Week 1 in Ramallah

January 23, 2015 § Leave a comment

Well, I promised to give the blogging thing another try, so here goes…

It’s been one working week since I arrived in Ramallah on Sunday. If I’m honest, it feels like I’ve been here at least twice as long! Work has been extraordinarily busy but I’m grateful for a calmer day today. It’s Friday and most people are off work. Weekends here are quite varied, some people have Friday and Saturday, some Saturday and Sunday, some Friday and Sunday. Anyway today’s been lovely and calm.  I’ve finally managed to unpack after moving into my new flat on Wednesday, and had a very successful trip to the fruit & veg market – highly necessary as I’ve mostly been feasting on bread, labneh (a yoghurty spread… trust me it’s amazing) and za’atar this week!

Friday might become my market day, it’s so much quieter as most people are at home after Friday prayers. I don’t want to make anyone jealous, but it seems to be the perfect time for strawberries here…! It has taken me a bit of time to get used to the exchange rate – and the West Bank isn’t cheap – but think I’ve kind of got the hang of what reasonable prices are now (not before getting a little burnt – 10 shekels for 2 onions and 4 tomatoes is definitely too much!). I’ve made myself a rule that I can’t buy anything if I don’t know what it’s called in Arabic, so I had to walk past avocados and celeriac today. It’s pretty difficult not to get carried away and buy ALL the food!

I absolutely love this city – Ramallah is like a micro version of Cairo, but significantly quieter and with a lot more hills. Our apartment is on the ground floor, but the view from the front balcony/ conservatory (yes, ground floor balcony!) stretches for miles. Oh and there’s a garden! I’m sharing with a lovely Palestinian woman from Nablus, who coincidentally works on IHL education with an organisation in Jerusalem.

I’m contemplating joining the Ramallah Runners (part of the Right to Movement campaign) but literally every street is a hill. I’m definitely nowhere near fit enough! Having said that, I’ve got grand plans to join the gym and have signed up for a 5k in Bethlehem in 2 weeks. The most challenging (non-work related) thing so far is the cold! Even when it’s lovely and sunny outside, it’s absolutely freezing indoors – I miss central heating! I’ve been sleeping in a hoodie with layers of blankets, which does work, but it makes getting up so much harder (I think everyone who knows me know how terrible I am at mornings… some of you more so than others!).

Work… well. It’s been a whirlwind of a week really. I arrived after midnight on Sunday after a 2 hour wait at the airport (nothing compared to the 12 hours of questioning two of our volunteers were subjected to…) and was straight into meetings from 10am on Monday morning. My volunteers arrived a week before I did so I’ve been playing catch-up since I got here. However, we’ve got some incredible project partners here and I’m really looking forward to seeing how things progress! I’ll try and do a post on each partner in the coming weeks. In the meantime, here’s a wee photo of my workspace last Tuesday morning….

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(I’m posting the odd photo/ video on Instagram as well – shab.ana for those interested)

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