Post by Sven
Friday 17th March
Today we did a trip to Bethlehem. First of all it was really nice that a lot of our Palestinian fellow students took part in our trip. After reaching the city we started our day with a small breakfast next to the city centre. We were discussing if we whether want to explore the city on our own or not. The majority wanted to split up the group. Therefore we explored the city in small groups.
I didn’t expect the city being so touristic which lead to a certain disappointment. Before continuing our trip we bought souvenirs for friends and family. While buying postcards I talked to the shop owner. I saw that she sells reusable bags. This was quite interesting for our “reusable bags” project. Therefore I asked her about the base price and if she is satisfied with the volume of sales.
After that we took the bus continued our ride and finally reached the wall. The colours and pictures were really fascinating but still the wall doesn’t make you feel comfortable. Furthermore we went into “The walled off Hotel” located a few meters next to the wall. The interior decoration and the gallery were really fascinating. Some of us also took the opportunity and visited the museum of the hotel. They charged everyone for 15 NIS only locals had free entrance leading to a good mood for some of us. Melissa, Miriam and I decided to take a quick rest and we enjoyed a coffee while watching the wall trough the window.
Our final destination was located at the border of Bethlehem. We met people living without electricity or running water. It was so surreal cause these people lived next to Israeli settlements. These moments gave us the opportunity to experience a huge clash of cultures and two different worlds meeting. When our host lead us through our way next to the fence a conflict occurred out of nowhere. One guy from the other side of the fence verbally attacked one person of our group. He asked us how we can be able to stand on this side of the fence supporting “those” people. Furthermore he wanted to show us a video of a situation two days before when one settler was killed. A huge argument between him and some of our Palestinian students occurred. I was really shocked when the settler pointed on the back of his jeans showing a gun. During the whole time is little son (maybe 6-10 years) stood next to him and had to see the whole situation. We left after the situation calmed down a little bit.
Finally we called it a day and started our drive home.
Saturday 18th March
Linda and I planned to do some more theoretical work for our project. Before going to work we started the day with a fresh juice at our favourite juice bar. The seller suddenly started to talk in French to us although we almost attended his shop every day. After that we went to the Star&Bucks Café. A café which tried to imitate the classic Starbucks shops. Furthermore they also offer food and shishas. For the last days we often came here to do our theoretical work. After finishing in the afternoon we went home and watched a German football game.
In the evening Josh and I went back to the city centre and looked for some food. We decided to go to a Shawarma place and bought a vegetarian wrap. Buying a vegetarian wrap gave us the opportunity to prepare it ourselves. After that we were invited to spend an evening at Berlin bar with some Palestinian students we met at BZU while making interviews for our project. Although we really wanted to go we decided to cancel the meeting because we had to get up early.
Finally the majority of our group met at Base2 and enjoyed the evening with some drinks and nice talks.
Sunday 19th March
Today we got up early to start our trip to Jericho and the Dead Sea. I was looking forward to visit the Dead Sea for a really long time. For the beginning we went to Renad´s place and picked her up. When we reached the first checkpoint we got a surprising rejection. The soldiers explained that due to a new law we were not allowed to pass through the checkpoint with our license plate. Therefore we had to go back and took an alternative route passing the Calandia checkpoint.
While heading to Wadi Qelt. we stopped at an amazing viewpoint enjoyed the extraordinary view, took a lot of pictures and visited a monastery. Some locals tried to sell souvenirs or donkey rides. All of us were really sad to see how badly those people treated their animals. They hit the donkeys with billets and most of them were really unfriendly.
After that we hiked up the mount of temptation and visited another monastery. When we decided to leave we saw a loud group of children being forced to stay outside the monastery. The teachers left them behind without any persons in charge.
We hiked down to the bus and continued our journey. Some us wanted to visit Jericho while the majority preferred to visit the Dead Sea.
Taking a bath in the Dead Sea was an amazing experience. We floated on the water and could see the border of Jordan on the other side. After our bath we rubbed ourselves with mud and enjoyed the sun. In the evening we met up with the rest of our group and went through the streets of Jericho. We ate a falafel sandwich and finished the day with an extraordinarily good ice cream.