When I'm traveling, introducing myself is always complicated ! For some reason poeple have a hard time to pronounce my name. In English it's "Mail", in Spanish "Mayel". I got tired of it so I often introduce myself as Ismael, here it got easy since it's the Arabic translation of my name 😀
The project that I m joining is a small farm doing some permaculture outside of Ramallah. The project is linked to a hostel in the city, it belongs to two brothers (one deals with the hostel and the other with the farm). The hostel and the farm are both functioning with volunteers and one or two permanent workers. We all live in and eat in the hostel in exchange of our work.
I'm arriving on short notice since I just changed my plan, I was in touch with Bubu ( one of the brothers) he is not in Palestine so put me in touch with Yara, who's working and running the farm at the moment.
I arrived at the hostel, the place looks pretty empty, the volontueer that welcome me is new and never heard about Yara. The place looks very cosy but I'm not so sure where I have landed : good or bad spot ? I've learned from experience to not judge only on first impressions, so I ll see how it goes tomorrow after seeing the farm and meeting Yara! 🤔
In the meantime I decided to go explore a bit the city. I walked randomly, a lot of things are happening in the street, lots of people everywhere, traffic is obviously working without any rules 🚛🚐🚗🚙🚕
In the morning, I meet Yara she comes to pick me up at the hostel. Tall girl, short hair wearing a hat and a piercing driving with confidence The feeling is good, she seems to be pretty relaxed 😉
We are driving to Bil'in the village where the farm is located. On the way it's the occasion to see a bit of the ambiance in Palestine.
For example we stopped to buy something for the breakfast, on the opposite of the street a guy is yelling from is car trying to order from the traffic jam to the bakery where we are😂
We arrive to the village, it reminds me what I v experienced in the country-side of Maroco : the Bled!
She's introducing me to the farm : the organization of the place, the philosophy, the work, the history of the place.
It belongs to a man from the village that lended it to them for an undefined period of time. The place was pretty desertic, the soil is bad, there is not much water but they have worked it hard for 4 year's and the result is pretty impressive!!
They have about 1ha, every inch is used ! They have five different sections with a large variety of fruits vegetables and aromatics (passion fruit, papaya, lemon, orange, mandarins, apple, few variety of salads, carrot, betterave, spinach, zucchini, eggplant, coliflower, broccoli, onions and more) They have 3 differents green houses and also some olives trees.
They don't use any chemicals or machines in the day to day of the farm and are very strict about it!
The place itself is very beautiful and peaceful ☮️✌️
What we are seeing is the green line (with the wall) and behind a settlement that is keeping increasing. So when we work in the farm we are hearing the noise of the work going on in the construction site across the wall. Very particular situation!
For the record the village is in zone b and the field in zone c wich means they could be removed any time by Israeli government.
For info :
Area A – which would be under the Palestinian Authority’s full control and include all Palestinian cities and surrounding areas with no civilian Israeli presence.
Area B – which would be under the Palestinian Authority’s civil control and Israel’s security control and include areas of dense Palestinian population with no civilian Israeli presence.
Area C – which would be under full Israeli control, except over Palestinian civilians. This area includes all West Bank settlements and their immediate vicinity as well as strategic areas dubbed “security zones.”
Bil'in is also very famous because they have protested against the settlement and won partially in the court against the settlement. The area they "won back" is where the farm is. So this whole context gives a very symbolic aspect at the project of working the land ⚖️
For more information there's a documentary about it : https://m.imdb.com/title/tt2125423/
I had a very first good day, I have learned a lot about different topics, the farm is nice and the project has an interesting philosophy. I have a good feeling about it ! Yara is leaving for one week on holiday after a big season, so it will be a bit different as usual. Here we go driving back to the chaos of Ramallah !
I must go to sleep early cause my alarm is set up at 5h30 for the next days 😅
In the morning, I meet Guilia an other volunteer that was off my first day. She's from Italy traveling by herself in the middle East and has also studied international cooperation, we started on the right foot 🙂
The city doesn't work with a bus company, it's all with little van call "service" that goes from point a to b and goes when they are full, you can stop anywhere on the road. It creates the zizanie of the place but it's working!
