Arriving in a difficult place with beautiful people

Palestine Territory, Area C, Israel.

It is hard to keep up with all the impressions. Today I arrived somewhere in Palestine. Yes, I’m vague. I have been asked to not reveal the name and the location of the place in the Internet. I’m not yet completely sure why but I assume that they have enough sensitivities to deal with.

The energy of my trip changed this morning. Recently I learned that exercise and meditation is the way to stay grounded in vulnerable times. To honor that insight I started this morning with 4o minutes of sitting on the bed of my hostel in Jerusalem. After breakfast I did 30 more. Then I went into the souk to get my beard trimmed (I’m growing my beard to look more muslim, I’m not kidding). Went back to the hostel to get my bags and stroll to the busstation. I passed by a money exchange and wanted to use the ATM. Instead of letting me use the ATM the guy presented me a portable PIN device like you see in bars and restaurants and swiped my card. Once I as walking outside I realized I was robbed of 20+ dollars. I saw my anger and my impulses to start a riot come up in my awareness. I grinned and realized that practicing meditation doesn’t keep people from robbing you.

I took the mini-bus to my destination. I was asked to leave the bus (felt like being kicked out) at a point where aggressive Palestinian cabdrivers were waiting. The price went up by ten times, 70 NIS instead of 7 NIS. I agreed to pay 40 NIS, still believing it was a taxi. Then they filled up my ‘taxi’ with 7 muslim ladies, saying that it was ‘family’. Long story short, I refused to pay the 40 NIS, which led to an aggressive situation with about 3-4 men. He was urged to take my 25 NIS but it ended unfriendly.

It felt as if my experiences were symbolic for the place that I’m entering. It is tougher here. But I better man up because after this comes Beirut, Cairo and Baghdad. People are wounded here.

It takes courage and vision to want to work in this place: grim, in the middle of nowhere, in a torn country, on a junction of two highways. Heavy traffic passes by 24/7. The founders told me that they chose this place because this junction is in some sense also both physically and metaphorically a junction between Israeli’s and Palestine’s. They do peace work and ecological work on the cutting edge of the problem. As one of the founders said: “When we started imagining this place we were thinking about some beautiful location in nature. But at some point we saw that it didn’t make sense to stain a pure place by starting to live there. We needed to try heal a difficult place.”

So I’m at a very difficult place with beautiful people. The coffee place next door is closing and I have to go to my mattress and two sleeping bags because I sleep more or less outside and nights in the desert are cold. Once I found out how open I can be I will be back.

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