Post by Linda
A long trip over to Israel it was. But it was also a really good opportunity to get to know each other better. We as a group of twelve students in a small aircraft made our meetings in advance of that trip almost unnecessary. Finally arrived at the airport of Tel Aviv, some of us were stressed, some elated and some totally hyped up due to the lack of sleep. I count myself to the first two. I cleared immigration and customs without any issues. One question – one answer – and I was in. After that also the last little jumpiness fell off my shoulders. Overall, ten out of twelve members of our group had a similar experience. Unfortunately, two have of us have been kept in for hours for further screening. Marios, Sven, Gerrit and Maren stayed at the airport waiting for those two to clear immigration. After quiet a turbulent ride, the other half of the group arrived well in the apparently abandoned and way too cold Ramallah. Our home for the next four weeks. The streets were completely empty and our apartment completely cooled down. Already in the staircase with its broken windows there was not much hope for real isolation of the entire building. We killed some time and checked our cell-phones every second, just in case any news from the group left behind at the airport would have been sent our way. (Not one radiator, but Wifi – thank you, Palestine.) The first highlights during that time: a 24/7 juice bar at the end of the street and the first batch of tea from Miriam. Around 4 am we received the notification that the others finally made it through immigration and that they are heading our way. After we checked the rooms and assigned the rooms/beds, we finally fell into our beds by 6 am. Arrived in Ramallah!
It took us until the late afternoon to settle and to realise that we have arrived. It still is way too cold. We all expected something completely different and packed accordingly. But during the day Ramallah shows a completely different side than upon our arrival in the middle of the night. It is super busy and colourful. One store next to the other and a huge crowd of people moving through the streets. It’s a lot to take in. Especially with the unmanageable traffic situation. And now the third highlight: the food! Marios and Sarah brought in a big variety of everything, so we accomplished to have it for two days. This day was dedicated to solely arriving and getting settled.
The third day I started off with some early morning workout with Robin and Miriam. We went out jogging through the streets, which went surprisingly well due to the fact that all the sidewalks were almost deserted. Also, all the stores were closed, because it was Friday. Just before breakfast we also discovered our rooftop and enjoyed the view over the city. The sun also said hi and delivered some warmth. On today’s agenda: city excursions in small groups. Robin, Sven, Sarah, Miriam und me went through the still empty streets over to the Arab market, where we encountered completely out of a sudden a huge crowd of people. Behind some fruit stands we discovered the mosque, where the people gathered around. They were sitting in front of, behind and in the mosque to listen to the sermon, which was broadcasted loudly over speakers. Robin wanted to get a little bit out of the city – out to a more rural area. We followed his desire and pretty fast we arrived somewhere more rural. We looked around and also talked to one of the residents. Afterwards we’ve met with Marios and Renad and walked together through al’Amari refugee camp. Already after the first five meters, we immediately could recognise that we just entered a complete different world, a world of its own. The alleys on the right and left became narrower and narrower, but were stretched longer than expected. Not everyone seemed to be well-disposed towards us, and people appeared to be not amused of “visitors” in their own little city. Besides evil eyes they also have thrown carrots and rocks after us. Nothing happened and since this was driven by motives of individuals, the impression remains that we were not welcome at all. Nonetheless, it was amazing to see all the curious kids, playing soccer in the streets – just being kids, frisky and happy. Hereafter we went back to the base and exchanged our experience we just made with the others. They also made an experience of similar nature – not a pleasant, but formative experience – they got threatened by a little boy. On the whole, we discovered Ramallah quiet well and collected a lot of impressions already. After the nightcap routine, we all went to bed.