Arabs are known for their hospitality, and indeed, when traveling in the Middle East it is often striking how well a foreigner is treated generally. Since Palestine is not the ordinary Middle East country, I was curious to see if the Palestinian people would live up to the fame of their Arab brothers elsewhere. Already in the shared taxi taking us from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, we were treated well, and the Palestinians took care of us reaching our final destination in the holy city. From then on, we had one striking experience after the other. Even the tourist shop owners in Bethlehem were friendly and not too imposing.
During our visit, we found out that despite the dubious role Western countries have played in this country for the last decades, Palestinians were treating us like their best friends. They always smiled, were polite and went out of their way to help us out or show us the way, they were honest and never tried to cheat us. When sitting on a square, they came out to offer us something to eat. They took genuine interest in and care for us. We also found out that many have a very decent command of English, which made communication all the easier. While visiting less obvious places in the country, people were curious more than anything else. Curious to talk to us, to hear where we were from, to ask us how we liked their country, and, in general, just to practice their English.
You can easily see similarities with Arabs in other countries: Palestinians play the same games, centuries-old favourite backgammon and cards, have similar dishes like falafel, even though they obviously have their local specialties, and the men like to while away time in a coffee house smoking a nargilah or water pipe. It is when you reach a military checkpoint or see posters of martyrs on the walls that you realize you are not in just any Middle East country. Especially with this background in mind, the cheerfulness of the Palestinian people is remarkable where you, as a visitor, ask yourself how you would or could survive in their circumstances, which often are not easy at all.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Palestinians (Palestinian Territories). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Palestinians.
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