Information for Participants

How to be a good guest?

Simple courtesy, warmth and friendliness will help you be a good guest in almost all situations. Much of what follows will be instinctive to most of you, but one or two ground rules are helpful, as there are particular norms of behavior specific to this culture.

 

  • You must remove your shoes immediately before entering any mosque – there is always a clear threshold that indicates the border between the sacred space and the ordinary world.
  • Muslims will always step into the mosque with the right foot first. If giving or receiving a gift, or any food, Muslims will always do so with the right hand. When eating with the hands, the right hand should bring the food to the mouth.
  • Men should not try to shake hands with a woman unless the woman takes the initiative. Likewise, women should not reach out to shake hands with a man unless he has first extended his own hand. In place of a handshake, you can place your right hand over your heart and perhaps incline your head in an almost imperceptible bow as you exchange greetings
  • You should remove your shoes before entering a family home or any private indoor space. When sitting on the floor you should try not to show the soles of your feet, or at least not to point them directly towards anyone, as this may be considered offensive.
  • In a group situation, it would be courteous to greet the oldest and most respected person in the group first, to defer to them when they are speaking, and to make them the primary, though not the exclusive, focus of your attention when you are speaking.
  • A 21st century piece of etiquette….remember to turn off your cell phone in any sacred space.
  • If you are traveling with a spouse or partner, be aware that any public or tactile display of affection may cause offence.
  • Don’t be too effusive in your admiration of anyone’s clothes, watch, jewelry, or home furnishings – they will give it to you!
  • In informal situations, be prepared for people to ask all kinds of questions about you – such as how many children you have, for example. You might want to bring some pictures of your family, which always goes down well.
  • It is polite to ask before taking photographs of local people, especially in rural settings.

 

To read our Responsible Tourism Policy - click here 

 

Introductions and Greetings

We are sure to be very warmly welcomed throughout this journey. Your simple greetings and thanks spoken in Arabic will be much appreciated and help build trust and connection.

The standard words of greeting are Assalaamu alaykoom, which means “peace be upon you.” This works in any situation, formal or informal.

The proper response is wa alaykoom assalaam. If you can’t remember this, then simply salaam (peace) would be fine either as a greeting or in response.

The other word that everybody should know is shukran – thank you.

A phrase that you will often hear is “Ahlan Wa Sahlan” – which literally translated means “family and ease.” It is used as the mantra of welcome throughout the region, and would be well rendered into English as “relax and make yourself at home in my country/town/house/ shop etc.”

The proper response to this is “Ahlan Feek”, or “Ahlan Feeki” if speaking to a woman. You could also say “Ahlayn”, which means something like “and a double ahlan back to you.”

Clothing

In general, clothing should be modest and not revealing. Shorts and sleeveless shirts are not acceptable. Should you have any questions, please ask!

Men

  • Long slacks are necessary. Denim jeans are acceptable if they are not very low-waisted (revealing), though you may find them hot for summer weather. No shorts. You will notice that local men will almost always wear nice trousers, long sleeved shirts and polished shoes.
  • Short sleeve shirts are fine, although long sleeves can be helpful as protection against the sun. No sleeveless shirts or t-shirts with potentially offensive pictures or words.

Women

  • In order to interact in this context with a high degree of mutual respect, women will probably have to go to greater lengths to adjust their normal style of dress.
  • All clothes should be opaque and loose fitting.
  • When visiting villages, sleeves should be long or ¾ length, with no revealing necklines.
  • For other parts of the trip, you may wear short sleeve shirts, although long sleeves can be helpful as protection against the sun. No sleeveless shirts or t-shirts with potentially offensive pictures or words.
  • Long slacks are necessary. Denim jeans are acceptable if they are not very low-waisted (revealing), though you may find them hot for summer weather. No shorts or skirts.
  • Women should bring a scarf that can be used as a head covering when visiting mosques.

Health

The following health information is for general guidance only. You should contact a professional health advisor prior to travel.

Immunizations

There are no mandatory immunizations to enter the country, but it is recommended that you are up to date with immunizations against hepatitis A, polio, tetanus, tuberculosis and typhoid fever.

Rabies is present but rare. The risk of encountering an infected animal on a mainly urban journey such as this is slight, but a vaccine is available if you are concerned about this.

All participants should have valid health insurance before they travel. Check your current insurance policy, and ask your agent about the need for additional coverage to cover emergencies such as medical evacuation.

The following websites all provide information about travelers’ health issues:

  • www.cdc.gov
  • www.masta-travel-health.com
  • www.medicineplanet.com
  • www.istm.org

Medications

You can find pharmacies in the West Bank but nonetheless we recommend you bring the following medications, often helpful:

  • Antihistamine (for mild allergic reactions)
  • Pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen
  • Disinfectant for scrapes or cuts
  • Your favorite remedies for stomach upset.

