Choosing Nablus-city to live for three weeks was the best unconscious decision to make a break from university. Life revolves around local volunteers, families, students, inhabitants and other international volunteers. I am glad not to see many footprints traces of tourists. Apparently, a few dare to come from Bethlehem or Jerusalem, those who have enough curiosity.
Nablus-the-Beautiful will stay traditional for a long time. It is another way of life than in Jerusalem-the-Holy, where lots of sellers are trying to attract you because you are a huge part of their daily revenue. And it might be unfortunately quite the same in Bethlehem. After passing by these two major cities, it was truly good to be home, in Nablus.
The following week of my stay in the city was full of new discoveries, meeting of new people, and a new timetable. I did not think I was able to teach or share my knowledge with interested students, and that enabled me to discover new perspectives. How easy it is to make people meet each other, and I am so thankful to all the ones who helped me in my personal and in my future plan doubts and troubles! All this made me believe even more in them.
Another part of the culture chock was also pretty fascinating:
One entire life is not enough to deal with self-confidence, and to make even one single hypothesis on the subject. When I feel jealous of travelers that “crossed” fifty different countries (but in a way, they stay the same), and on the other side, when I compare my passport with the blank one of the people here, I do not know where to sit. The notion I had about rights and freedom changed over the last ten days.
To be a volunteer and to give time to the locals (because they are interested to learn from you and to teach you in return) is a personal way to travel. Compared to the classic back-packing travelers, we are not going to visit lots of country in such a short period of time.
Because you need time to listen carefully and regularly to what is inside the heart of the people, you need to get used to the life and the culture there, to meet a mother that lived the double of the life of your own mother, to learn how to play Hand, to listen to the traditional life of the Samaritan on the top of the mountain, to learn how to wake up at the good time with a full-time adventurer and refugee, to talk about God with the taxi driver who brings you home without extras, to smell almost every day the delicious spices and cakes in the covered market, but the tainted meat on Friday, and to let birds express their songs in an empty and old Amphitheater.
You also need time to learn more about the friends you met, and admit that some women in Palestine want to stay at home and take care of everybody, organize meetings and having girl conversations, whereas others are ready to fight and study hard for a long time.
Some men are commenting aloud girls’ looks or particularities (or they horn them, cause it is the same thing) whereas other deeply respect their soul-sister from the cradle to the grave.
Some families promote freedom and travels for their children, and others cut the wings before the big independent flight.
The people I observe all the time are always, always following a crucial rule: if they discovered at least one foreign culture, if they stay open-minded and keep compassion towards each-others, there are far more chances that you will feel more comfortable with them, and that they and you can adapt well with each other.
Several times, cousins brought me home at night. And those nights, I loved having the feeling that I am never alone, that the friends I made are the most respectful people, because they have to deal with the day-to-day life in Palestine, work, families, dreams, history and politics… Palestinians are so proud of their country, their food and their friendships, and at the same time so worried about the reality of the political situation.
On the way back from Ramallah to Nablus in the car, I’m looking at the landscape I will miss the most, I breathe at the same tempo as the Adan (call for prayer) and the beautiful voice reading the Holy Koran on the radio, and I smile from the inside at the old man praying next to me.
Keep this in mind: if you are looking for something, search behind the mystery of life, search for energies, feelings and love, lose your comfort and marks, change your environment or your habits, observe others as you observe the tiny details of the landscape, and enjoy each second of your time, as the Arabic community is teaching you to do so.