nathanaels (nathanaels) wrote,

Note from Israel

I spent the last couple days visiting sites around the West Bank.  It is a surprisingly beautiful landscape with fascinating tectonic features.  It is narrow valley bounded on either side by beautiful mountains that turn various shades of red as the sun rises and sets, but it is a harsh, dry terrain.  I was pleased to discover that my language abilities have progressed enough to have real, meaningful exchanges in Arabic at last, and the single best thing about the West Bank are the Palestinian people.  Never in my life have I met a nicer or more friendly people, and while there may be extenuating circumstances because of my obvious foreignness, I cannot ever remember meeting so many kind people in a single place.

The poverty is abundant and obvious, and it is one of the only ubiquitous things I found there.  There are substantial cultural differences between different cities, which every Palestinian is happy to describe if you ask them, and this includes political and religious variations.  Ramallah seems to be the most religiously intense place, while Hebron (Khalil) seems to be the most politically charged.

It was an interesting experience to visit the tombs of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but my favorite site was the 9000 year old fortification tower at Jericho, the oldest known defensive construction in the world.

I would like to write more about this, but I need some more time to process everything.  It is an intense place.

Alas, I remain in good spirits and health.  My feet have seen better days, but I feel great and have a awesome tan.  I leave Israel tomorrow with my small bag, and after a few days rest in Europe, I will be back in NYC.  Check back in about a week when I will upload some pictures with some lengthy analysis of the whole trip.
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