So we're taking the service to Bil'in to meet Mahmoud that lives there and works at the farm. Then we have a 15-20 min walk to the farm.
We are working on the classics farming tasks, wedding, watering, planting, taking care of certain plants, compost etc.
The work mood is good, she's very sweet and he's very outgoing person that likes to talk and exchange ideas
We go back to the hostel and cook a meal for all the others volunteer to create a friendly mood. It's working pretty well plus Guilia is a good cook as well so we make the team happy 😋
I'm starting to get Into the rythmin of the work and waking up early. We arrive at the farm around 8am drink a tea a talk about what we are going to do. We take a one (ish) hour break at lunch and finish around 3pm.
It's real work but not to hardcore as I have experienced in the past in other places. Plus it's winter so the weather is not to hot and the day finishes early.
I like what I m doing but doing the go and back every day is a bit tiring and loose of time. I like the cosy ambiance of the hostel but going back from the field to the city is a bit hard 🚐
There is a little wood cabin on the field but it's full of stuff because a volunteer burn out the kitchen tent a month ago. So I started the project to put some order In it and fix a window to be able to stay sleeping at the farm ⚒️
I finally finished after working on it a little bit every day ! So I packed my things for the next days! 🎒
I finish my work day and can enjoy the sunset peacefully ✌️
I got to met two guys from the village that were chilling next to the farm so they invited me to join them for a narguile 😎
I have everything I need to cook and eat, lots of time to read and it's super quiet, I love it!
I wake up early but have a lot of time to do my morning exercises and eat a good breakfast while looking at the sunrise 😉
Guila and Mahmoud came with Zay a friend from the village that is gonna help because today is harvest day.
The farm has a group of 15 family that is member and receive every week a box of differents veggies and fruits. This is how they finance the farm. So we're gonna make the basket and bring them back at the hostel for them.
And now day off!!
I enjoyed my day off chilling at the hostel, taking the time to do some exercise in the sun, reading and writing but more than everything : cooking a nice dish!
I decided to practice my humus making. I tried a lot of version back home but never reached the texture I really like. Guila showed me her version and it's real good, perfect texture !! I had to come to Palestine to learn with an Italian 😅
I wish you a good humus to all of you ⛄🕯️
I'm not really a fan of the winter holidays even if I like the family gathering spirit.
Since I'm away from home I was not thinking to do anything special.
Guila, Paul and Emrys ( two volunteers from the hostel where we live) were going to Bethlehem for Christmas. She offered me to join, so I thought what the hell must be nice at that time of the year to go in this holy city ⛄
So here we go in this mini bus traveling through those hill roads full speed. When you arrive you feel like you got out of a boat 🥴
But it is a good surprise once we walk in the old City. It feels a bit like the old part of Jerusalem, it's very charming. When we get to the main square it's very Christmasy, a lot of lights and poeple hanging out there
On this side of the square, you have the nativity church wich is a very symbolic place for chrisrians. On the other side, you have a nice mosque, as always in this area very strong mix!
We walk to go to our host house that lives a bit outside of the city. We meet Mahmoud, who welcome us as kings! He takes us to eat in a nice restaurant 🍽️
We get to know a bit of his story, he has an interesting background! He's born in a refugee camp, quit school around 14 years old to work in a wood workshop. There he learned to make different sculpture of olive wood that Christian tourist buy when they come to Bethlehem.
He recently started his own company and have his own atelier. He makes himself a lot of different items from olive wood and sell them on internet. Very beautiful work, if you want to have a look : www.holyland-olivewood.com
He explained us how things are complicated in Palestine to run a business : he cannot use most of the online application payement, when he wants to send a package. He must send it first to Israel post office then They will send from there ( he has to pay two times and wait a lot). The administration is a mess, he has buy a place to start his business but is stocked for a long time for no real reason, just wainting for a official paper. And it goes on like this with more!
