Monday, May 6, 2013

A Personal Note, My First Day Off

Alternative Lodging

My first day off since arriving in Jerusalem/Bethlehem April 16 was May 4.  My EA experience here has included many happenings outside my comfort zone.  The activities of my first day off continued the stretch.  I had found the information about alternative tours and lodging on the web. 

I took the bus to Jerusalem, found a taxi driver willing to call the family where I would be staying and willing to bring me to the location. 
Because of the rules of the occupation, a couple of the first drivers I asked were unwilling to take me.

The location of the Mashni family home is in Shu’fat, East Jerusalem.  You can download wonderful maps from United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to track my travels.

I enjoyed the yard and flowers.  Seeing the care given to the flowers reminded me of my mother's garden in Muskegon, MI.

When I arrived, a “guard cat” was on duty at the top of the stairs.  

Once inside this shaded screened in porch and while drinking tea, we began conversations to get to know each other.  The parents in this family are both teachers and both their grown daughters are employed.  The daughters still live at home as is traditional in Muslim families.

I would love to be able to copy the decor of their coffee, and side tables.  Like me, this family identifies themselves as avid readers and it shows in their choice of tables.

More conversations and then together we ate wonderful dinner of traditional Palestinian food.  The main dish was Maqluba.  If I have it correct, its meaning is upside down and refers to the process of serving.  

The family carefully explained the rest of the food.

 It was the BEST food I have had so far!

After dinner, we gathered in a back room and continued out conversation.  The tradition of this family is to gather here and have after dinner coffee.

I now know how to make and serve Middle East coffee. 

The froth is very important!

Sorry about how bad my hair looks, call it my new sun hat hair style.

My living quarters were beyond my needs, spacious and equipped.  I will be glad to share contact information.

Breakfast eggs toast and the trimmings were delicious.  I found a new favorite food, Labaneth.  It is a white cheese spread with just the right amount of pepper pieces in it.

After breakfast and back on the screened porch, more dialogue on religion and the political realities in the area.

Upon leaving, I walked about two blocks, found the bus stop and rode back to Jerusalem near the old city where I had started my journey to the home stay.