violachic: (Default)
I wanted to share this little tidbit that I found funny this morning. It is excerpted from the email update put out by CPT's team in Hebron

Monday, 13 February 2006

Dianne Roe had a conversation with a soldier at gates 4 and 5 in
the Old City. They continued to talk until another soldier approached. Roe,
expecting the worst, feared that settlers nearby had told the soldier that
they should not talk to CPT. The second soldier then confronted Roe and
asked about a paper. Roe, knowing that soldiers have in the past required
special permits for internationals in places in Hebron, said she was from
CPT and lived in the Old Market. The soldier then repeated his need for
some kind of paper. Roe looked bewildered until the first soldier, whose
English was better, said, "He is asking if you have any toilet paper." Roe
checked her pockets and apologized that she had none. She told them she
would bring some next time.
violachic: (Default)
I have a PASSIA!


Note: This post may only be intelligible to those on my friends list who have been to Palestine.
violachic: (Default)
So I have another story. A true story.

So there we were in Tuwani, and it was the first day of Eid Al-Fitr. Our team had spent some of the day sitting on the hillside doing checkpoint monitoring, but decided to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening doing the celebratory visiting of friends and neighbors that is one of the hallmarks of the day. We were served the delicious biscuit that is made with a filling of dates or almonds and dusted with powdered sugar, and vats upon vats of the sweet, sweet tea in small glasses. We stopped in to see one family as they were preparing supper of Makloube (which means "upside down" in Arabic), and we were invited to join. We stuffed ourselves as much as we could on top of the heavy cookies and gallons of tea still sitting in our stomachs- our taste buds wanted it, but our bodies just couldn't handle it!

We knew that the olive harvest was supposed to start in two days, on the third day of Eid, and knew that we needed to have a key role during that time as accompaniers. After dinner, we were informed that the men of the village were having a meeting about olive harvest that evening, and we were invited to attend. The four of us- Matt, Mike, Jenny and I- did.

Now, in CPT training, we work a lot on group dynamics, facilitating meetings, and the consensus process. We do role plays, we learn how to "actively listen", and we use a lot of flip charts. When you work so hard on it, its easy to forget that not every meeting will go the same way. This one, while entertaining and informative, certainly did not.

Picture a very large room, made entirely of cement floors cinder-block walls, and high ceilings. The only actual furniture in it is a television on a small cart. The other furnishings consisted of about a dozen foam mats, which are used for sleeping and sitting, in lieu of beds and couches. My aim here is to point out exactly how acoustically live that room is. Add to the mix about twenty five men, carrying on about ten conversations at once, and us- the best Arabic speaker in the bunch is only so-so, and the only English speaker in that group was not seated very close to us- trying to catch on.

It was a melee. Sensory Input Overload. Voices resounding, arms waving. From time to time a new person would join the room, and five or six men would take the time to try to bring him up to speed on decisions we had no clue about. There was no consensus, no "active listening", and there were certainly no flip charts. We sat patiently, trying to catch conversation, and asking questions to things that related to our role for that day.

All of a sudden next to me, Jenny fell silent. She was one of our two Arabic speakers, and had been listening hard to keep us two non-speakers informed. She kind of just sat back against the wall, now, and silently observed the room.

And then she said, barely turning to me, and sort of sotto-voce, "Amy, my life is not normal."

Silence again.

And then "I mean, look at my life- look at this! This is not a normal life!"

And truly, she was right.

And I empathized.

My life is not normal. It never will be again. I must learn to accept this. It is exciting, but it can be wearing. Or is the other way around?
violachic: (groooooovy (neopets))
Did I mention I had an enormous layover in Milan on my way to Palestine?

milan )
violachic: (Default)
Not down to the nitty-gritty quite yet. I'm trying to ease y'all in.

more )


Dec. 30th, 2005 02:24 pm
violachic: (Default)
Just a few pictures from my time overseas. More later. Its a real pain in the ass to upload pictures to Photobucket on dial-up!