But still he has made his way and lives now comfortably thanks to his efforts 💪
The next days, we go to check the center during day time to see what is the mood. It is full of poeple and there is a Parade so almost impossible to walk, not so enjoyable.
We decided to go check a other part of the city that is also interested but for different reasons.
The wall of separation passes very close from the center of Bethlehem, so it's a bit of a change to pass from the Christmas mood to this.
This part of the wall is even more famous because Banksy came to paint at differents spot near it !
On the wall, they did some work to collect stories from different people of Palestinian society about a few thematics related to the oppression, sadnesses, frustration, fear and so on. It's a bit like walking in a exhibition and read stories about the country and poeple but in a context very particular. I would say pretty well made the stories, not trying to reach the drama, just saying a story that everyone could understand.
What banksy did is a interesting gesture and meaningful use of street art: Bringing the attention and push poeple to think
But now we reached a point where poeple start to come just for the painting. Wich makes it a bit strange, you see family and couple posing with smile and funny pose near to the wall. On the other hand, it's positive to turn something negative into something meaningful.
So a lot of mix feelings go in my head as I walk around...
We finally go back to the center to meet with Mahmoud after his day of work.
We meet in a nice bar to have a few drinks 🍻
Good surprise, they having a live show with traditional music. We end up spending Christmas Eve in Bethlehem drinking beers and listening some Oriental music ! I say good mix, good poeple 😉
I don't how he did but Emrys, ( who was staying at a hostel) Managed to get arrested and lose his phone just after we split up after the bar. He still doesn't really know what happened to him and what he did wrong. There was a lot of police in the street because minister of Palestinian was visiting the nativity church for Christmas. Crazy story !
The next day we chill at Mahmoud's place with a late breakfast. End of the afternoon it is time for me to go back to Ramallah 🚌
I'm actually happy to be back ! Bethlehem was nice but it's a very touristic place, everybody is trying to sell stuff all the time. Here it's a mess in the street but nobody bother me for anything ✌️
I start to get use to the rythmin of the farm, taking my bearing in the day to day life at the hostel. What I didn't really except is that Palestine experience a real winter time. I had in mind the very hot summer of middle East but I was a bit optimistic about the rest of the year... It gets sometimes near 3 degrees at night, wind is powerful and the houses are not prepared at all for that!
With this cold and rainy weather I can't stay at the farm but good thing is that we have a nice rythmin going on with the volunteer at the hostel. We cook and eat together every night. It feels cosy in the kitchen/living room with the fire place going on and the dog resting on the couch ⛄
Unfortunately, Paul and Emrys are leaving and no more volunteers are coming at the moment. So it seems that the little group ambiance is over.
Before they leave we go for a drink and to watch the sunset in a spot that I have found in Ramallah 😇
I thought this winter would be the one but no, i managed to catch a cold just before new year 🤒 anyway I didn't feel like partying. I decided to escape at the farm to rest and be in an environment healthier🙏
It was a great idea, I got to rest, enjoy the sun during the day, just be relax. It made way more sense for me to start the year like that than drunk in a club, glad I got out of the social pressure of partying 😇
Anyway, not the judging the others who want to party, hope everyone had a good time with family or friends 🍽️🍻
Happy New year to all of you 🎉🎊
The project started almost five years ago with Mouhab (one of the owner of the hostel) and Mohammed ( a guy with agriculture's knowledge from Gaza) were working together.
At the beginning they were more following the philosophy of agrocology (def : " Agroecology shares much in common with other approaches to sustainable farming. Agroecology is farming that “centers on food production that makes the best use of nature’s goods and services while not damaging these resources.") and mostly aimed to be a act of resistance throw occupying the land and showing example of food souvernity.
Mohammed could enter in the West Bank due to an admistration's mistake (since he's from Gaza, he's not supposed to be there). At some point he has to leave because his situation was blocked. He left the country, mouhab kept working with the project. After a while, he needed some help to keep going, that is where Yara entered in the project. She brought new energy and the permaculture philosophy to it!
