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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Two buses and why it's good to travel

I like taking public transportation when I travel.  It can be a bit intimidating and as I get older it's always enticing to "just call a cab."  But so far I still force myself to "ride the bus."  Why?  Because you get to see, hear and participate in the life of the locals.  You get beyond being a tourist and experience the place in a whole different way. 
The unmarked bus stop.  Where I'm staying on
the hill above.

Here in Jerusalem you have two buses to choose from.  The Egged or Jewish bus that connects you to Jewish things and the Arab bus that connects you to Arab places.  I know, it doesn't make any sense to us as Americans; but that's just how it is.  Today I grabbed the Arab bus on the Hebron road right near where I'm staying.  The bus stop wasn't marked, but I had some good intel!  After waiting a few minutes the 234 bus to the Old City appeared.   The driver seemed a bit perplexed on whether he should pull over for this old bearded white guy on the side of the road--luckily he did. 

I got on and it was the stereotypical reality that you almost couldn't believe.  The first passenger was an older gentlemen in full Arab head scarf and dress, then several ladies in very traditional attire, and finally some more western dressed folks toward the back.  Maybe they weren't but it seemed like everyone was staring at me.  Every seat had someone in it, with the exception of a few double seats that only had one person in them.  I decided to stand.  No reason to force my big sweaty and perhaps unwelcome body next to anyone. 
Young man carrying bread from the Old
city to local shops.  walking up from
the Damascus gate.  I got the bus home
from across the street.

As the bus began to pull out, a big hand fell upon my shoulder.  The man who was reaching from his seat, looked at me and said: "Sit, sit!"  So I hoped next to one of my fellow pilgrims in life and sat and listened to conversations I couldn't understand, smiled when folks laughed and basically laughed at my own fears and insecurities.  I liked the people on bus 234.  Thanks for the hospitality.




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