July 13th, 2005
The day started early today. I woke up at 5.30 hours,
probably because the local mosque urged us mortals to pray (but I'm
not sure that's what woke me up). But anyway, I decided to get out of
bed and just start my day. I finished yesterday's letter to you and
then went out to get some breakfast.
I walked down the hill and suddenly noticed that the
Israeli military watchtower was still there; it had managed to escape
my attention yesterday now that it is camouflaged. But luckily enough
they had a flag out today so it can be seen again. But OK, down in the
village I found a small grocery. I bought bread, some meat, tins of
hummus and something that looked like salad. Shopping can be a hindrance
if you cannot read Arabic or Hebrew and the shopkeeper doesn't speak
a word of English.
We had breakfast with those who were awake (8 out of
10) and after that we sat down with our small organising group and started
to go through the programme for the next two weeks planned by Menno.
He really did a great job in putting all of it together. We didn't have
enough time, some had other engagements, but we will give it another
shot later this evening.
Next we walked around the school to decide where we would
deliver the various workshops and had a look at the ongoing construction
work; about another ten guestrooms are being prepared. This really is
a wonderful and efficient place; there is so much space for everything
we wish to do.
The next point on the agenda was a visit to the Bethlehem
winery. The winery is one of the places we'd like to visit with the
whole group sometime in the next two weeks. So today's visit was mainly
to get a feel for the place. We ended up buying wine or grape juice
or olive oil.
A very important moment for me was when we visited this
Shoarma restaurant. I had my first shoarma wrap like meal, with lots
of salads and spices to go with the shoarma meat. What a feast!
Not all of the group members had been close to the wall
or a checkpoint before (most of them have only driven through), so we
walked there. With excessive help from their big brother the US, the
Israeli's really have added something to the scenery here. What used
to be just a horrible checkpoint is now becoming a sterile, concrete
area. In a year or so, getting through the checkpoint will be a highly
sophisticated process. This could possibly mean that us Internationals
will no longer be able to just go where we please. Additionally, this
means that the Palestinians living here will be completely isolated
We got back to the school by taxi, feeling somewhat depressed.
Once we were back we visited the little shop near the school that will
be our main resource of drinks and snacks in the next couple of weeks.
Just as we stepped out of the shop, some of the local children asked
us to take a picture of them. I'm looking forward to seeing those: the
image of the broad smiling kids despite everything will stay with me.