My 25th birthday was on Tuesday and I definitely felt really homesick that day. Don't get me wrong - this has been a wonderful trip and an amazing opportunity, but there's really no place like home and I was missing family, friends, my doggies, and food (I always miss food when I travel). I haven't started my internship here yet, but Michael has. So he went off to work and I lounged around, Skyped with my mom, and caught up on my email.
Naer, our door man/security guy here at the apartment building comes knocking on the door. He does that a lot. He'll come by to see if everything is okay and sometimes chat for a minute. He invited me and Michael to his home to have dinner and also offered to take us shopping downtown. There were no bath towels when we moved in and I needed a pot to cook with -- and there's no Walmart, Target, or Bed Bath and Beyond, so I had no idea where to find these items and I was tired of air drying after my showers!
So we bought everything we needed and headed over to his house to meet his family. I can't say this enough - these people are the most incredibly generous, kind, welcoming and sincere people I've ever met! I am in awe of the hospitality they've shown to me - a complete stranger. When I left home, a lot of people were worried that Muslim people here would be hateful towards me for being American, but if anything - they love that I'm American and treat me like a guest of honor. It's very touching and I almost feel bad because they're just so nice.
Naer has a HUGE family (which reminds me a lot of my Myers side of the family) and each and every one of them was so excited to have us in their home. Although Naer and his cousin Rasha were the only ones who spoke English, it wasn't a problem. I felt very comfotable and not awkward at all as everyone asked us questions in Arabic and someone would translate. They mostly wanted to know when we would be having babies hahahaha! They said "make the sex and have the babies." I couldn't stop laughing.
Naer has five children and a bunch of nieces and nephews who were all ADORABLE with big brown eyes and dark hair. They took us to their garden where they have grapes growing from the vine and a peach tree. Of course, they insisted that we take some fruit home with us and gave me a bag full of grapes.
Look at this little guy on the far right in the pic below!
Hahaha - that face cracks me up : )
We had to wait until 6:30 to eat because of Ramadan. It was worth the wait. They prepared a huge feast and we sat around the room on pillows. I guess it's the traditional way. Everything was delicious. I've been struggling with cooking here because the grocery stores are minimal and there aren't a lot of foods that I'm used to cooking. So it was a treat to have all this food!
This is Naer : ) And cute fat baby in the background.
Grandma bringing the goat meat and rice! Mmm!
So we ate until we couldn't fit anymore food in our bellies, and then went up to the roof to hang out. Just when I thought we were done eating, they bring out this huge platter of tons of different fruits. Not wanting to be rude, I ate more. I don't know how I fit it in my stomach! Then, they brought us coffee. Luckily it was a small cup. The weather is so nice in the evenings. We sat and talked while the men smoked hookah and the little kids played.
The kids really loved to take pictures.
Then, Naer and his family asked us to come back inside for a surprise. It's all dark when I come down except for a cake with a bunch of candles and the little kids are singing me Happy Birthday with a delicious cake from the nice bakery downtown! It was so cute!
Naer's family really touched my heart. Whenever I would try to thank them, they would say "no need to thank us - this is how it is in Palestine." I couldn't help but to feel a little bad knowing their family probably doesn't have a lot of money and they spared no expense on my birthday. They've definitely inspired me to be less selfish and more giving. It was so nice to meet them all and they really made my birthday very special!