Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Chapter 117 Forbidden

I’m not going to lie, Cremisan wine is not great wine.

Palestinian olive oil is second to none, but the wine; it’s not great.

I mean, it’s not terrible wine either.

It’s probably closer to terrible then great. It is, however, wine. And it’s cheap. And easy for us to get.

And it’s produced by Salesian monks at a picturesque old monastery in the West Bank, standing just outside of Bethlehem, bordering the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Now, that’s pretty cool.

 They’re not incredibly friendly, the monks.

To be fair we only met the one. He was terse. In a stoic, European kind of way.

“Hi, we’ve heard we can get a tour of the winery?”


“Oh… ummmm are you sure? Cause I heard that you guys do that.”

Crosses arms


“Oh… well we came all this way.”

“It is forbidden. You can buy wine from the shop.”

He leads us to the shop and bends down to enter. He stands behind the cash register and regards us with blue eyes as we wander around awkwardly.

“Wow I didn’t know there were so many different kinds of Cremisan wines…”

Blank stare.

“So… how long have you been making wine.”


“And who actually makes it?”

“He is Italian, he helps us.”

“Oh… ok. So… just him then?”

Blank stare.

“Ummmm… so this is really lovely. Can we maybe walk around a little and see the gardens and the vineyard?”


“Uh-huh… so just the shop then?”

blank stare.

“Ummm… any reason why?”

“It is forbidden.”

Well you just can't argue with that now can you? 

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Chaper 116 A whiter shade of brown

Fair and lovely.

Lovely and fair.

Don't go in the sun and shade your face if you do.

Keep that complexion creamy and pale.

It's not that whitening creams are especially prolific in Nablus. They are easily found in most places nowadays, more's the shame.

Nor is it that Nabulsi women are not particularly dark as it is.  

It's that it's near impossible to find a non whitening face cream here. Despite the availability of almost every major brand including Olay, Garnier and Nivea - it's pretty much limited exclusively to their whitening lines.

Why? It's hip, it's trendy and it's oh so very close to the pictures of those nice ladies in magazines whose lives are oh so very different from theirs.


Friday, 18 May 2012

Chapter 115 Parent teacher conference

"Oh we expect to be in Nablus for a long time. Except if the Israelis attack... then we'll go to America."

"She's never gotten over when the PA took her father away for a month. After he was released, she would sob every time he left the house, even if he was just going to the store down the street, panicking that he wasn't coming back."

"I want my son's English to improve as much as possible so that he can get out of here one day and make a good life for himself."

"I'm so glad he's doing well at school. My wish is for him to become a politician one day and help change things for us."

Friday, 4 May 2012

Chapter 114 Seriously, hike

You thought I was kidding about the hiking stuff didn't you?

You smiled and nodded gently thinking it was the giddy excitement of novelty. You accepted them on the basis they resulted from the fallen standards of winter.

Trust me on this. Come. Hike. In. Palestine. If you're not the 'well let's just stop the car here and start walking type' then I've just the thing for you.

Walking Palestine, a soon to be released book detailed 25 stunning hikes in the West Bank. Painstakingly mapped out and written by Stefan Szepesi.

There's a sample chapter on his website which formed the basis of our last hike from Jenin down to the Christian/Muslim village of Zebebdeh.

An easy three hour stroll through warm, enveloping landscape.