Driving through a Druz Village = Extra Fun Challenge

Not Druish... Druzim!

The Druzim are an ethnic group found across Israel and Syria. They're generally Israeli citizens and fight in the Israeli army. They're nice people and friendly to the idea of a Jewish state that leaves them alone. However, there recently were riots against the Israeli army in the Druzi village of Pekiin-- which is where we got lost on our way to the Gan HaSela this past weekend.

The problem with Druzi villages (from a driver's point of view) is that they are built for horses rather than cars. In roads one lane wide (with stone buildings on either side in place of shoulders), cars pass in both directions, weaving between parked cars on either side. Drivers go full speed around 90 degree, 100% blind corners. Druzim also tend to have a lax attitude towards lanes; in Dalyat al Carmel, another druze village, cars came at me from every direction with a kind of mysterious internal logic-- "right of way" seemed to be a foreign concept. Pekiin is build on a steep hillside, which made driving in a stick shift car especially fun. And the roads in Pekiin wind mazelike up and down the mountain.

The Druzim appear to like bright colors, pagoda rooftops, roman columns, and whatever other architectural details they can think of

Eventually, we found ourselves at the bottom of the mountain and-- because we were willing to take any road that didn't lead back into Pekiin-- up the next mountain into Pekiin HaChadash, and a dead end in a new development of highly colorful houses. Way up on the ridge behind us, we could see the road that we had meant to take.

My husband didn't want to ask for directions for fear that we end up whisked away to a Syrian bunker somewhere, but eventually we decided that the risk of kidnapping was less frightening than the risk of climbing back up through Pekiin, so we asked a guy walking along the road how to get to the Gan haSela. "Turn around, I'll go with you!" he told us in very good Hebrew. (In America, this response would be unusual. In Israel, it's basically expected.) So he hopped in and took us straight to our destination-- which happened to be just a few hundred meters away.

On our way back, we got lost again and had to ask for directions again. A heavily-accented guy started to explain to us how we needed to go into the village, turn left, take a right, take a left, and go down the mountain side and then take a right to get to the main roads. "Just have them follow me," said a Druze man traditionally dressed in white hat and long robe. We were so glad we did-- the route to the main road straight through another village involved ducking into several unmarked alleys. Just before we reached the road, he pulled over and waved us on.

What about you, would you have asked for directions? Have you ever had any fun experiences driving through Druze villages?


  1. Thank goodness I learned to drive in the cornfields of Illinois!


  2. Haha, yes, I've had experience riding WITH YOU driving, through a Druze village :-). I thought you said there was nothing to it, no problem at all, when I was completely cowed by the experience (and VERY glad that *I* was not driving!!!) :-).

    Loved this post :-),


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