When I first landed to Ben Gourion Airport, I had to reach Nablus by myself. I use to handle with different kind of situations alone, so I wasn’t that afraid. The roads that lead me to the different cities I had to cross were more than beautiful. Between two cities, two villages, the hills are stretching until far away in the landscape.
I’ve felt already the good atmosphere of the Holy Land. In the bus to Nablus, a woman sat next to me and we tried to talk a little bit. She was working in Ramallah and she was going to Nablus to join the wedding of her sister. She felt proud to be next to me, and I felt the love in her smile.
Normally, it’s boring to travel in a bus, there is nothing to see in the big European roads, as we spend much of the time at 160 miles per hour on the high-way. Asphalt asphalt asphalt.
It took me 4-5 hours to reach Nablus and I spent the whole time observing everything with new eyes. Shops and food everywhere, big holes with garbage, streets full of people and cars horning, young girls and boys coming back to school by bus, yellow taxis, fancy women wearing the hijab, clothes shops again, between a traditional fast food and a hair cutter, electric lines and cable hanging everywhere, stacks of furniture in front of doors of houses, mattress in the middle of a pavement, brand new coke ads next to a cars cemetery. Then hills for as far as the eye can see, olives and lemon trees, tiny roads that link cities and villages, old houses and Arabic graffiti and inscriptions as well as historical monuments. Mosque and the sounds of Adan.
I was in Nablus quicker than expected. The sunset offered me its best gift: it impressed me painting in gold houses and hills. Printed on my memory for ever.
Saleem, quickly followed by Firas were the first people I met in the city center of Nablus. A welcoming sweet (kunafa), introducing and practicing a way to say my name, jumping from a yellow taxi to the street near the new flat I was moving in, I didn’t felt alone at all, as it’s a bit embarrassing for me not the speak the language in the country I’m visiting.
The next day, the journey started. Actually everyday day is a whole new trip. Between the office of the public relations to the old city center, through the streets around the houses, the buildings of the beautiful new campus.
Every day I am making new friends, doing new talks and new discovering. I go to bed at night with lots of wonderful images in my head and a few Arabic words I’m trying to learn with lots of difficulties.
I first visited the old city center with Saleem. We came to the restored hostel, before well-known as a covered market, the famous and cosy spices market, with a place to rest and chat at the back of the shop. I don’t know if the people here know that I’m not used to see the tight pass way of the market. That’s why I fall in love with the country (at least with the place and the people inside). I feel something that I can’t describe, something friendly and nice in the eyes of the inhabitants. I want to eat everything, to talk and laugh with the sellers. Also to reach a highest point of Nablus and observe the city all day long.
I’m finding myself in the middle of the place which suffered the first as well as the second Intifada, where you can find portraits and pictures of people who died for Palestine, destroyed houses that can’t be restored, large places and car parks were houses took place before the second Intifada, herbs and plants using the space between two walls to color the streets in green, closed soap factories, also light and deep sincerity when I cross the eyes of Ali, a shoes’ seller in the middle of the old city. I am welcome everywhere, I like taking time drinking tea, hearing the story of each and learning the point of view of them, looking at the old pictures in the shoes shop, where we can see Ala, 10 years ago with the same smile and the same energy as today. Firas and Saleem, as well as other volunteers told me you know Aude, being volunteer in Zajel changed my life, gave me a purpose and a line to follow. I keep hope deep inside of me. And they are right.
Some people in Europe aren’t always sincere. Sometimes, they are using the relation without being themselves, sometimes they are glad to plan to meet you but they don’t have time for you. You are not part of their timetable. Sometimes I’m disappointed and I stay alone. And often the people I know are worried about their material needs instead of the relations between their friends. My friend is sick? Oh, I’m sorry, I need to move my cartons in my new flat… Have a good rest!
So, can you imagine, when I wake up, and I meet people who are worried about their friends, who are meeting every day one of their friends to smoke or share a discussion, a kunafa or ice cream, and they go home at sunset with more love in their heart? How to explain that this feeling makes me live, instead of worrying about the kitchen I will buy in my new house? How to explain that I will keep the flower that Meisann gave me with the most beautiful smile on the top of the hill? And that the girls I ate with in Ijnesenya (Nisreen’s familly house) were shining with their joy and friendships between each other? Laughing about wedding and also that the girl that the husband of my cousin invited me once to her beautiful house and she got a friend whose sister married the brother in law of the neighbor I appreciate so much? Well, it’s my cousin. Everybody knows everybody, and I even became Nisreen’s cousin.
How not to smile and thank Ghedeer’s mother because she keeps saying that I have beautiful hair and I want to thank her giving me this energy and love through her eyes and smile. I won’t feel sad at all in Palestine, the way I felt sad in Germany during the winter. That’s the secret of this country: human warmth. You don’t have any idea how powerful it is.
I don’t want to compare anything with Europe because it is not the purpose of the report. Every country owns benefits and shadow sides. After a couple of days deep plunges into the Palestinian culture and language, I feel accepted, loved and integrated to the friends circle of every new people I meet.
Thank you Zajel for helping me and plenty other people coming to the public relation office every day, thanks for running this youth exchange program and thank to the extraordinary friends, outstanding landscapes. and it’s only the beginning.