Day trip to Bethlehem Palestine
Dates: September 17, 2016
Route: Walked via Rachel's crossing Israeli checkpoint
After spending two days in Jerusalem, we had pre-planned to go to Palestine on Saturday which is Shabbat day. Everything shuts down on Friday sundown till Saturday sundown (Make sure you don’t land during this time as its difficult to even get a taxi to your hotel). We thought it will be best to visit Bethlehem then.
Early morning after our breakfast we drove for 9.1 km on Hebron road to this dingy border area where we parked as we could not take our car across the border. We parked at a ramshackle parking lot and found 2 taxi drivers coaxing us to use their service. When we insisted on walking they warned us that’s it’s not safe there and we will be dead. What can I say fear runs this world including tourism ;-)
Frankly we didn’t feel unsafe at all and we always go by how we feel so we went straight ahead; It looked like a narrow walk with barbed wires around where cattle go through before slaughter.
There wasn’t a soul around except for cameras looking at our excited smiling faces and then we saw some irritated Israeli soldier who looked at us and & asked us why we wanted to go there.
We got out in less than 10 min and saw the poor side of Palestine. We walked all along the wall at leisure clicking pictures, while being watched by the cameras all the time.
The wall makes you introspect and wonder why do we even have to be so territorial like animals.Why not learn to share and love. Would love to see a borderless world.
It was interesting to watch the tourists who came in taxis or private cars just step out for a picture and hop back in hurry, as if a gun fire or fight any moment. They were looking at us in astonishment while we walked. Sadly they have no clue what they have missed.
After our walk we made our way to Manger Square where the Church of the Nativity stands. It’s one of the oldest churches in the world and was built above the cave where, according to the Bible, Jesus was born. The church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is beautiful. The church is shared by Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Armenian Apostolic authorities and all 3 share the grotto underneath which has been honored as the site of Jesus’ birth since the Second Century. It brought smiles when we heard some locals saying Namaste and high fiving us. They are equally warm people just like anywhere in the world but looks like they intentionally tried to enjoy more of life and laugh.
We took a taxi and went to see the remaining Banksy art across the city and headed back to the border crossing
Glad we showed our boots to fear and walked for that’s the only way to feel the place and catch the fleeting emotions of everything around.
I would encourage all our readers to walk across this border area its safe and if need be take a taxi on the Palestine side you get plenty when you step across. Much cheaper plus gives them tourist money as well.