(def : " Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people — providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. ")
Basically the two visions are going in the same direction, permaculture is bringing a holistic vision to apply at all the aspects of the Life system.
At the moment, mouhab is in France. He's spend a lot of his time there because his girlfriend is from there and she's banned from Israel for 10 years ( they got suspicious simply because she was coming oftenly to the westbank to visit him, a bit arbitrary.. ). So Yara is managing most of the time by herself, trying to develop the project. They still work at distance with Mohammed, who works on theorical planning of the harvest and discuss together as much as possible about the main decision related to the farm. This represent well the kind of complications you can get in project management in Palestine 😅
The Farm is compose of 5 mains areas( abcde), inside of it we grow differents vegetables following variable timming and schedule. The vegetables are planted in what we call beds. Basically it's layers of soil, manure and compost. This Technic allows to start farming in a place where the soil is weak and at the same time to nourish it as the season past. For that they had to bring extrant (soil and manure) Wich they try to limit as much as possible.
Here some pictures of the differents areas with a non exhaustive list of the vegetables we are growing and the others elements of the farm to have a better idea of how it looks 🙂
We also have an area with plurianuales plants ( staying more than a season) like artichokes. You can find a lots of herbs around the farm, like salvia, rosemary, different types of thymn ( origabo, zatar), lemongrass, mint, lemon basilica) apple trees and papaya 😋
There are 3 green houses, that play an important role. 2 mostly for seeding and inside cultures. This is key step for the balance of the production's rythmin.
The third one is a tree nursery, the idea is to develop a place that's growing local trees and taking care of the Palestinian wild history.
We have differents types of compost that play a key role in the whole process The 2 "classics compost " are divided by duration of processing : long term ( few months 3-6) a short term ( 2 weeks). This last one is a magic receipe with different quantity of staws, greens leaves and manure. Making it looks like a bit like baking, you put the right proportion of each ingredients, turns it every two days and you get to 60 degrees in a few days! And voilà 🙂
There is a vermi compost ( it's a compost with worms) and we also make oftenly a tea compost ( liquid) that we can directly spray on the plants to give her some nutriment and power.
You will also some bees to complete the balance of the system and having some honey 🐝
There is the wood room ( with the roof that needs to be finished), the new big tent ( a volunteer burn out the previous one two months ago) where we cook and prepare the baskets. Also a natural building work in progress : it's a place to cook with an oven, the steam go through a pipe and heat the seats 😎
The whole farm is about 1.7 ha considering the areas around with olives trees (where we seeds plants that don't really need attention or lots of water) and a other area just wild.
What you saw with the areas abcde, the green house etc is actually only about 0.5 ha !
The farm structure is based on Community support agriculture.
"CSAs are partnerships of mutual commitment between a farm and a community of supporters that provide a direct link between the production and consumption of food".
Basically some persons become members of the farm by paying in advance for the crop of the season. Like this the farm doesn't have to worry about selling to the market and both parties are happy to cut off the middle man. The members have a guarantee of eating good, fresh and organic vegetables every week. Everyone is happy 😉
Then the Challenge is to produce a basket a week for the 15 members that contains the same items in each one's ! Making sure to produce in the right quantity and timing requires a lot of planification, organisation and adaptation 🗓️
So every Sunday it is harvest day : we spent the whole day collecting, washing, cleaning the different vegetables and making the baskets that the members will come to pick up at the hostel.
It is a tiring day but very fulfilling, even though the baskets are not for you collecting the vegetables from the ground feels like a healthy Christmas day 😄
You can have a general idea of the farm's reality 🤠 our work consist mostly in paying attention to the different elements part of the system. This imply a lot of maintenance : weeding, watering, seeding, planting, making compost, harvesting and observing
I'm learning everyday a bit by doing, watching and asking questions. I'm willing to understand better the bigger plan of the farm organization. Also, Getting to sharp my observation skills and increase my general knowledge about plants 🧐 step by step I'm advancing on this long beautiful path !
