In November, a group of 18 (15 European, 3 Palestinian) visitors from Beit Sahour/Bethlehem spent the night in Al Aqaba as part of a group tour around the Northern West Bank. Most of the group lives and works in Beit Sahour, many at the Alternative Information Center. They came to learn about the situation in Al Aqaba, Jordan Valley and Area C.
While I’d been fretting over how we’re going to fit everyone in with only 11 beds and 3 winter blankets and no heaters, the leaders of the group assured me that Haj Sami had been upfront about our situation, and their standards for accommodations were fortunately very low. They’d been told to expect tents…or something. So I relaxed a bit.
We started off with a meeting with Haj Sami, where everyone whipped out their notebooks and Haj Sami had Nassir, the translator, explain the story of Al Aqaba in English. People asked questions about the military camps and demolition orders, and I was able to answer a few questions, like the army actually said that Al Aqaba looks like South Lebanon, as their reason for using the village for training…I made a mental note to learn more of the history because some of it still baffles me.
The rest of the night consisted of the following:
- Pick-up sticks
- Italian revolutionary sing-a-longs
- Eating vegetable soup
- Playing mafioso, a “campfire” game….
- Playing a card game called Dixit
- A bedtime story: Where the Wild Things Are
Then we played some more music and went to bed. We had to put mattresses together and put three people on them, someone slept on the couch, I’m quite positive that everyone was freezing in their little summer blankets. Fortunately, some brought sleeping bags.
We woke up at 7:20AM to Abdullah yelling “the mafioso has killed our driver, and stolen our bus, and now we have to go back to Beit Sahour by walking!” I’m usually the grumpiest person in the morning, but I was laughing so hard then. I didn’t want them to go.
Then we took a tour of the village and the demolished roads, most everyone signed my guest book, and I promised to visit them all in Beit Sahour the next weekend.