Beit CPT* )

cute kids )

miscellaneous village life )

Jerusalem, Old City )

More to come, periodically.

*"Beit" means house. Saying "Beit So-and-so" is like the French way of saying "Chez Paul", or "at so-and-so's house".
violachic: (Default)
I'm still alive.

I'm tired, but happy.

I don't really want to come home, but I will anyway.

The next week will be psycho, as I'll be going between both teams, preparing to fly out, visiting the conservatory, and spending time with my Jerusalem friends before I leave. At least I'm sure I'll sleep on the plane!

Not looking forward to getting through the airport on my way out. Might just have to brace myself for a 3-hour interrogation. "Have you talked to any Arabs?" "Well actually.... maybe one or two..." Could be the most stressful part of the whole trip. Besides the whole saying goodbye to people who have come to mean a lot to me.


Just thought I'd let you all know. I'm still alive.
violachic: (Default)
A happy belated birthday to [ profile] pheret1!

[ profile] polyfrog gets a gold star for being the first person to call me.

I'm currently in our "office" apartment, and I'll be spending the night with our Hebron team. Tomorrow morning I'll continue on to Jerusalem for a few days off, where then I'll meet the Hebron and Tuwani combined teams for a two-day retreat. We'll be back in the village by Thursday night.

Things are good, but a bit tense. [ profile] pheret1 has details if you're interested. No problems- mushkela- yet, really, but a lot of waiting around and hoping there won't be a mushkela.

The CPT/OD house may or may not have acquired a puppy. I probably won't know for sure until I get back there on Thursday.

I'm tired, and have so many mosquito bites I look like I have some kind of disease. Thankfully, malaria is not an issue here. I'm ready for a few days off! I starting tomorrow (I don't think I have time this afternoon) I will have a hot shower every day for five days. What a relief!

More emailing and journal updating over the next few days. I promise.
violachic: (groooooovy (neopets))
Okay, so first off, apologies for not being in better contact, in general. I'm not sure why I was under the illusion I'd have more internet access than this, but.... I don't.

I'm fine, in fact I'm great. I'm loving being here. So far, I've lost almost ten pounds, and have a great tan- at least from the elbows down. Its very gogogo here, but in a different way than I'm used to. Its very focused, and one-task oriented, although the single task has many facets to it. We're way out in the country, away from running water, electricity (we do get about five hours a night, from a diesel generator), or internet connection. Its kind of like an extended camping trip. We do, however, share a single-room house, which can be a bit wearing from time to time when you're trying to step around five or six people. Luckily, its still warm out, and until a couple night ago were sleeping outside. We also have a decent-sized yard, and sometimes take chairs out to edge to be by ourselves.

Right now I'm taking an overnight-off- not exactly a day off, but close- in Yatta, which is the nearest urban-type center to our village, and where we keep a small apartment that serves as an office, a way-station between Tuwani and Hebron or Tuwani and Jerusalem, and a place to take a day or so away from the country.

I've been online for about two hours, and have managed to reply to all the emails already in my inbox, peruse LJ a tad (not easy after being away for a week!), and do a little updating. Right now, my brain is a bit fried, so I'm going to pop a DVD into the computer, and afterwards I will do some more emailing, and a major update to my Big Girl Blog.

In case you're wondering, I'm ecstatically happy.

ADD post

Oct. 8th, 2005 01:59 pm
violachic: (Default)
By this time tomorrow, I will have my very own cell phone! This means that if you are willing to pay the rates, and stay up till the middle of the night, you can call me. I will be calling my sister with the number as soon as its humanitarianly possible, and if you feel you deserve this number, you can get ahold of her to get it.

We all decided it would be easier if I waited till some of the team came to church on Sunday to fetch me, and then went back down to Hebron together. I wasn't feeling great when I landed, plus catching the bus is more complicated than it used to be, so it is almost imperative there is someone there to shepherd me. No sweat. Four days alone in Jerusalem, worshipping in the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, lunch on the team, and company. Who can complain?

