Post by Miriam

Thursday, 09.03.2017
#workworkwork #meetinghelpfulpeople #israeliactivist #fightingoppression #fightingignorance #climbing #svensbirthday

Today was a very sunny day. After the pretty exhausting trip to Hebron the day before, we were a little tired, but very motivated to get started on our project. Linda, Sven, Robin and me took an early bus to university to meet our fellow group members to get started on collecting some garbage for our rooftop. In the rooftop project, we want to use the spaces many people have, but may not be aware of. There is so many ways to use a rooftop as a place for privacy and rest in the rush of the big city.
Therefore, we had already asked for a permission to use a rooftop in BZU to have an example that we could advertise in Ramallah. Everyone met in front of the main gate, so we could walk together to that place, where they store all the big garbage at BZU – our Palestinian fellows had never been here and they didn’t know, everyone was allowed to take whatever they want. We spread out and soon, we had quite a lot of stuff that we wanted to use. Some of the pieces we found needed to be cut or taken apart with some heavy tools, so the guys went down to the engineering department, where they could borrow anything they needed. When we felt like there wasn’t much left that we could use, we headed to the cafeteria, where we had the most delicious sandwich, filled with chicken meat and fries for only 10 NIS. After that, we met with the architectural club of BZU who we got in contact with earlier: we had met a girl on the bus who was carrying the model of a house, so we started talking of how to do that and that we would like to have architects on our team to design possibilities for building fences on rooftops to make it childproof and also safer in general. Now the club offered us to help and told us that they would like to work with us – what a success! In the meantime, we met many people who were interested in getting to know us and who helped us, planning our trip to Tel Aviv at the same time.
Shortly after we arrived at home, we had a meeting with an Israeli activist who is fighting against the wall and for civil rights for Palestinians. She talked about how people don’t know what is happening in the West Bank, like how people are treated like cattle, not given civil rights, being discriminated wherever they go, facing racism every day, going through numerous checkpoints all the time and being locked inside their part of the land, not able to enter the land where they used to live. She also told us about how young Israelis have to join the army – they don’t really have a choice. One of our Palestinian exchange buddies was there, not able to believe that she was facing an Israeli who was talking like that – one of the people that was the source for a lot of indescribable pain in her family. There is a lot of hatred coming from the bitterness deep inside the Palestinian hearts against the Israeli people that is very understandable. Still, that might not be the healthiest reaction to everything that happened and it is only one side of the story since most Israelis don’t seem to be aware of what is going on in those kind people’s lives. A good solution has to be found – whatever that may be.
After that very impressive conversation, Linda, Robin, Rand (one of the Palestinians) and me headed to the climbing gym. I only started climbing in Palestine since it was only 35 NIS per visit, including shower, sauna and a well-equipped climbing gym with a slackline and aerial fitness equipment. We enjoyed the workout a lot and met many nice people, as always. The best part was the shower – even though, ours at home wasn’t bad, this one was unbelievably nice and comfortable, compared to ours.
Due to our high motivation to workout as long as we could, we were a little late for the preparations of Sven’s birthday party. We tried to find a bar to celebrate into his birthday, but in the ones we knew, there was nothing going on, so we went home and celebrated with a fresh juice that Sven got for free. Then we went to bed early to be fresh for our birthday-trip to Tel-Aviv.

