From life in Israel to life in Palestine.

David left in the morning to fly back home.

I moved to Bethlehem to spend time at the Palestinian side and to experience life in the region from a different perspective.

I have one week left in this four months journey and now I am beginning to panic.  There is just not enough time and not enough opportunity to take it all in.  Where did all this time go?!

Before moving on — I caught up with the last few missing blog entries and with hundreds of images which lay neglected.  Since I have little to say about the journey – same old bus 24 to the check point, same crowded spot of taxi drivers who descend on you like birds of pray — and I have no new pictures, I will dig out some odd images for the visuals today.

Here are just a couple of small things:

The taxi driver who took me to my tourism office at 3 PM in the afternoon claimed that I was his first job for the day.  I paid him the going rate for the ride – thank goodness, I did not have to ask how much that would be, I remembered from my last visit – and he started to complain.  He wanted double.  In other words, he wanted me to make up for the lack of tourists and his lack of work.  This was a dilemma.  I feel for him, but I can not be used or abused or held responsible for his economic situation.  I felt very much cornered and uncomfortable.  I offered him $2 extra but even that was not enough.  I finally just walked away.

I will live with a Christian family for the next few days.  I have my own room and share a bathroom.  For now, there are two more roommates.  20 year old Heather from Ohio and 40 year old Tom from California.  Breakfast and dinner are part of the deal and I am looking forward to many discussions and insights, hopefully.  My room overlooks a huge settlement.

Just as I had pulled out a chair onto the balcony, across the valley left of the settlement a shooting incident occurred.  Our host pulled out binoculars and we watched the load of three Palestinian Army jeeps storm a deserted house.  Some civilians ran out, others were crowded in on the roof top.  The details were hard to make out.  Was this a case of a Hamas or otherwise extremists hideout?  Was it the arrest of a criminal?  There had been no shootings in years, I was assured.  But in 2002, shortly after the settlement sprung up across the valley the houses on this street had been under Israeli shelling for three full months following the shooting of the settlement by some Palestinian teenagers.  If I believe the reports it was a very heavy-handed, disproportionate response which drove my host family into one back room protected by a wall every night.  Eleven people were crowding on the floor in that room like the sardines to escape the nightly shells.  One of his daughters has defect from that time.  I have to find out more.

I think I will have my hands full here.

Good night.

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