A beautiful evening, a day in Ramallah, some thoughts


I have been thinking of how to share the beautiful sound of the call the prayer with you. Especially on these incredible summer nights that are cool and breezy, the Adhan sounds absolutely as otherworldly and voice-from-above as it is meant to. Since I can’t upload an audio file to this blog, I decided to make a video of the audio. This is our summer evening soundscape. It’s really lovely, so I invite you to turn up the sound and close your eyes (not much to see in the video) and listen. This is around 9pm every night, though the time Adhan occurs shifts with the cycles of the moon.

Just blurt it out:
Things here have been exhausting lately. Laila has been going through some kind of growth spurt that has left her irritable and easily overwhelmed as well as quite mama-needy.
I have been closing down. It’s been hard to take any kind of care of myself while constantly gluing her back together. Emotionally I’m both more in love with her than ever and more exhausted than ever from both her need and my constant evaluation of every reaction and response I have to her huge expressions of anger and sadness and frustration. That and the lack of sleep has left me feeling raw and without the brainpower to tackle basic daily life like groceries and cooking.
There has been (well meaning) pressure to get with the program already. Even the woman who comes to help us clean every 2 weeks has apparently told people we “don’t cook” (meaning I don’t cook) and that we need food. Our agreement with her is to offer her breakfast, lunch and coffee and tea. Last time she was here we offered her Shawarma from a take out place and she took some home…for her daughter. In other words she wouldn’t eat it. So BY GOD this week when she came Faris and I cooked a pot of zucchini, tomatoes, onions and garlic and served it over rice with a side of a regional green called Molokhia (cooked with garlic and lemon). We all enjoyed it.
But yes, I don’t cook lately. She’s right. I am overwhelmed with what Laila has been going through and I frankly I have a lot of adjusting to do in order to feed my family, clean the house, prepare for my yoga teaching, tend to my own yoga practice, and have time to hang out with my husband.
If it has gotten easier to be a mom here, it has been in tiny increments. Last night a fellow mom and recent acquaintance called me. She is Palestinian and has 2 beautiful boys who are roughly S and L’s ages. But she has also lived the expat life elsewhere and knows first hand how alienating it can be to be a foreigner. She also knows how being an expat is one thing but being an expat MOTHER is another thing altogether. And because she has recently returned to Ramallah after living in a country where things are much easier than they are here she can completely relate to my own struggle to adjust.
Her compassion and her understanding were enough to help me to once again turn a compassionate eye to my own struggle with mothering here.
She knows that here in Palestine there are worries that do not plague the mothers I left behind in Texas. For example there is an issue of how to get good medical care. There is the issue of the very different treatment of children here than what I am used to. There is the pervasive sugar. Also it is hard to keep food on the table without spending inordinate amounts of time in the kitchen and upsetting the balance of being with my kids, playing, laundry, basic cleaning and keeping myself cared for as well. I had no idea how much I relied on prepackaged foods like tofu or the year round availability of virtually ANY fruit or veggie until I came here and found that everything must be made from scratch and one must eat seasonally (a one two punch that knocked out about 75% of my recipes. The unavailability of most asian ingredients knocks out another 10%).
Medical care
According to many of the mothers I have met here, hospitals and clinics here are not reliable. Especially for children. I had a feeling this was so, and have been told so over and over by other expat moms. My friend confirmed this as she has had reason to experience medical care here more often than most (I suspect). She said hospitals expect children to understand the authority of doctors and the goodness of medicine, although to a child the doctor is just a stranger in a white coat prodding and grabbing them and medicine involves scary looking things that might poke or be forced into their mouths. Hospitals, she told me, are not kind enough or slow paced enough for a child to adjust and not be scared.
I’m glad that I have permission to enter Israel for the reason that medical care there is generally considered better than here. But I can’t relax about it. I don’t like that solution at all. And how can a mother relax knowing that should there be an emergency, the best care is separated from you by military checkpoints? To say nothing of having to rely on a friend in order to drive me into Jerusalem because I do not have a car with the correct license plate to enter.
I have made a few friends here by now. But a fact of life here is that ex-pats travel home in the summer and virtually every friend I have is leaving or has left. So we are considering a little vacation for a week or two as well.

Views of life here:
At dusk, there was a huge plume of smoke on the hills on the other side of the wadi. We don’t know what it was, but it happens regularly so we assume it’s planned. For me its a reminder of the foreignness of this part of the world because burns this big in America make the news.
Sunrise. Laila spent a restless night and I got up and snuck out after nursing her down for the 3rd time between 3 and 5am. I decided not to fight it and go see what was so important that I should be up for it and I was treated to this incredible sunrise. Of course I still need a nap.
That’s my mat and my white board all set up for my 9am class at Farashe. Outside the windows of this room is the Manara (town center) which is pretty quiet at 8:15am but is bustling by 9am.
The view of the Police station from Farashe’s windows. That is the Palestinian flag (in case you have not seen it).
And from Farashe’s other windows, the taxi depot and the Manara beyond.
and looking the other direction at the backsides of downtown buildings that surround Farashe
things we see:
A homemade kite! I don’t have a clue how to make a kite, so I am awed by the fact that 2 little boys who looked to be about 10 made this kite and were flying it just at the top of our street.
The kite flyers.
also just up the street…
This guy ran away from home. Behind him is his home, and what you can’t see in the picture are two little girls, about 7 or 8, with their hands clapped over their cheeks and ears in a classic “OH NO!!!” moment watching helplessly as their donkey…
…trots off down the road. When was the last time you went out to get a cup of coffee and encountered a run away donkey? I have had the experience twice in 4 months here.
My kids LOVE it.


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