Monday, 29 March 2010


Tuesday 30th (ignore time date above)
3 hours until I leave Jerusalem for the airport.
I was again well looked after by Bernadette and Elias (EnglishPAL friends)
I was invited to a special family Palm Sunday meal - unfortunately there was no way I could eat it so thought it better to not attend.It was just as well because I kept sleeping thru the day.
I was dropped in Bethlehem to go to the doctor.Unfortunately,they only treated Palestinians.The doctors were quite brusque but the patients recognised a fellow sufferer and directed me to another nearby.
Another man took me into a building led me to a waiting room and pointed inside.
I found myself sat with women and children.There were posters on the wall of pregnant women.My feeling of unease (mental- the physical was still very close)was relieved when I saw a man leave the doctors room- with wife and children.
My turn came, a helpful doctor prescribed some drugs.I repeatedly asked how much to pay and was only met with "have a nice day".
I met a friend who took me to a pharmacy amid much guffawing at my visit to the Obsetrician & Gynaecologist...
I managed to eat half a meal for the first time monday without ill effects.
I had the remnants for suffer.
After Mass at Notre Dame I felt tired and went to bed and slept 10 hours.
Last Day
I got up fairly early and went to Mass at the Holy Sepulchre.It was very cold standing there for well over an hour.
Although very hungry I am finding it hard to persuade myself to eat something.
I will probably settle for some bread - again.
Its Passover today and I've just heard a conversation about Nesher (the airport taxi service) being closed.Is my booking via hotel valid?On a normal day the regular taxi is 60 pounds...

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Laid low

It's been a good 48 hours since I started with a very dodgy stomach.36 laid in bed.Thankfully,the bathroom is only 1 metre from the end of the bed.
I've been hot,so cold my teeth chattering and all my bones aching.
In these parts the rehydration fluid is Sprite.
I have been well looked after by Khalil at HCEF.
Although,the rice dish he brought was great every grain went through me.
Elias and Bernadette from EnglishPAL are going to pick me up in less than an hour and take me to their house.
Thankfully,the frequency of my visits to the smallest room have decreased.
I just hope I'm OK by Tuesday afternoon when I fly...

Thursday, 25 March 2010

House of Fun

Spent a lot of Wednesday hanging about the Offices of a Reconcilliation organisation.
Quite moving some of the stuff I've heard.
Had dinner with an interesting couple who run a self help website.
Had some of Weds and all of Thursday with the children & Sisters at Children of God Home,Bethlehem.
It looks like after a couple of technical hitches the initial $600 will reach them.
Sat in the Chapel within the house you can hear the laughter of the children and occasionally their crying.The Sisters seem always to be laughing aswell.
They clearly love 'their' (my word)children.
I've heard some mind boggling stories of the number of handicapped children in this part of the world.The Bethlehem Children of God Home is going to have a booming trade for the next generation at least.
Happily i have spoken to a couple of young women that are not going to make a traditional 'choice' of husband.
Today is the Feast of the Annunciation - Patronal Feast for the Sisters.
A couple of carloads of children (Christians only),Sisters & volunteers headed for Mass.It was followed by a party at the House.I was the only native English speaker.
Apart from me EVERYONE spoke at least THREE languages.
I was woken at 5am today so now its Marsalama from me.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Stiff as a board

The one eyed mangy cat rumaging thru a waste bin was the last sight of the hostel as
we went out for a 3 hour Tour of the Old City - which wasn't that good.
I learned next to nothing new.
In the afternoon Jan & Ana went to Masada and I caught the bus to Bethlehem.
(Got to say Jan was a great travelling companion - El Nazra to Al Quds.Good luck with the Medicine Degree - hope you get to Africa.Ana thanks for the company and your 'secret' is safe with us - Oh and keep smiling!)
Werner's contact in Bethlehem came good - thanks
I'm now ensconced in a Guest room above the Holyland Christian Ecumenical Foundation.
On being given a brief drive round Bethlehem I met Victor (Rony's Dad).I was soon dining with Rony & Carol.I did manage to get lost going the 400 yards back to HCEF
(I always say getting thru Towns/Villages is far harder than finding them in the first place).
My one and only pair of trousres have done sterling service for 3 weeks but are as stiff as a board so I have taken the risk of washing them and hoping they will be dry in the morning...

The Girls of St ...Joseph's.

Monday 22nd
The three of us - Jan,Ana and myself went to Jericho to walk up Wadi Qelt.
We got up the Mount of Temptation whereupon we could get no answer at the door.
The girls of St Joseph School,Bethlehem were also visiting and tried a bit of singing to get Abouna to open the door - no luck.Jan had the girls swooning "great jump" as he climbed over a high fence to explore some lunatic idea of us going over a cliff edge - we didn't.
It turned out Georgette is a Volunteer at the Bethlehem Chidren of God Home that the money is being raised for.The girls and their teacher also know "Our Rony" Tabash.
We never did get up Wadi Qelt and returned to Jerusalem.
After catching up on a bit of sleep we met one of Ana's friends in West Jerusalem for an iffy Ethiopian meal.Later Belgium waffles were much better.
After a mad dash back to the Old City we ducked under the Midnight Portcullis.
We had insisted on a new room as we did not want a repeat performance at dawn.
Tired as I was I could not help noticing the bed linen was rather 'interesting'.
The Matrix coat doubled as a 'ground sheet'...yep it was that good.
But I slept.

No good turn goes unpunished...

Sunday 21st
We eventually made it into Jerusalem and found a Hostel
It was chosen to suit my student companions budget...
The 'features' in this establishment probably coincide with most people's imagination back home.I delayed a shower to the last possible moment - not relishing the cold water.But was pleasantly surprised to find it warmish.At any rate warmish enough to dislodge half a toenail suitably 'cooked' over the last 3 weeks in my walking/only footwear.
As 'bus ticket' moments are burnt into my soul (Egypt Museum circa 1980)I was adequately prepared for all 'occassions' but I have to say I found crucial necessities were provided.
Altho absolutely knackered I had made a fatal mistake in the evening.
Upon treating my fellow traveller to the Austrian Hospice apple strudle I had a double expresso long.This made sleep elusive - then from the room next door came very loud snoring.I read outside the room for a while but it was too cold.
I must have drifted off about 3am- then beeb,beeb,beeb we frantically went thru our phones to switch the alarm off.finally realising it was the snorers next door.His alarm was set for 'dawn prayer'.He didn't turn it off!
Then on top of beeb,beeb was ring,ring,ring and he still didn't turn it off.
Forgetting all the rules of this land I went virtually naked and pounded on his door.
Not a sausage!!beeb,beeb and ring,ring for another aeon of time.Finally it stopped.
The bliss was interupted by the most horrific throat clearing imaginable...

EnglishPAL delivers the goods.

I found the exact spot where Habib had made us tea the year before.
Another very enjoyable day in the countryside.But we then paid the price with plenty of asphalt.
It was cool by the time we got to Ramallah.
We briefly met Shadi one of my englishpal contacts who assisted us to get to MK's place in Bir Zeit in the dark.
After shower and laundry we set of into Ramallah with MK's friend Anas.
We ended up talking well into the night - maybe 3am when we got to bed.
I have heard all sorts of ghastly stories of suffering in this HOLY LAND.
MK and particularly Anas conveyed their stories with passion but without rancour and a quiet dignity.This hit home harder than some other 'less quiet' ones.
I hope to meet the lads again...