Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Checking In at Ramallah

Today I went to Ramallah in the West Bank. The separation wall is just 10 minutes from east Jerusalem, but it's another 30 mins to the city center after crossing the checkpoint. So, it's very close. This photo is from the visit to Samaria farther to the north, but it gives an idea of what the separation wall looks like.

It was a warm, pleasant day - 68F/20C, more like winter in Los Angeles, then the cold, grey Melbourne winter. I met with Adel Yahya, who directs the Palestinian Association for Cultural Exchange. PACE is an NGO, which creates tourist guides, protects some archaeological sites in the West Bank, and works to revive local crafts and sell the products of local craftsmen. He showed me around the area including the remains of a church said to be on the site where Jesus preached and the place where Arafat is buried. Then, we had lunch at his brother's restaurant.

Afterward, I spent some time on my own walking around downtown Ramallah - it's a crowded and lively city wtih an amazing array of all kinds of stuff for sale. Strangely enough you can buy an number of American foods here that aren't available in Australia.

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