learning about Ramallah.

This is Ramallah.

Sheep graze beside a new, upscale coffee shop full of local scholars, artists, and businessmen and internationals
old world meets new world on every corner.

this is the shepherd.

this is also so Ramallah. Construction, pedestrians, old buildings mixing business and residence.

There are fully stocked baby stores here and this is what they look like. This place even sold baby carriers (think off-brand Bjorns). This pic is here to show you that not all stores are crowded and crammed. Some are comprehensive and helpful. Though, honestly, the electricity went off while we were here. That happens a LOT in Ramallah.

Hospitality.


This is a breakfast we served to a man we hired to do some yard work for us. Cucmbers, olive oil and spices to dip bread in, salty cheese, boiled eggs, and olives. We also served him tea (black with sugar). We also served him lunch as his work went into the lunch hour. We serve our cleaning lady breakfast, lunch, tea and coffee while she is here as well.

I have served tea to plumbers, electricians, the landlady, and the cleaning lady because that is what people do here; they treat each other like guests whether invited or not, working for you or not. At first I was VERY intimidated by this and awkwardly invited the plumber to have tea and then reminded him to drink it until I think he finally thought I was nuts and stopped to down the tea in one gulp *but* I’ve gotten used to it! We even cook for our cleaning lady on Friday. Next Friday I will make her cookies to take to her family.

Expenses.

To heat a house here one buys tanks of gas that are locally called, “Solar”. Why “Solar”? I have no idea since it is nothing to do with the sun. But Solar is EXPENSIVE. When we bought ours on first moving in we asked how long the amount we bought might last. The man told us 1 month to 3 months, depending on our usage. It cost us nearly $1000.00 (that’s one-thousand US Dollars my friends or over 3,000 shekels) and last night we ran out. So the house was COLD all night, and COLD all day and will be COLD until we get our next re-up of Solar tomorrow. Which we will now use SPARINGLY (holy crap-a-moly its EXPENSIVE!!!!). Faris ran out to get us a space heater tonight and returned with this one. Look, it’s “Just Like In America”. Lady Liberty even.
By the way, the next time you buy gas for your car and think how expensive it is remember that gas for our car is about 4 times as expensive as in the States. Yup. Good thing this is a small town.


Yoga.
yesterday I took my first yoga class in Ramallah at a studio called “Farashe”. It costs about $5 per drop-in class (20 shekels). Farashe is a non-profit existing in donated space and on donated energy from its teachers and board members.
Farashe_yoga_center
(I hope I can be forgiven for swiping this image from their website).
Today Farashe begins an outreach of prenatal yoga into the Qalandiya refugee camp here in town. I can see a great need for yoga here with the awful stress, depression, and anxiety that must come with living under occupation and extreme political situation. Life feels hectic here. I see people bustling, rushing, poker-faced all the time. There is a lot of jury-rigging that goes on because most things don’t work the way you expect them to or would want them to.

I hope I jolt you when I say that these people live under the boot of Israel in a way no one can see from America. Last week the head Rabbi in Jerusalem, I am told, gave a sermon (is that the word?) in which he told his congregants that non-Jewish people exist to “serve” Jewish people. That’s insane. I mean that literally.
One has only to look toward the hillside to see Jewish settlements illegally prospering on this sliver of land. I mean illegally literally, too.
One has only to attempt to travel between cities here to find the occupation, though Ramallah does indeed exist in a kind of bubble apart from direct contact with the occupation on a daily basis.
Google has an agreement with Israel that it cannot zoom in too closely on Israel. No street views. No view of checkpoints. Just letting you all know this. Did you already know?
By Myself.
Last night I took the car out by myself and drove around Ramallah for an hour. I took some pictures, and though they are the pictures of a person too shy to get out of her car and take better pictures, I hope they are worth looking at.
This is one of my favorite street scenes. Look at the roofs. Look at the juxtaposition of luxury type cars with the old city feeling of the street. The green grocer on the right is Abu Issa’s store. We are his regular customers as he is generally well stocked and is a sweet older man.

A (homesick?) realty company. I feel their pain. I need Home, too.

another green grocer. To get good produce one needs to go to a produce store. To get good meat one goes to a butcher. For good sweets one goes to a sweets shop. Life is hectic here.

i’ve begun to think of the Manara (center of town) as a 3rd world Tokyo with all the jam-packed stores, pedestrians, police, and vendors.

Out on my own!
everywhere I walk there are people grilling things on the sidewalk. Meat, falafel, meat…did I say meat?

This is in old Ramallah near where I live.

More passport photos needed to try to commute my 3 month visa to a 1 year visa.
I put these here because I went out and got them on my own. Not impressed? I found the office amid many small stores in a windy, labyrinth part of Ramallah and when I got there the clerk didn’t speak English and my Arabic doesn’t cover official business vocabulary, I felt out of place, awkward, and actually kind of stupid because I couldn’t communicate and still I was able to get done what I needed to get done.

I am beginning to truly understand what it feels like to be a foreigner. I have so much more understanding of the many Hispanic emigrants I knew in Austin. Brave souls, it’s not easy. And people are not always kind.

Beauty.
more exploration of the Wadi near our house.

At the top of our street lives a horse that S and L love seeing

I can’t get enough of the view here. I have come to think of the apartments here as beehives.

By the way, check this out:

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6 thoughts on “learning about Ramallah.

  1. Wow. Thanks for sharing all your wanderings and thoughts. I feel like I'm learning so much- including what it must smell like as you walk past the shops and smell the grills on the street. Does it remind you of childhood late night summer cookouts? Or is it something completely new and different? I'm in love with the view from the top of your street. The rocks, the olive trees, the hillsides, etc. I think I would go there every day.

  2. It's the little things that are hardest when you are a foreigner. You have been so brave to go out by yourself and get things done. Even though your kids are young, it's a great example that you're setting for them (I think I can, choo choo).

  3. I was so taken by the hospitality shown to everyone who comes to the house in Palestine. I decided to adopt it. Yesterday, I learned that the woman who has cleaned my house for the past 7 years doesn't drink anything with caffeine, but she loves grapes and is so-so about cashews.

  4. Pingback: coming to Ramallah? bring these 2 things « Piles of Laundry in the Holy Land

  5. Pingback: All What the Ladies Need | Piles of Laundry in the Holy Land

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