No big, profound updates today. I'm too tired.

Okay, American men. I haven't been able to take a break from beating off Italian and mideastern men with a stick. What's wrong with you? Where's that line out my door at home? Eh? Turns out I won't have to pay for another piece of jewelry again in Jerusalem if I just keep smiling nicely at shopkeepers.

Gotta love the shopkeeper who's opening line is "Would you like to come give me a chance to rip you off?"

Umm.... tried to do the Via Dolorosa today, but the map was unclear. We (I made a friend in the hostel, and we are checking things out together today) only got about a third of the stations.

Why is it some of the best pizza I've ever had in my life comes from Israel/Palestine? It wasn't even this good in Milan.

Wow, don't I sound like hoity-toity world traveler type?

Postcards are addressed. If I am lucky I will get stamps and mail them tomorrow. Otherwise they don't go out for another week. Inshallah, you might even get them before I return home.

Tomorrow is my last flush toilet for at least a week. Maybe more, if I can't come into Jerusalem for church next Sunday. Oi.

Souvenir requests will be taken. If they are large and need to be shipped home, send me money. If it is expensive, send me money. I don't have paypal anymore, but I can get to a Western Union office. Heck, send me money anyway. I succumbed to a shopkeeper with beautiful, soulful eyes yesterday. Double oi.

Note to self: From now on when traveling alone in a foreign country, wear ring on third finger of left hand, and don't have any qualms regarding lying about being married.

Nap time.

P.S. Hey, this feels like a vacation. Who knew?
violachic: (Default)
So I'm here. Okay, I'm most of the way here.

[ profile] pheret1, consider this your phone call. I thought about calling you, but we're 8 hours ahead, and...well, check out the time of the post if you're wondering.

I finally made it to Jerusalem, where I checked into the hostel about seven this morning. I did the very thing you're not supposed to do after traveling long distances and changing multiple time zones- I promptly crashed out for about four hours. I'm not all that worried about the jet lag thing, though. Since I don't have much of a circadian rhythm to begin with, couple that with the fact that I'm still beat, and I'm sure I have a nice, healthy 8 hours left in me for tonight.

A few gripes:

1)TSA are a bunch of buggers. When I checked my luggage, I asked them if it was okay for me to leave the locks on the luggage, but unlocked, so they could do their searches, and then lock the bags. They cheerfully said "sure!" When I retrieved my bag this morning at Tel Aviv, the locks were not on the suitcase at all. And my CPT material was gone. So I don't know, actually, if it was TSA, or if the locks got cut off either in Milan or Tel Aviv, but either way I'm pretty upset. If they removed the CPT brochures because if the "political" content, though, I'm confused why they left my "Arabic in Ten Minutes A Day" book. Strange stuff.

2)Alitalia is a crap airline. All their planes I've flown in- a total of six, now- are small, dirty, and unprepared. They constantly run out of things like toilet paper, and never have enough pillows and blankets to go around. I don't like Alitalia. Unfortunatly, they're cheap, which is why CPT keeps using them. I have a very strong hope that next time I come on project I fly Lufthansa. I hear they're practically luxury!

3)Malpensa Airport is a hole. Luckily, the mass transit system in the greater Milan area seems to work quite well, so getting out into the city, and getting back to the airport was quite smooth. But the airport is much like Alitalia itself- dirty, small and unprepared. I didn't use a bathroom all day where the toilet actually flushed properly, or the stall door closed and locked properly. And it wasn't just me, either. There was always a kind of Sisterhood of Bad Bathroom Solidarity, with all of us women going "how do you actually lock this damn thing...?" in six different languages. Eye rolling translates universally.

Okay, thanks. Had to get that off my chest. Feel better, now.

