Thursday, 1 December 2011

Chapter 92 Getting around

Tube shmube and urban planning patooie.

There is nowhere easier to get around than the West Bank.

I know - hugely unexpected and yet, bizarrely, totally true. 

A stream of share taxis (servees) and buses shuttle constantly - seriously, all the time - between the major West Bank cities, neighboring villages and checkpoints bordering with Israel.

It couldn't be easier to navigate either.

And set schedule? Set smedule my friend. 

Rock up to the servees station at any time of day armed with nothing but the name of your destination. Hysterically shout it out to any one of the men lounging around, smoking and chatting.

Make your way over to the second man to whom the first man has hollered about you to. Get into the servees second man directs you to.

Stew in your own uncertainty as you wait for six other people to show up.

As other people scramble on, frantically try to listen in on their conversations to try to ascertain if you are going to end up in some backwater chicken farm instead of Ramallah.

Say nothing, buckle your seat belt and start trying to calculate how much time out of your day will be wasted if you do, in fact, end up on said chicken farm and have to negotiate a way back.

After about 30 minutes, your  fellow passengers will begin passing money forward to the driver. Follow suit.

Servees drivers are able to make change, calculate how many passengers have yet to pay, pass change back to passengers all while driving way too fast and overtaking sheep carrying trucks on an unmarked, one lane, two way road.

Arrive in Ramallah.

Go get a drink. Now you're a pro.

Quick, painless and really quite affordable. The one hour journey from Nablus to Ramallah by servees costs 17 shekels (just under $5).

So, if you're planning a visit - don't waste any money on cabs. There is nothing easier than getting around in the West Bank.

A corner of the Nablus servees station

The yellow servees cars fit 7 people and come and go as soon as they're full

The buses at the other end of the station


  1. Wow, a detailed explanation of our daily life, thanks for being so honest in it, I love your writing style. :-)

  2. Thanks so much for the comment! I never cease to be thankful for how easy it is to get places. Way easier than anywhere else I've been. It's great especially because there's so much to see so the accessibility really makes a difference.

  3. Ammouni always makes me take servees in Beirut, much against my 'take me to the Hilton' inclinations.

    The best ever was a guy who had his rear bumper stored in the boot and an engine that sounded like an angry Tasmanian devil threshing around in a tub full of broken xylophones.

  4. haha... how classically Beirut!

    When you come here you will absolutely love taking serveeses. Although I definitely find you learn more about a country talking to a cab driver than anywhere else.