Do you see the faces in these rocks? I’ve been wanting to take a picture of them for weeks now.

The colors. A view from the top of our street into the Wadi.
A horse was tied to this tree and happily munching on grass at the top of our street. We are at once very close to town and very much on the outskirts. Just behind me, where I stood to take this picture, is a swank new restaurant under final construction. Dichotomy like this is partly why Ramallah is such an intense sensory experience.

Well. Another week has nearly passed. My kids are so much older than when we arrived here in Palestine. So am I .

Laila is talking an unbelievable amount. Sufyan is putting together more complex thoughts and communicating them to us much more concisely than ever before. Both kids are learning Arabic steadily. We no longer eat preboxed meals of any kind (unless you count cereal).
I have successfully lowered my cleanliness standards to match the lack of time and ambition I have to mop my gleaming white stone floors. I have cooked Palestinian food (wara’ dawali, malfoof, joory rose lemonade, mjedarra, etc), mexican food (fail fail fail), hippy food (beans, rice and avocado with yogurt), and sushi (avocado, cream cheese, and cucumber rolls). But I still cannot get a decent grocery list together because my brain has not made the long trip from Whole Foods to Bravo Suber Market yet.
There is so much to tell. There is the adventure of living here and there is the difficulty of living here. There are moments of helplessness that I cannot describe (in a nutshell, helpless is the one place I never want to be as a mother) and moments of pride that we as a family have done something most families will never do or experience (maybe there is good reason to never do what we did, but I am certain not all who wander are lost).
My son, out of nowhere, closed the sweet story book we were reading and started crying! He was saying, “I just want to go back to Austin! I don’t want to live here! I don’t want to live in Palestine!” When I reminded him of all that we love here and all the things we do here he was silent, teary eyed. “And this house,” I told him, “you love this house! You would miss it if we didn’t live in it anymore!” “I like it,” he told me, “but I don’t want to live in it. I want to live in Austin. I just want to go baaaaaaaack” he sobbed.
This is not the first time he’s felt this way and told me so. Of course he misses what he’s used to and what’s familiar. He’s human. But it breaks my heart when he feels so sad.
Later, he perked up and was happy enough to eat Rukab Ice Cream that we can only get in Palestine.
Rukab ice cream was enough to put him back in the mood to love Palestine again because when I reminded him that he can’t get this kind of ice cream in Austin he told me he likes living in Palestine. It’s the little things, Sufyan.
More awesome colors. Water from a spoon is much more tasty than from a sippy cup. Laila knows this secret.

A warm day and us on the dirt roads at the top of our street. Sufyan LOVES to be set free to run out here. “I want to RUUUUUN in the WADI!” he told me.

A neighborhood being constructed just across the wadi from us.

Climbing is a new favorite thing. Climbing trees is so nostalgic for me, and I remember the feeling of bark under my hands and feet so I tend to encourage it.

At the Family Park there is an indoor play area with a pit of colored balls. Laila loves it.

Sufyan continues to regularly go to this window in our house to “Watch the trees grow” about 3 times a week. He sits quietly, for up to 30 minutes at a time, and just watches. The trees. Its a very peaceful and quiet time. Lately Laila (who is not given to sitting and contemplating but rather to action and constant movement) has been joining her brother at the window. However, she is still very much herself. When it is time to climb down and she isn’t ready she starts screaming hysterically “WATCH TREES GROW! WAAAAATCH TREEEEEEEES!”

This morning we ventured out to a park in our sister city of Al-Bireh.
The place is HUGE. The pic above is just one of the 4 levels of play area. The slides are all fiberglass and painted. They remind me of county fairs from where I grew up, which is a nice memory and makes me automatically relax a little around them. Totally illogical, the way the heart communicates with the brain via memory.
Sufyan found a seed for me. (actually this is a picture of how adorable he is).

Sufyan conquers the heights…
This van advert struck me as very local in flavor. So I took a picture and stuck it up here on my blog.

Below: Cars with yellow plates are cars allowed to cross into Jerusalem.
Jerusalemites (Palestinians with an ID that allows them to go to Israel to live and work) living in Ramallah are generally working hard to keep their status as Jerusalemites and retain permission to enter Israel. As I understand it they often pay 2 mortgages or 2 rents (one here in Ramallah where they can actually live and one in Jerusalem where they can actually work or get to medical specialists they might need etc) so that they can fulfill the requirement to maintain an address in Jerusalem. I didn’t used to give much weight to whether or not I could personally enter Jerusalem. But the longer I stay the more I value the fact that I can go should I need to. Its not that the old City holds so much allure for me, its that there are things I can’t get here that I can get in Jerusalem. Like mail from my parents (at someone else’s PO box, of course). Or certain dietary supplements. Or certain medical attention.
I would not call this time in my life emotionally destructive. I would call it turbulent. I would also call it insanely interesting. I have zero regrets about moving to Palestine. Staying here is another matter and it has not worked itself out. Still, I am teaching every weekend and expecting to continue to make friends however slowly that happens. I tend to be easy to talk to and hard to get to know. But since moving here I have decided not to waste time on things that, for me, “don’t fit.” So I have a little group of people who I think of as friends here now and eclectic as we are, I am very grateful to have them.


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