Friday, 10.03.2017
#svensbirthday #adventure #telaviv #checkpoint #purim #beach #beachsports #goodfood #timetorest
Friday, we woke up early to get to the car rental on time. We got lost, trying to find the fords that go to the Qalandia checkpoint, but then we coincidently met Dana on the streets who showed us the way and even bargained a good price for us. It took us about 20 minutes to get to the checkpoint, where we had to get out and walk a minute until we reached the checkpoint in the middle of the wall, dividing Israel and the occupied Palestinian land. We walked into one of those steel cage revolving doors. Most people were not even lined up, but sitting in front of the checkpoint. Only one family of three people was waiting in front of us. They were sent back. We passed the control quickly and got into the bus, going to Jerusalem. There, we went to the car rental, we had contacted before and got our car – an old Kia, flat tires, scratches everywhere, no gas and a hole in the trunk. After taking care of the gas and the tires, we took off to Tel Aviv. The landscape on the way was just beautiful: green hills everywhere, agriculture and forests. In Tel Aviv, we had our first little culture shock. After three weeks in an Arab area, no one of us was used to short pants and skirts anymore. Due to the ongoing celebration of Purim these days, people were all dressed up, wearing costumes, comparable to carnival in Germany. After parking and getting a coffee for breakfast, we headed down to the beach. Even though, it was very windy, the sun was very warm. We spent many hours at the beach, writing field notes, slacklining, playing beach volleyball and swimming in the ocean. In the evening, we went for dinner in a small restaurant and back to the beach afterwards. We spent many hours, talking and resting from the past two weeks. It was really nice to get a little break and some privacy for a day. After that day, we were too tired to go out, so we returned to our car and went to sleep.

Saturday, 11.03.2017
#jerusalem #gardentomb #oldcityofjerusalem #sleep #arabicfood #workworkwork
We woke up at 5:30am. Since we wanted to be back in time to return our car, we headed to Jerusalem right away, so that we arrived before 7 am in Jerusalem. After exploring the streets of Jerusalem for a bit, we arrived at our car rental, but it was closed and there was no sign, telling us when they would be open again. A guy who saw us finally told us that they would probably open at about 8am, so we decided to take a walk. Only a few minutes after we started walking we arrived at the Damascus gate, where we entered the old town of Jerusalem. A few markets just opened – it is the Arabic district of the city. Since it was Sabbath, the majority of the city was completely empty, except for a few orthodox Jews who were walking the streets at that time. The old town was slowly coming alive as we walked through those small streets. We passed by a few stops of the „Via Dolo Rosa“, which is supposed to be the way, Jesus walked before he was crucified. After a while, we turned back to the gate, where we bought a little bread for breakfast. Just a few meters before the car rental we discovered the sign for the garden tomb and Linda remembered that I really wanted to see that. The garden tomb is a beautiful place where there are many plants and flowers all around. The idea of the garden is that this could have been the grave, Jesus was buried in, just a few meters from a little hill that could be Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified. All over the garden, there are signs with passages of scripture and you can see typical elements of the bible, such as a wine press or a cistern. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to take in the atmosphere, but I will be going back for sure. After returning the car, we took the bus back to Ramallah for only 7,60 NIS. I woke up, arriving at the bus station in Ramallah. We went home, where we had no water anymore since our water tank ran out of it the day before. So we all sat and tried to recheck our project documentation before we all went to sleep after the short night.
After waking up at about 3pm, Linda, Sven, Robin and I went for lunch at our favorite Falafel place. The service was extraordinarily good, the food delightful (boneless chicken, grilled with fries) and cheap, and we even got a free Arabic mocha and candy with the check in the end.
Originally, we had planned to carry some furniture up on the rooftop, but our application didn’t get approval yet. So we sat down together and tried to outline the next few days as Ziad, Maher and Dana who brought a friend showed up to work with us. The guys worked with Gerrit for the production of the monster shaped garbage can that should encourage people to throw their trash into those cans instead of the streets. The girls and us four, we started specifying our ideas of how to put the furniture on the rooftop. Dana’s friend is an architect and full of ideas of how to upcycle furniture in a beautiful way. She gave us many ideas and is willing to help us in the future, too.
Everyone left the apartment at about 10pm, so that we had a good day to process – I had not expected to get that much done after the short night, but we were well surprised of what can be possible in such a short time. Hopefully, we will get everything done in our project without missing out on getting to see the beautiful country.

Categories: Yallah 2017

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