Thursday, September 29, 2011

sick sick sick

We've both been so sick this past week!  And with different illnesses.  I've had a horrible cold and Michael had the flu mixed with a repsiratory infection.  I'm trying to tough it out, but Michael finally went to the doctor after missing work for a few days and they gave him a shot and a ton of medicine.

People here are very into natural medicine, and I'm starting to like it.  They give us this tea with a little bit of sugar and lime juice  It helps!  If not for this tea I would've lost my voice.

So many medicines!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

un bid for statehood

This article is about a protest held at the border checkpoint called Qalandia here in Ramallah.  At the beginning of my post on Tel Aviv you can see photos I took of this major checkpoint.  It was closed down the day of the demonstration so that no one could enter or leave Ramallah.  It definitely gives me a claustrophobic feeling being walled into the city, but I think the border is open again.

This is a photo of the wall at Qalandia where the demonstration was.

The eyes of the world are on Israel and Palestine right now due to Palestinians going to the UN to request statehood.  Over 100 countries are in support, but since the United States has veto power and vows to use it, it doesn't look like anything is going to happen. 

The city is very festive right now and I think people are hopeful for change, but realistic that not much progress is going to happen in the UN.  I just hope things stay non-violent and peaceful.  I've seen many news camera crews filming and a big stage has been set up downtown for large gatherings in the city.  Here's a photo of dowtown Ramallah decked out with Paletinian flags.

Friday, September 16, 2011

downtown ramallah

Last weekend, Michael and I strolled around town just learning our way around.  Michael was looking for a bookstore and I just wanted to shop and enjoy the walk.  Downtown Ramallah is a busy place with people walking in all directions and taxis driving around.  There are tons of food vendors, cafes, and shops along the sidewalk.  The buildings are a dull tan color, but the noises, smells and sights are anything but dull.  I know I'll definitely miss the smell of freshly baked bread!  Mmm!

Ramallah is actually very pedestrian friendly because the traffic gets so congested that the cars can't really drive very fast.  Sometimes I even walk in the street when the sidewalks are too crowded.  I actually get to walk through the city every morning on my way to work.  At first, I was really stressed out about it (not knowing my way around), but now I try to enjoy it. 

Also, people are super friendly here.  When we walk downtown, people approach us all the time.  They like to talk to Michael about soccer and ask us where we're from.  Most people respond with "I love America!"  We've given out our email to a few people and they've actually kept in touch with us. 

One night, we went to the grocery store and a guy helped us find some stuff we were confused about since it's all in Arabic.  He was so nice, and he didn't work there.  He was shopping too.  We had too many groceries to carry home, so we tried to hail a cab, but there were no cabs in sight.  This guy saw us in the parking lot as he was about to leave and actually offered us a ride home.  That's just not normal back home, but here, it's not weird.  People are kind to strangers.  He drove us home and helped us carry our bags.  It never ceases to amaze me how generous people here are.  And I really don't know how we would've made it home without his help.

Another thing I like here is that I haven't experienced any disrespectful men trying to hit on me or anything like that.  As a woman, you hear a lot of negative stereotypes about the way men act toward women, but Ramallah is considered a much more modern city within the Middle East.  I'm not excpeted to cover my hair, and I see many women who don't cover their heads either.  Women generally dress much more conservatively here (myself included), but still - I haven't had anyone yelling at me, cat calling me, or hitting on me.  And I love that.  I feel totally safe walking around by myself.  I can't say the same for Atlanta where I've felt legitimately threatened by men. 

So... here are a few pictures of Ramallah:

 This is the main circle and center of downtown.

 This is the famous Stars + Bucks Cafe.
 Not to be confused with Starbucks ;-)

If you remember from my post about my birthday, Nael and his family treated me to some yummy food from the bakery downtown.  I was craving some sweets, so we made a pit stop there.  It all looked so good, but there were these things like Chocolate Eclairs that Nael bought us for my birthday - and I wanted them again!

 THESE are sooooo good!

 The filling isn't that heavy pudding stuff. 
It's fluffy, sweet and delicious!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

maqluba / upside down recipe

We finally learned to make a delicious and flavorful Palestinian dish!!!  It's so filling and pretty simple to make.  I made a little video blog about it so here ya go:

And here's another fellow blogger's recipe for Maqluba.  She's actually got a ton of really awesome recipes.  Maybe I'll try one later.

Friday, September 9, 2011

ramallah nightlife

We've slowly been learning our way around downtown Ramallah and finding different places to shop, eat, & hangout.  Last night, Michael's co-worker, Clio (she's French and her husband is Palestinian), invited us to a cafe called La Wain where some live music was being played.  We were eager to meet some new people and get out of the house, so we met up with her and sat down for some wine. 

It was actually so much fun!  Not that I expected it to be bad, but the music was unexpectedly incredible!  The performers are students at a music school around here and they rocked the house.  By the end of the night, they had the whole place clapping and dancing.  If I'd had a little more to drink and some girlfriends to dance with, I totally would have joined in.  The atmosphere was awesome and we really had a wonderful time.  I recorded some of the fun so you've gotta watch this video:

 Those are books on the ceiling above the stage!

The other section was decorated with umbrellas.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

tel aviv

Michael had some time off of work for Eid - the celebration of the end of Ramadan.  So we took the opportunity to take a day trip to Tel Aviv.  It's not so easy to get there.  It takes about four separate bus trips to make it from Ramallah to Tel Aviv.  I'd say it took us three hours to get there, but if we had our own car, it probably would only take an hour.  It was a pain to get there to say the least.  So much so, that we probably won't go back, but at least I got to see the city and put my toes in the Mediterranean!

If you're wondering why it's such a pain to get anywhere from Ramallah, here's one reason - due to the occupation, we have to get through secure checkpoints in order to leave the city.  The day we went to Tel Aviv, traffic was congested and it took about an hour to get to Jerusalem (which is 6 miles away).  And that's for those of us with American passports. For Palestinians it takes even longer.  Plus, there's no bus that goes directly from Ramallah to Tel Aviv.  So we had to go to Jerusalem then Tel Aviv.  It was too much traveling in one day!

 Here we are now in Jerusalem trying to find the bus we need.

 Going to Tel Aviv!  We finally found the bus we needed.
 They are called "sheruts" - which is a giant taxi/small bus.
 And four hours after leaving our apartment - we're walking the streets of Tel Aviv!
 So happy to get off the sherut and walk around!

 The sidewalk was awesome.
 We ate at La La Land and the service sucked.  Hummus was good.

 The sandbar was soooo pretty!!!!!!!!!

 Two chicks asked if we'd take their picture.
 I said yes - if they would take ours too.
Turns out they were lesbians and thought I was hot.

Here's a video of the view:

It was pretty, but we decided to call it a day and head back towards Jerusalem.  I really love it in Jerusalem!  Everything has so much history behind it and there's just so much beauty there.  We decided to check out a show called The Night Spectacular at The Tower of David Museum before we went home.  It was really cool to be in the Old City at night.  They project these huge images against the old walls.  It's easier to just watch the video because we weren't allowed to take any photos or videos during the show.

 The show is held inside the Citadel.
 I think this is the Tower of David.

 The tower from outside the walls.

 Walking through Old City Jerusalem was cool + a little scary.
 We dropped by the Dome and the Western Wall again.
From Jerusalem, we got a bus and headed home.  I went straight to the shower and collapsed in bed.  It was a fun day, but just so exhausting.