clothing shops and split in the middle by a tram line. Things slowly started to look different from here, hinting at the ongoing dispute between the Israel and Palestine. Everywhere soldiers were walking around with big machine guns, guarding every street corner. It was a strange sight!
Some "undercover" photo's
After the Old Yaffa road we reached the walls surrounding the old city of Jerusalem. It felt like being transported a few centuries back in time. Inside those walls lies the old city and the big streets gave way to a labyrinth of small intertwining streets.
A market on the way to the old city
The wall surrounding the old city and a gate into it
Somewhere in that labyrinth we had to find the Old Hebron Hostel, which was hidden in there. Miraculously we managed to find it quite quickly with the help of our map! It was not the best hostel but the location definitely made up for it! We were in the middle of old Jerusalem and see surrounded by a plethora of little shops, one next to the other, selling street food and souvenirs. They sold anything from pictures of Holy Maria to tavla (backgammon) and chess boards.
Two churches can be seen from the roof of our hostel A small alley in the old city
Jerusalem lies on the border between Israel and Palestine and because of its importance to three major religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism) it has a great mix of different people: Arabs, Jews, Christians and Armenians. Some people make it sound that the people here live together peacefully and it is an example of a multi religious community. But the presence of the many security people with their machine guns and the talks about riots now and then made it somehow hard to believe.
We walked around the old town, turning left and right randomly, until we got lost. We walked on Via Dolorosa, on which Jesus supposedly carried his cross. We went to the Wailing Wall where dozens of Jews where praying, reading the Torah and putting little papers between the cracks of the Wall. And we played football with some little kids next to one of the many churches.
The Western Wall or Wailing Wall, a holy place for Jews
Jews put prayers in the cracks of the Wailing Wall
To get close to the wall, it is required to wear a kippah
A picture of Jesus in one of the churches
Playing football with some Arab kids
Later that day Tomas' friend Jan arrived. He was working in Hebron as an English teacher. Jan brought Monica and Elisabeth, an American and an English woman. All three of them were also working for ISM, the International Solidarity Movement, at the time. This organization supports the Palestinians by documenting anything related to the conflict.
We had a nice dinner together during which Jan, Monica and Elisabeth talked a lot about what they had been experiencing the last couple of months. This is the moment when I really started to learn about what was happening here and how absurd some of these stories were. The more I heard, the more I understood why there was a conflict, but the less I understood why it was happening in this way.
The next day we took a taxi to Hebron or Al-Khalil (الخليل), located in the West Bank. We were about to enter Palestinian territory. We were both very excited!
The first obstacle of reaching Palestine: trying to start the taxi