26 Jul Mmmmmm…. Siesta
Hey OG-ME followers,
I took the liberty of reposting this blog from http://ogmiddleeast.wordpress.com/ where they’ve been blogging. Enjoy!
Food, sleep and Play
Twelve days into our expedition and once again the majority of the group is partaking in what is quickly becoming ritual behaviour – the siesta. Before proceeding this habit should probably be put into context. Sweltering weather aside (which lets be honest is reason enough to forgo afternoon adventuring) the group has now commenced its chosen collective project of running a summer camp with the Bedouin children of Khan al-Akhmar. For those who aren’t familiar this community, this is where last year’s OGME group helped build the ‘school of mud and tires’. Despite demolition orders, the school is still intact and the kids have already completed a year there. Now OGME is back to provide some fun and help foster a use of this valued space that extends beyond the confines of the academic year. Rising at an unusually early hour to beat the aforementioned heat, we’ll be spending Mondays to Thursdays there for the next two weeks. Hopefully some photos will be up and out soon for your viewing pleasure, but I wouldn’t want to wake from their sleepy recovery after the energy-packed morning just yet.
In our off time, we’ve begun to venture further afield and spent yesterday traversing the West Bank landscape in bus and service taxi (mini-buses or vans depending on the company) to get to Nablus and Ramallah. Apart from our previous sojurn into Kalandia refugee camp, this was the group’s first taste of urban Palestinian life. Leaving Eyal behind in the comfortable confines of Jerusalem (his favorite city in the region for those who didn’t know) due to entry restrictions for Israelis into certain cities in the West Bank, the rest of us spent the day hanging with organisers and volunteers from Project Hope, local import businessmen and political personalities, the boysterous Askar refugee camp kids (where a few of us received impromtu dabkeh – traditional Palestinian dance – preformances and lessons), and new ’old friends’ from Canada who teach dance in Ramallah. Mad good times were had along with much walking, talking and eating. Apart from a delicious Arab lunch (according to our newfound local culinary expert, Rich – now eating upwards of half a litre of hummous a day) we also indulged in the prided Nablusi dessert of knaffeh – think cheese, sugar and pastry- and Ramallah’s arab gum ice cream. Full of food and memories, we’ve been told by all our new friends and acquainances that we must return to each city again to ‘really see it’. Inshallah (god willing) was the best we could respond with, but a few of us are more than tempted to hunker down for a bit during ITT.
As the day and this post wear on, the heat has started to resign itself behind the Jerusalem hills and the grouphas begun to slowly emerge a little more refreshed from the cross-breeze enhanced bedrooms. Our twelfth day is over but the night will soon be here. Time to make some dinner, walk around the now familiar quarters of this (un)holy city and encounter more new and interesting people. The next few days hold more kids, more siestas, more food and, hopefully, more fun and unforgettable times. Now that the weekday rhythm has been set, we’ll wait to see what unexpected instances will seep between the framework and keep you all posted on the exceptional weekend outtrips we’re currently lining up.