Beeing and working in the farm make a lot of sense for me ! The project is very meaningful and managed with love and passion. It's a peaceful act of resistance that serve as an example. Plus it shows the result of permaculture to the habitants of the village.
On my personal perspective, I m learning everyday about farming and permaculture. Working in a farm is very logical: the way I see it is really about finding the balance between all the elements of your system. Everything in the farm is useful and has a purpose. In order to make the system going on, you have to pay attention to every step. It's a matter of seeking the right balance, Wich makes a lot of sense for me!
I see kind of a parallel logics with the organization in a kitchen. To cook different kind of dishes, be quick, cook for a big amount of poeple your kitchen system need to be well set. Plus you need to make sure all the time that you have the ingredients that you need to create all your menu. You take care of the flavour of your dish as you take care of the vital energy of your plant. Big difference is the speed rythmin of the work 🙂
The other day, Victor asked me if I hand the green hand ? My answer was : like cooking I have a good intuition, I do things that I observed around me in the past and improvisation is my credo but I still have a lot to learn 😅
I m good at seeing the general view of a system or a project plus, I consider myself as someone that looks for healthy balance in life. One in the other I found both in permaculture and farm work🙏
One day I got back from the farm and I got a message from my cousin asking me news. I answered giving a bit of the last stories and mood. He answered telling me that he's in Israel at the moment and that he would like to come to visit me ! Totally unexpected 😅
Of course I'm happy about it so we arrange to meet during my days off. So nice and at the same time so strange to see some one from back home in this environment.
The first night we go to a nice local restaurant to have typical food and your belly full of foul 😉
After that I take him to a nice little bar where young Palestinian meet to chill. Very surprising to see how similar the mood is from every bar you could find in Europe ! We have a image of Palestine as a moslim country very religious. It's partly true, but the Christian community and the young open minded generation balance very much this reality.
I haven't moved much inside Palestine excepted for Bethlehem, Bil'in and Ramallah. Si we decide to go the next day to Naplus, less touristic than Bethlehem, less international than Ramallah but more authentic.
Less poeple speak English which is nice for me as an exercise to practice my Arabic. We feel quickly welcome, once we arrived and we're looking for the center. A guy came naturally to help us and showed us around (not asking money, just beeing Nice). We walk around in the old City and the market. Stop to eat in a really narrow place where two guys barbecue continuously some meat : delicious 😋!!
We kept walking and decided to go outside the city to have an upper view of the Valley. We first ended up to a archelogic site belonging to Samaritans community. That's how we learned that this small community of Jewish believe in this old temple as the holiest place instead of Jerusalem. They live appart from the rest of the Jewish community. It s a very small group ( about 800 poeple) 300 live here outside of Naplouse, it seems that they leave peacefully there ( but couldn't find one to ask).
Nevertheless, the view worthed it !
We go back to the old City to have a piece of kunafa ( traditional Palestinian desert made of cheese and a sweet layer) it is originally from the city of Naplouse. So we go directly at the source 😅 when we finished and we wanted to pay the guy tells us : "nothing, hospitality".
It is completely the opposite behavior of what we are used to experience in the touristic areas ! It feels good; a girl even stopped us in the street to ask where we from and then just smiled at us, saying : welcome in Palestine !!
Time to go back to Ramallah and finish the day with a good pitta falafel ! Yes it's all about food 😉
The next day Julien join me at the farm to visit the place. Very happy to be able to present the farm and sharing what I have experienced those last weeks. He seems to really enjoy the place, as a gardenner he's sensible to the natural environment and all the plants.
It is also a good opportunity to observe the wall from the other side, see the village's situation of Bil'in and experienced and other reality.
After that I drove him back to the village where he will be going to Ramallah and then direction Tel Aviv.
He shared with me his thought : "waw the shock is going to be quite big, from harvesting salad in a farm next to the wal in the morning l to be drinking beer In Tel aviv at night in the same day !"
