Monday, February 21, 2011

The Happy Hitchhiker

Because we are generally car-less, if I need to get to Jerusalem on a Saturday when there is no public transportation, I hitchhike from Ma'aleh Adumim to town.  It takes anywhere from about 5 minutes to an hour to find someone kind enough to take me with them. 

Both Hubby and I had a Cinderella weekend. We went to the Ball (a friend's wedding in Jaffa); and what a joy it was being able to dress up and get into a car, instead of taking a bus from the central bus station in our evening attire.  On Friday, we bought our one-of-a-kind tiles in a city over an hour's drive from Jerusalem, and saw friends we hadn't seen in 3 years.  We crammed everything we could cram into that weekend, focusing on stuff we can't do by public transportation.  So grateful to God were we, that we wanted to give back.

Saturday morning on the way to Ramah's Kitchen, where we had our dream brunch at a place which is accessible only by car, we saw someone hitchhiking - a middle-aged man - at the French Hill junction that also borders on some Arab neighborhoods.  I told my old man to stop and take the hitchhiker.  After all, I know what it's like to need a ride on a Saturday.  We stopped a bit further down the road and the man couldn't see us.  We had to back up and honked until he turned around and saw us.  He made his way to our car.  I told Hubby -

"This guy's an Arab.  I hope he'll feel safe enough to drive with Jews". 

Knowing that we each have the same fears about the other, it was certainly a fact that the hitchhiker may not feel totally comfortable taking a ride with  Jews. 
But we were in a rental car and he must have thought we were tourists.  We spoke English to him.  He needed to get to Abu Ghosh where he works in one of the many restaurants.  He was so grateful to have gotten a ride, he immediately invited us for coffee at his place.

"We'll take you up on it another time." said my husband.

"!  Today!" insisted the rider.

Maybe...we told him.  We're going to Nataf to have brunch.

He was curious about us.  Where were we from?  How long have we lived here?  Do I have friends in the West Bank?  Are we Israeli?

I told him that I'm a coordinator of an interfaith group that meets in my home.  He looked confused.  Such groups really exist?

"What do you think about the peace?" he asked. 

He agreed with me that most people living here want peace, and want to live together in harmony - but that the governments on both sides fuck it up. Hubby gave the guy his business card to keep in touch.

We dropped the happy hitchhiker off at his restaurant and continued on to ours.

"He's probably telling everyone in the restaurant about his ride." said Hubby.

"Yeah, you're right.  But what if he tells his wife when he gets home that he was picked up by two Israeli Jews from Maaleh Adumim.  How do you think she'll react?  'Sufyan....are you CRAZY?  Taking a ride with Jewish settlers???  They could have killed you!!!'

It would have certainly been the same reaction I'd have gotten from some of my family/friends, had I hitched a ride with him.


Judy said...

Deb - you are NUTS! You didn't know if this Arab was a dangerous one or not! Look at what just happened to that reporter in Egypt! You can't just trust that all people are good!

timx said...

So glad you are still here! I used to read your blog 5 years ago, but got distracted; I only just found you again!

Tash said...

Oh, this is a cool post! Love your honest freedom! Ha!
I have stumbled upon your blog today, looking for some personal accounts of living in Jerusalem, after it came up as an International placement idea for me at your tone and stories! Thanks for sharing!

jerusalemgypsy said...

Tash, thanks for your comment. You won't have a boring moment here, I can promise you this. Take up the offer and study here!