Thursday, January 29, 2009

Jerusalem Map Madness

So, I should just put it out there that I am the worst person with directions... EVER. I have been lost in more cities, in more countries on more continents than ANYONE should be allowed. I really don't know how I have survived this long, considering the amount of traveling I have done. I STILL have troubles once in a while in my home town (population 8000) - let alone major cities in countries where I don't speak the language OR read the script.

So my one saving grace so far has been that I am half decent at reading maps (I say 'half' generously). This has always been my tactic - find a map, orient myself, get lost, ask someone to point to me where I am on the map, get lost again, etc. Eventually I find what I am looking for.. usually.

Well, I have never run across a place QUITE like Jerusalem. Yes, I have a map... and sometimes I even remember the name of the place I am supposed to be going (the words don't really 'stick' since the sounds are still foreign to me)... but find it on a map?! It would seem so easy..

Fortunately, most road signs and maps have names in Hebrew, Arabic, and English, but oh, the horror of TRANSLITERATION - meaning that Hebrew words don't necessarily have a perfect English spelling equivalent, so people have just sounded them out. Take a word like 'Caesarea' for example - when looking on a map or a road sign, it may be 'Qisariyya, Kesarya, Qasarya... etc. (Thanks Lonely Planet for the example) Or maybe the Hebrew word will be used instead of the English one - Yerushalayim instead of Jerusalem.... you get the idea.

So I just got instructions from one of the Rabbis at Rabbis for Human Rights as to how to get to my internship (starting Sunday) - and spent about an hour and a half figuring out what those directions actually meant on the map - and now I have to figure out which buses to take to get there, and which stops to get off at - all while guessing from about 5 or 6 name choices for each of those variables.

Don't get me wrong, its do-able (mainly because I will ask people the whole way and probably call everyone I know once or twice) - but seriously, it is not the most intuitive situation. To make it worse, there is no bus map in English... so its all just word of mouth, the not-so-trusty--non-bus-map, and of course my sense of direction. Oh boy.

1 comment:

Talia Greenblatt said...

Trust me, the number 30 bus will take you to their doorstep in no time... No questions asked. :)