It was interesting for me to see someone else experimenting and realizing those mixed feelings that were in my mind those last weeks.
One of them was, the surprise facing this information sign that you find at many checkpoint. Why would it be forbidden to cross ? Maybe a advice for safety matters but still... I guess that is part of the tough game that is beeing played by Israeli government 🤔
At the moment, Half of my life is the farm and the other one is at the hostel and in Ramallah. I live by a pretty healthy rythmin since I have to wake up early💪
The rest of the time I try to create positive habits :
- warming up every morning and stretching in the afternoon. Working in the farm is quite demanding for the body. I try to take care of it 🤸
- Studying Arabic every day, (at least learning a few words). I'm realizing how long it is going to take me before I will be able to have a day to day level. Not loosing hope !
- Reading and learning about farming and Permaculture. Since I'm seeing everyday something, I'm adding some theorical content to improve on both aspects.
- Meditate every day 10 minutes.I was interested about it for a while and did a few intents. Lately Victor got me into trying with more commitment through an app that guides you in the first steps. Really interesting and good habit to stop and pause in your day, even 10 minutes 🙏
- Eating healthy ( mostly vegetarian, almost vegan). Plus I eat a lot of fresh and organic vegetables from the farm 🍽️ Plus practicing cooking and learning New recepes.
I realized that the situation where I am is a perfect structure to focus on certain aspects of my daily life that I was hardly able to put as a priority in Brussels. Plus, beeing a volunteer give me home and food without needing to worry about money or dealing with it in my daily life. It is a real release and an enjoyable feeling 🧮💰
I feel that my brain is beeing stimulate every day with lots of differents stimuli. Even by being speaking English all the time, I m working on something. It feels good to focus all you capacities on new subjects and having the space for learning more.
Of course I can't say that everything is perfect, I'm still making some exception as a gift to myself 😅 You have to look for the balance with a bit of flexibility !
I'm starting to have my little habits that gives you the feeling that a place or a city is your home for the moment 🙂
First I can find my way in the neighborhood (haha). Then I start to know the bus drivers to go at the farm, the good places to eat sweet, falafel or humus. I even enjoy the craziness of the city (obviously because I know I won't leave here for ever) but still, I find my space in the flow of Ramallah.
Normally I would add climbing at my routine but I'm injured at the finger since I arrived 🙁
Remember all the climbing in Cyprus ? Well an old Injury woke up there and Instead of letting it resting I pushed it too far !
It's classic for climbers to hurted themselves at the fingers. I read a bit about it, and saw a lot of case like me . First you Get into climbing for about a year and then your first injury comes. Hits you right in the ego and reminds you that your body has some limits that you have to respect. Specially if you want to keep using it full power !
It is a very important lesson here and it makes sense with the stretching that I m doing every day 💪
Still, I need to do sport to stay in shape and keeping my good vibe, so it's : Parkour training !!
It may sounds a bit crazy to do parkour to not get more injured but I m going Easy on it 😉
Problem : it's cold and rainy so I cannot train that much. Plus I'm thinking that I could do something to train some other skills in order to improve my climbing level when I'll get back to it. So to help me to be patient and still be training, I started yoga 😄
I also thought that I should do something to practice my Arabic with someone else outside of the hostel. So now I'll meet every week Sana, she wants to practice her English and will be helping me with my practice of Palestinian dialect.
I would say that my life is sweet and full of positive activities at the moment. My weeks are fulfilling and meaningful 🙏
As I told you previously, Bil'in got famous for his non violent civilian rebelion. The spirit of the protest stayed even after that the wall has been moved backword. Poeple kept the feeling of injustice, the dead won't be forgotten and the land stay zone C.
They tried to keep the rythmin of the weekly protest they use to organize every Friday. Now, it lost a bit of energy. Years passed, the revendications are not so clear anymore and poeple lost interested.
You can still see a few poeple protesting every week at the gate. It became a bit "sad" to watch. Once some Europeans tourists came to participate, so they burned some tires in front of the gate. It a almost looks like it became an attraction for foreigners.