Checking in at O'Hare went easily, and I managed to move slowly enough and entertain myself so I didn't have a lot of thumb-twiddling time before I had to board. I immediately made friends with my seat-mate, a young Polish girl who had spent the summer doing a work-exchange program at Cedar Point amusement park. She was very interested in CPT's work, and since she is studying Political Science, she really is interested in our Iraq program.

Once we landed in Milan, I braced myself for my thirteen-hour layover. I made the decision to go into the city and see some sights, so I grabbed a map, got a few directions, and hopped on the train. My CTA training has served me well, and I was pleased to find how easily I could navigate their subway system, even though the only word I actually recognized was "fermata". I got off at the "Duomo" stop, and wandered around there for awhile. I didn't end up seeing a whole lot, due to a combination of a very heavy carry-on bag, pouring rain, and my own exhaustion, but I got quite a few shots of the cathedral, and wandered over into the Piazza della Scala, and ogled the opera house. I was pleased to find a monument to Leonardo Da Vinci in the square there. I feel as if I'm taking the entire Leonardo Life Tour, albeit slowly. I have very vivid memories of visiting the Clos Luce at Amboise when I was in France eleven and a half years ago, which is where he spent the last few years of his life, and died.

I got about twenty pictures, but I can't post them until I can get my laptop hooked up to an internet line.

I then headed back to the airport, where I snoozed,watched a DVD on my computer, ate dinner, and did some general thumb-twiddling until our 10:45 departure time. I ended up sleeping much of the four-hour flight between Milan and Tel Aviv, which helped my bearings a great deal. We landed in Tel Aviv at 3:30 am, where I was pleased to find that I breezed through passport control without as much as an askance look from security. I claimed my baggage, grabbed something that vaguely resembled breakfast, and went outside in search of a nesher that would bring me to Jerusalem.

I got dropped at the Jaffa Gate a little before seven. It was eerie, being back there finally, being back alone, and standing around all the closed-up shops. The air was still cool, and the sun was just starting to rise in earnest. It was a beautiful moment, and I'll remember it for the rest of my life.

The biggest plus to arriving while the shops were closed was how easy it was to find St. Mark's Road. Where it breaks off from David Street (the main road coming into the city straight from Jaffa Gate) is a staircase that during the day looks like it leads directly into a shop. There are quite a few shops that are set way back into the stone, that require some kind of creative access, such as a short flight of stairs, and this turn is almost impossible to find while the shops are open. Heading down St Mark's Road, I wearily buzzed the door at the Lutheran Hostel, and checked myself in for the next twenty-four hours. Although guests are technically supposed to vacate the dormitories for several hours in the morning for cleaning, I found myself unable to be vertical any longer, changed into my pajamas, and collapsed into sleep. Nobody seemed worried that I hadn't vacated.

After a few hours of sleep and a very nice shower (although I forgot to pack a towel- I had to dry off using a t-shirt- I think I am heading out after this to buy a towel), I sallied forth into the city in search of Mike's Internet Cafe.

Which just about brings us up to date.

The rest of the plan:

- Call the Hebron team, and set up for someone to meet me at the servees in the morning, in time for the team meeting.

- Find something to eat. Easier said than done, in this part of town during Ramadan.

- Wander the city. Check out the Arab market. Enjoy window shopping (too early for souvenir shopping- things will get lost or broken before I can get them home)

- At some point, eat dinner, relax, read (in no particular order).

- Sleep early, so I can rise early.

- Check out by 7 am, catch a servees at the Damascus Gate that will take me to Hebron.

- Join team!

And that puts us a little bit into the future.

Whew! That took so long, just for a logistical update! Hopefully once logistics fall into a semblance of a routine there will be more introspective reports.

In the meantime, Shanah Tova, and Ramadan Kareem!

**Ed. note- a slightly edited edition of this post- edited for diplomacy and basic maturity- will be cross-posted to my Big Girl Blog.**


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