A lot. Considering it’s nearly 90 out and sunny all day. Of course, that’s pretty normal. Nablus is definitely on the more conservative end of the list of middle eastern cities and because there are so few westerners here, all eyes are on us. I try to err on the side of caution with my dress, as a teacher of young women I want to make sure I look like a role model as much as possible. I was able to convert this into an outfit which enabled me to scale the side of a building, though.
It’s all about versatility, right?
Boycotting Israel is a lot harder when you’re in Palestine. Nablusi stores are boycotting Israeli products and I’ve found myself staring blankly at the grocery store knowing well that the Israeli apple juice tastes a million times better than it’s local equivalent and feeling a tinge of guilt. I inadvertently purchased all Palestinian goods this morning at the corner store and Oum Sana at the register praised my choices profusely. I blushed. It was entirely a coincidence. I don’t know how to even begin falling in line with the boycott movement that my students and colleagues adhere to- everything here seems to be Israeli. We are, after all living on land they control at the end of the day. I do feel as if it’s important to stand with my hosts and avoid that gorgeous juice with Hebrew written on the label, so for now that trip to Super Store is a little more complicated, but that’s what you get in a complicated land.
I spent the night watching the clouds on the roof of the boys’ house. They live in a slightly dilapidated apartment, up the mountain from the school where we all teach. Seemingly ancient stone steps lead up from the road, around a sandstone wall to their gated doorway. The boys; Alex, Harry and Spencer are a comfort to have in this city and in the school. Their huge terrace, tucked behind lush trees is our refuge. At night we take off our ever present cardigans, exposing our shoulders to the cool summer evening air. It’s wonderful, far from the prying eyes that follow us on the street. We ate dinner by candlelight- a huge pot of lentils and fresh bread. Bright Eyes played in the background. Funny how being thrust together in a strange new country results in a closeness I didn’t find in DC for almost a year. After dinner, we climbed up window bars and found ourselves on the roof watching the clouds and the stars that peeked out from behind them. It was a simple kind of communion. I was covered in dust- a smell I didn’t know I loved. It reminds me of being a child in a string of crowded cities, dust clinging to my hands and feet. Being up there with my thoughts, the heavens and a few new friends- I felt like I was home