It is ten in the morning. I am sitting in a busy cafe, the sound of beeping taxis and market vendors wafts in from the street. Inside, fashionably dressed young people sit and take a coffee, read the newspaper and update their Facebooks. A waiter comes around with a tray of cappuccinos, little cookies and an Americano. He smiles as he hands me my drink.
It’s all so lovely and normal. A quiet morning in a busy cafe. I’m jotting down blogging notes and inhaling my first coffee of the day.
But today, I am in Ramallah. The West Bank. Palestine.
Post-coffee, I exit the cafe, Kara behind me, the tour group in front of me. Our fearless Palestinian guide Tamer from Abraham Tours is a mixture of jokes and seriousness, proudly showing us this beautiful city. As we walk the streets, Tamer points out the market, the city center and favorite cafes. We stop by the Yasser Arafat memorial, guarded by youthful Palestinian guards, smiling shyly at us. They’re not supposed to take photos with us, Tamer says, but its okay: We are friends.
Why can’t life always be this easy?
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Zones A, B & C. Refugee camps. Settlements. Check points. Separations that feel unnatural for us Westerners, but for many here in the West Bank, this is life. The Israeli West Bank barrier has been being built since the early 2000s. Now covered in graffiti and art, the wall become a work of art in itself. A piece of concrete that separates and divides, yet covered in messages of hope from all over the world.
After a full day of exploring the West Bank, it is time for us to leave Tamer and return to Abraham Hostel. Our driver slows down, and drops Tamer off before a checkpoint. He cannot continue on with us to Jerusalem without a permit.
Today was about walls. It was also about seeing two beautiful cultures and so many wonderful people and wondering what it is that really separates us. Today was about remembering the past but being able to have hope for a better future.
Dare to dream of peace.
For more information about eye-opening tours and adventures around Israel, visit TouristIsrael.com.