Still, the impact of the oppression is real and present in the day to day. For example, in the morning we always stop at a bakery on the way to the farm, the guy is super friendly. Once, we stoped and his brother was there instead, we asked why ? Because he was in detention for using flour coming from Israel. They are a lot of economic regulations on dayli product that makes life more complicated. Simple example but strong!
It's always a big contrast with the good mood at the farm !
Anyway, life goes on and everybody keep doing his own thing.
At the farm we had two new volunteers for two weeks, with Bubu back from France we've got some new energy. The sun was even back for a couple of days 🙂
The previous week, I decided to go a bit away for the weekend and go check out Haifa. Paul that was volunteering at the hostel is in a project over there at the moment. So it was good opportunity to go check something else.
The morning I took the bus to cross at Jerusalem, it was pouring rain, it gave a dramatic background at the checkpoint.
What a shock, on the other side ! I didn't realized that it was a month and a half that I was in the Westbank. I got used to it! Passing the check point and seeing old poeple dealing with young soldier that are younger than me got me thinking. What a strange power experience for a teenager ?!
In the arab bus of Jerusalem ( because they are two differents companies) I'm looking around me and thinking that the old man that I m seeing looks so familiar that ( out of context) I could not tell if they are Arabs, Jews or even Italian... It is a strange feeling from my perspective!
This day we even got some ice rain in Jerusalem !
I finally got a bus from Haifa, dried my feet and admit that I might have been a bit pessimistic, everything was not that bad. It was even sunny when I arrived in Haifa 🙂
Haïfa, is very different from the other cities from Israel. Thirst it's more a "working class " city by opposition to Tel aviv. Then it is way more mixed inside of the cities. Arabs and Jews/ Israeli live closer to each other than in some others areas of the country. For example, It's not a big deal when you enter a shop and you Shalom or Salam to say hello. Most of the time, it seems that poeple were pretty chill about it. So I walked around the city with Paul to have an idea of the area.
The city has it own charm, it is not the most beautiful place I've seen but there is something. Even the industrial port from the upper view is kind of cool !
I heard a nice story : there has been a criminal fyer at one of the ( kind of liberal) synagogue. So the rabbi was a bit desperate. One of the imam of the city, friend of this rabbi. Helped him with some members of his community to rebuild the synagogue and offered him some trees to plant in the garden !
Later on, it is the mosque that has been the victim of some fires. So he called the rabbi cause he didn't know what to do for the preach day. In response to that, he invited him and his community to pray in the synagogue and transformed it temporary in a mosque 😄
We go on in our exploration of the city to go in direction of the erithreen and Russian neighborhood. It is a other style, it's a mix between a "cheap" neighborhood where different immigrants community live and some cafes and restaurants that starts to be a bit trandy. It is just next the market, I a way in reminds me my neighborhood in Molenbeek 🙂
The project where Paul is volunteering is in this area. It's a restaurant that cooks only food from the waste of the supermarket and shops. They only serve vegetarians dishes and the food is free price ! I feel quite familiar with the concept 😉
We arrived at the end of the day so I could not eat there but I got to visit the place and the kitchen instead. The restaurant is really cute and the working areas are quite nice for a small project !
It was the end of the week, so I stayed for a cup of tea and had the time to speak with the team manager and some volunteers. I got to understand a bit the structure and the organization of the project.
They are 6 workers to get paied.
The main part is the restaurant, that works with a chef, second, team manager and a lot of volunteers. The have in permanence about 20-30 volunteers in the project coming from abroad and sharing the shifts of the week. They have some more volunteers that are locals : who help with the hosting of foreigner volunteer, play music or even cook.
The rest of the team is working more on the volunteer aspects, communication and workshop organisation.
