Motorcycle Diary

Bassam Almohor

Thursday, 10:00 am.

Israeli policeman standing at the entrance to Ofra Settlement, east of Ramallah, waves for me to pull over. He came slowly with his m-4 rifle, inspected the license plate, then pats on my shoulder: “with all respect, this is great, you wear your helmet, your gloves, your jacket.. this is perfect.”
– so this is a new bike?
– yes
– and you just take it everywhere?
– everywhere in the west bank only.
– oh nice, you know i am a biker too. i have a big bike. i have a honda CB 900, here take a look (he took his smart phone, shows me his bike.” take a look, it’s all shiny and big.
– very nice, is this your girlfriend riding in the back?
– no, this is my wife.
– great. lovely, my wife doesn’t like to ride the bike with me. only my son.
– you take your son.. wow.
– yes, only short distances in the city.

– but why don’t you get a big bike, this is only 250cc?
– well, we can’t, the palestinian importer is only allowed this bike.
– what? you mean you can’t get bigger?
– no. and i can’t buy from israel too.
– but i see big bikes. the other day i stopped two palestinians with big 600cc hondas.
– yes, perhaps they are the only ones.
– too bad.
– well, actually for the west bank, and with the limited area we are allowed in, 250cc is not that bad.
– yes, actually true. i have this 900 and there is not much road out there. you know i live in Ariel. you know it?
– yes, of course i know it. it’s out there, actually yesterday i passed from there.
– i take my bike and drive those roads, i take my friends and they all love it, love the hilly countryside.. it’s great.
– yes, palestine is beautiful.
– i love riding here you know. so where are you coming from now?
– well, i started at 6 am, (now it’s 10:00) left from ramallah on road 60, then towards jericho, on road 1, drank coffee there, then continued on road 90 until hamra crossroad and back through the jericho ramallah zig-zag road.
– wow, this is great. i wish i can go with you man, so you can take me all those beautiful roads, i love riding there.
– unfortunately it’s not easy here, unless you don’t mind stepping inside palestinian villages.
– i wish i can, but unfortunately they won’t allow me. i’m in the police after all.
– oh, so you are police, what kind of police?
– as you can see, traffic police.
– but you are a nice gentle police. unlike any other i’ve every met.
– true. that’s because you’re riding a bike.
– i guess bikers have no nationality then.
– no, they should open all borders to us.
– true, and then i will never stop until china.
– yea, take me with you.
– you’re most welcome.
Motorcycle diary
– unfortunately it’s gonna stay like this, for a long time. i’m not happy with that.
– unfortunately. but at least we had a nice conversation.
– yes, have a lovely day man, i hope to see you while on my bike, not in uniform.
– same here. have a great day.

I drive on to ramallah. policeman waves for me, his colleague stopped a palestinian car.

Read it in Hebrew here.

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