Thursday, 17 March 2011

Chapter 42 The good Samaritans

'Sara, don't you think you've been in Nablus too long if "Amish night out" has become your idea of a good time?'

'They're not Amish - they're Samaritans.'

'I thought Samaritans were Christians.'

'Well you're just ignorant then aren't you.'

~~~flash back to five months earlier~~~

'Aren't Samaritans Christians?' I venture as we pile into our onthevergeofbreakdown green minivan.

They're not.

The Samaritans are an ethnic group who trace their ancestry back to the biblical Israelite tribes. They follow a religion closely related to Judaism but with a different Torah and some key differences.

Over time their numbers have dwindled to the hundreds and they now live split between two villages. One close to Tel Aviv and the other on top Mount Gerizim, Nablus.

Marriage to other religions is prohibited. This has resulted in some issues of the genetic variety. In an effort to combat this, there has been some recent dabbling in mail order brides and the tenuous business of finding women suitable to be a part of their small community.

A work in progress.

But I digress.

As mentioned above, the Samaritans live on top of Mount Gerizim in Nablus in Kiryat Luza.

It would be remiss to miss out the fact that I have only ever heard Kiryat Luza referred to as 'The Samaritan Village' and, were it not for the wonder that is Wikipedia, would have remained blissfully ignorant of the fact that The Samaritan Village does in fact have an actual name which is not just a defining adjective thrown in front of a generic noun.

Again - I digress.

The Samaritan Village was the destination of our onthevergeofbreakdown green minivan on that balmy night.

Why? I hear you ask.

As I have mentioned before - possibly repeatedly - Nablus is dry.

Now I grew up in Dubai in the days when you needed a license to buy alcohol. I've spent weeks at a time in Kuwait where you have to pay ridiculous money for a bottle of bootleg whisky. I have friends who live in Saudi Arabia who have wilder parties than I've attended in London.

Not so in Nablus. Nablus takes dry to a whole new level. It's not that it's illegal. It's that nobody drinks it. There are simply not enough people who want it to merit any kind of supply chain.

Believe me, we have spent six months searching for the mythical secret Nablus bar. There isn't one.

Which is why we've sunk to the level of shamefacedly returning from trips to other cities with bags clinking all the way home.

Ah, but The Samaritan Village.

A 15 minute car ride, one easy peezy check point and a ride in the back of a truck away lies our happy place. A tiny warehouse tucked behind a convenience store with bottles lining the walls where a friendly Samaritan tallies up our orders.

Nothing lights up the eyes of the foreigners like the words 'I'm going to the SV, anybody want anything?'. Last time we went up we returned with two boxes.

I must say I do have fond memories of popping across the street for a bottle of red.

The 'good times' as we often refer to them.

So a quick thank you to our neighbors on the hill.

You are indeed good Samaritans.