January 15 – 20, 2015:
Where to begin? We arrived in Ramallah last Thursday after a sweeping tour of the Jordan Valley which included stops at the Sea of Galilee, Mt. Of Beatitudes, a ride along the Dead Sea, tour of Masada, and a visit of Qumran caves. I still cannot believe I was there.
We’re staying at the Ramallah Friends Boys School and although we have leaky ceilings and very little hot water, we’ve found many ways to make the best of things. The group has reached a certain level of cohesiveness that simply put, just works. We’re all unique in our own special ways however we respect the differences each brings to the old proverbial table. As we near the end of this journey I cannot imagine being without them each day.
So, Ramallah. Very different from Jerusalem. The streets are crowded and the distinction between Arab and Jew is clear. Mostly from the dress attire for the women but also with the men. Mosques are frequent and the call to prayer five times daily (we also heard this in Jerusalem) reminds us all that we are in a state where Islam is the predominant religion.
For those of you who don’t know, we’ve learned that the West Bank is one of the occupied territories where Palestinians live. Ramallah is the largest city in the West Bank and also where many of the Palestinians live and work. It’s very crowded here, the city actually doubles in size during the week as folks come here to work.
I’ve tried to capture a few shots while we walked the city to give you a taste for what it’s like living under the military occupation of Israel. I have so much to share, but here is where I’ll begin.