The most common health problem likely to be encountered while traveling is a bout of travelers’ diarrhea. Take care with food and water hygiene (drink bottled water rather than tap water). Avoid high-risk foods such as salads, shellfish, raw/undercooked meat and fish and unpasteurised dairy products. Bottled water will be available.

If you do get diarrhea, drink several liters of fluids every day to avoid dehydration. Oral rehydration solutions in sachets help to minimize the debilitating effects of dehydration. Continue to eat if hungry but avoid fatty foods.

You may wish to consider taking a treatment pack with you containing an anti-diarrhea agent such as loperamide. These can be useful if you absolutely must travel, though instant recourse to drugs is not always the best option as they paralyze the body’s ability to rid you of the infection.

Some treatment packs also contain an antibiotic such as ciprofloxacin. Most cases of travelers’ diarrhea are self-limiting to 3-4 days. A single dose of 500 mg ciproflaxin can often reduce this to one day (a prescription is needed).

The climate

The Palestinian climate is Mediterranean and often sunny. The days are warm but nights can be chilly.

Mean temperatures during July:

 

Celsius Fahrenheit

Jerusalem: 15/30 59/86

Jericho: 24/37 75/99

Bethlehem: 14/31 57/88

Nablus: 15/30 59/86

 

The sun is intense here and the risk of sunburn is high. It is recommended you wear long sleeves and a hat, and that you drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Bring sunscreen with a high protection rating and apply it often.

 

Currency

The currency in both Israel and the West Bank is the shekel. In July of 2010, 1 euro was worth about 4.94 shekels; 1 dollar about 3.80 shekels.

 

The dollar and the Euro may also be used for some payments.

It is best to exchange your money in major cities, or use an ATM. Debit cards may have lower fees for cash withdrawals. Please talk to your bank/credit card vendors regarding overseas usage, and also notify them of your dates of travel so that they do not put a hold on your account. Do not rely only on credit/debit cards; bring some cash with you. ATM’s are not always available, and if you have difficulties withdrawing from the ATM, you will have nothing to fall back on. Make sure keep your passport, credit cards and cash in a secure place and always have it with you.

 

Time

The West Bank is located in zone GMT +2.

 

Electricity

The electrical current is usually 220. The sockets are round as in Europe. Bring a plug converter, which you can find at your local travel store or online.

 

Telecommunications

For information on dialing international phone numbers, please see: http://www.kropla.com/dialcode.htm

Your cell phone may or may not work abroad. If it does, calls may be very expensive. Please contact your service provider for more information. If your phone is unlocked, you may buy a SIM card in Palestine. You may also rent international mobile phones or buy a phone card and call from public phones.

 

  • Calls from Abroad to Palestine: Call 009720 + 7-digit phone number
  • Calls from Abroad to Israel: Call 009722 + 7-digit phone number

 

It is rare to find internet cafes in the villages, but there will be internet access in the hotels in Jerusalem and in some home stays in Bethlehem.

The post offices are generally open until 2:00.

 

Essentials Packing List

  • Small day pack to carry essentials (water, jacket, sunscreen, camera etc). You will not be backpacking during the hiking portion – there will be a support van to carry your luggage.
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Journal/notebook & pens
  • Book to read (be careful not to bring a lot of heavy books; you may regret it!)
  • A hat which adequately protects your head, face and neck from direct sun.
  • Scarf for women
  • Footwear: good walking/hiking shoes. Sandals can provide a nice alternative when you are not hiking.
  • Natural fibers for most clothes.
  • Easy care/washable hiking pants or travel shirts (such as REI or Ex-Officio brand). It is useful to be able to wash them by hand and have them dry quickly.
  • A warm layer for evenings (lightweight jacket or pullover)
  • Sunglasses
  • High factor sunscreen, lip salve with sunscreen
  • Toilet paper
  • Hand sanitizer gel
  • Small flashlight
  • Plug adaptors for electrical devices (found in travel stores or online). You will generally not need currency converters unless you are using an electrical device that is not dual voltage.

 

Packing tip

Pack light! You will regret heavy luggage after moving from place to place. Learn to live with less. Bring clothing that you can easily wash and wear repeatedly. You may also need room in your luggage to bring back gifts and souvenirs.

 

In case of Emergency

Please contact:

  • Michael Awad, Executive Director:

00970-599-2627027 - 00972-522-884979

  • George Rishmawi, Coordinator:

00970-599-180872 - 00972-522-502097

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