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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.

By: Aude Mogi

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.‎

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