I loved Ramallah. I did not get to spend much time there but I felt like this was a place I could see myself living. To me, it seems like a built up city, with more new and modern buildings then I had seen elsewhere in the West Bank and certainly in Jerusalem where most places are at least 200 years old.
We spent the night in Ramallah and had a tour of the city the next day by a friend of one of my group leaders and the founder of an organization we were helping, called Combatants for Peace.
While walking through the city we stopped so our friend/guide could explain a bit of the history. An older man walked out from a house and spoke to our friend in Arabic. Our friend addressed the nine of us and said that the man had invited us in to have coffee.
We politely said “oh, no that is okay, thank you” but the man insisted and soon we were gathered out in the back of the house and his dear wife was bringing out coffee and cookies. We all sat around and listened while the wife spoke about growing up in Palestine and how she and her family lived in a refugee camp in Jordan during the 1967 war.
It is astounding to me that people would invite complete strangers, and clearly tourists, into their home and sit and chat as though we were all old friends. This shouldn’t be a surprise, it should not be rare that this happens but coming from North America where we are all warned about stranger danger, this was a surprise that people could be so nice and welcoming and if the rest of my experience in the Middle East hadn’t already proven it to me, this moment would have showed me that this is a place where the people are so generous it breaks my heart knowing that some have suffered so much.
Let us end on a happy note!
The night we spent in Ramallah we went to a hookah bar and watched the first Spanish-Netherlands game of the FIFA world cup on a projection screen! The whole bar/restaurant was cheering and it was such an amazing experience to be caught up in the energy with all the other fans! In case you were curious I was cheering for The Netherlands!
While I know many people are hesitant about travelling to the West Bank, I would say that Ramallah is probably the city where you will feel the safest, it is a very beautiful city and one of my dreams would be to work at the UN office there.
Let me know if you have ever been to Ramallah!