From what I could understand, they are at about 90% self sufficient economically speaking! They have only a bit of subvention from government, quite impressive. All of this with a small team and a restaurant working on a free price, I say : mazel tov! I have an pretty good idea of the challenge that they are facing 💪
The guy that started the project, came to pick up some stuff but didn't stay cause he was in a hurry. Very funny: he's the same size as, me a beard and hat, kind of ginger, pretty friendly and dynamic. Felt like looking in a mirror, strange but interesting feeling ! Good to be watching 😅
I stayed in Haifa for the night and been hosted like a king 😉
I left Haifa with a very different feeling than when I arrived!
On my way back to Jerusalem I was very much in my head thinking about the level of complexity that reach the situation of the area. To illustrate it, in a coffeeshop in Haifa the worker and the owner were speaking Arabic together. It seemed that the worker was not speaking in his mother tongue so I assume that he was a israelian but learning Arabic with his boss. So I told them : " that is cool, you speak Arabic together ?" And answer :" yes of course". I go like : " waw and you're Palestinian and you Israeli". They both answered : " no we are Arabs Israeli".
They are big differences between, Israeli, Arabs Israeli, Palestinian with Israeli residance cart and Palestinian. I had a good example of the importance of the difference, they were insisting on being Israeli. When on the other side most don't want to have anything to do with Israeli government...
This is just on the social aspect, not even talking borders or political right!
In Jerusalem, I was so thoughtful that I took the tram in the wrong direction. When I changed to go back, there was a guy with a big back pack staring at me. Then I walked to the arab bus station to take the bus to Ramallah. The same guy was there. While waiting for the bus, I was speaking with someone and talking about the farm. The guy from the tram, comes to me and said " sorry couldn't help myself to hear you speaking about the farm" and I was like yes, how can I helped you ? He said :" I'm Bubu"! He was just arriving from France and by coincidence we end up in the same tram 😅 that is how we met ! He was looking at me in the tram cause he saw some pictures of me on the Facebook of the farm.
Before Guilia left the project she wanted to show me a nice spot at the Dead Sea.
It seemed like a good idea to rest a bit from the farm work and the cold weather! So Yallah !
If you look at the map, the way that we have to do in order to reach the spot it is very stupid. From Ramallah we have to go to Jerusalem, from there to the dead Sea. It's the only way because we need to catch the Israeli bus company, since the spot is in occupied territory.
So it means crossing the Jerusalem checkpoint again!
If you don't catch the official bus from Ramallah ( that goes directly to Jerusalem) you have to take a service to the checkpoint and then crossing walking.
This place is so strange! On the outside it looks like your next to a prison. When you are inside, it is similar to a small aéroport but not very welcoming.
We went through the security check, as my bag was passing in the X-ray. The soldier asked me if the bag was mine. I answered positively. She told me : " big problem" ! I had my camping knife in my bag...
I had to go in a room big as 1m² with just a camera and a parlophone. I stayed there for 10 minutes without knowing what was happening. When they let me out, there were 4 specials soldiers with huge guns near my bag. They asked me to take out slowly my knife and give it to them. Then walked me to the outside of the security check zone. Asked me a few questions and eventually gave me back my passport and knife. I guess beeing white with a European passport helped to smooth the situation 😅
Then we took the bus that dropped us nearby the Sea and we hitchhiked the rest to arrive in the middle of nowhere!
A little walk from there to find the spot 🤠
Et ils marchèrent ...
The spot was so nice, the colours of the sunset were incredible ! It was like looking at a painting 🌞🌛
The spot is a small beach with little natural pools of hot springs. So you are sitting in this natural jacuzzi while looking at the nice view of the Dead Sea and Jordan 😎 what to ask more!?
When we arrived most of the pools were occupied. I spotted one that was going to be free. As I was speaking with the guys the offered me drinks to welcome us. They were really friendly ! When they left they said as a joke : " you see we are giving you the place easily. Now poeple don't come to us and say that we don't share the lands." We were in occupied territory 😅
Fire To finish a good day 🔥
We enjoyed again the whole morning the hot springs 🙂
Time to go back to Ramallah !
Différence of température is huge ! It is crazy the distance is so small but it felt like going to two differents place of the world 🥶
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