Chapter 5: Suddenly a Journalist

Grapevines and Sea Breezes

Passing Bir Zeit University on my way to Jayyous.

Passing Bir Zeit University on my way to Jayyous.

Outtake from this section (after the underlined part), p. 94:

I spent the next few days [in Jayyous] meeting and catching up with old and new friends, helping Mohammad the Charmer and his equally charming fiancée pick out fixtures for their new house, and visiting one of their cousins who had just finished medical school in Tunisia. He was clearly the star of the day, sitting in his mother’s parlor wearing a white Polo shirt and wire-rimmed glasses, surrounded by relatives and exuding an air of benevolent wisdom and almost boyish pride. I tried to speak Arabic with him, and he answered in a mixture of English and French.

Amman Again

After the first paragraph on p. 101 (all except the underlined part, which was left in):

When I got back to the Al Sarayya Hotel, Fayez invited me to dinner. We walked to a restaurant called Anwar Makka (Lights of Mecca). One of its walls was covered with a stunning mural of Mecca and its mosque lit up against the desert night. We ordered kofta tahina—spiced minced lamb baked with potatoes, tahini, garlic, and lemon. He asked about my week, and I filled him in as we enjoyed the food and ambience. I offered to split the bill at the end, but Fayez responded with a look of such withering indignation, I never dared offer again.

I sighed. “It was the same with Laila. Every time I tried to pick up a bill—even if I tried to do it before the food even arrived—I always found that she’d already paid. She’s like some kind of bill-paying ninja. And this morning her relatives fed me an enormous breakfast, then another friend bought me an amazing lunch, and now you’re buying me dinner. This is getting out of hand. I’m starting to feel bad.”

Fayez laughed. “Don’t feel bad. Maybe you feel bad because it is not your way. But it is our way.” He shrugged. “We like people.”

I made my way to the Pasha Palace Hammam (Turkish bath) the next day, where I enjoyed a sauna, pool, exfoliation, scrubbing, and divinely inspired massage in an old Arabian palace for less than $20. The main steam room had the customary tiny, round stained-glass windows in the central dome that broke the sun into colorful beams as it cut through the steam. I left as soft and relaxed as a baby in a blanket.

I’d been sleeping better in Jordan and feeling more carefree than I had in ages. I ate like a happy camel while I was the perpetual guest and gained back all the weight I’d lost in Ramallah. (I never told Qais the real reason I’d been losing weight. Sometimes when I was reading Catch-22 and hearing about the senseless death and destruction all around me, the world seemed so bleak and crazy and mean I wanted to go hungry and not sleep just to take my mind off it.)

Home Sweet Ramallah

The Al Masyoun neighborhood of Ramallah

The Al Masyoun neighborhood of Ramallah

A view of Ramallah at dusk through the trees of the Friends School

A view of Ramallah at dusk through the trees of the Friends School

A part of town being newly developed (for better or worse)

A part of town being newly developed (for better or worse)

A minaret and church tower side by side in the Ramallah cityscape.

A minaret and church tower side by side in the Ramallah cityscape.

One of the striped hills surrounding Ramallah during the day

One of the striped hills surrounding Ramallah during the day

A valley road

A valley road

A qasr, or hand-wrought stone dwelling. Farmers used to use these while tending to fields far from home. They can be found dotting the hills around Ramallah (and I assume throughout the West Bank).

A qasr, or hand-wrought stone dwelling. Farmers used to use these while tending to fields far from home. They can be found dotting the hills around Ramallah (and I assume throughout the West Bank).

Another qasr

Another qasr

Still another

Still another

Well camouflaged

Well camouflaged

Bethlehem’s Walls

A friend of mine standing next to the Wall in the Jerusalem/Bethlehem area

A friend of mine standing next to the Wall in the Jerusalem/Bethlehem area

A map of the Wall in the Jerusalem / Ramallah / Bethlehem area. So much heartache, division, entrapment, and theft in one picture.

A map of the Wall in the Jerusalem / Ramallah / Bethlehem area. So much heartache, division, entrapment, and theft in one picture.

An artist's conception of what things would have been like 2000 years ago if the Wall regime had been in place then.

An artist’s conception of what things would have been like 2000 years ago if the Wall regime had been in place then.

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