My grandmother lives in a very old house that her family built. It is a one-roomed, high ceiling, domed building, with a big courtyard around, all within a gate that separates it from the other houses. The courtyard has a lemon tree, a pomelo tree, a guava tree, grape vines, and a pomegranate tree. The kitchen is another building within the yard, and there’s another old house that my cousin lives in with his 3 young kids. So my grandmother and I sleep in the same room, which is also the living room and the only room.
This morning at seven, I was sleeping when I heard Sitti muttering. Then she shouted “RANA!” When I sleepily replied, “should I get up?” she said “oh no… do whatever you want.” So of course I had to get up.
We spent an hour filling plastic bottles with olives from our trees that she will be sending across seas to my mother and my uncle in Boston.
Later I had lunch at my uncle’s house, which is, uncoincidentally, also beautiful. They have a courtyard with trees so tall that they have total privacy.
When I arrived, women from the neighbourhood were coming in and out and we spent an hour picking mloukhieh leaves off the stem. The farmer who sells it came through town today with a loud speaker, so some of them brought what they bought and the women picked at it together.
It was a beautiful ride to Nablus, and when I arrived I started calling ISMers for directions. I asked someone randomly on the street, and they said they would drive me (I had 3 bags because sitti sent me away with bottles of olives & olive oil). I got into the car and his wife joined without questioning what I was doing in their car. Not many places in the world is it so normal to invite strangers into your spaces.
Other than that, the olives taste great, and I’m going to go claim a bed before they run out. We will harvest olives with families that are near settlements in Bureen.
I went into Jenin again today, with some relatives. I decided to buy a pair of closed toed shoes, despite the frugality I’ve tried to maintain, and then we ran into my aunt who saw that I must like shoes and bought me another pair in a different colour. Can’t complain. We had to rush back to Qabatia and Sitti and I went to my uncle’s farm. It is so beautiful out there. The house is made of big white stones and is well isolated from any other homes. They have a rose garden, and orange, olive, palm, and lemon trees out front. They raise olive, grape, and ornamental plants for sale to other farmers.
We saw the house my mother was born in, which is now locked up and full of blackened pieces of furniture because the Israelis burned the whole inside of a while back.
Today I went with my relatives (the connection is much too long for me to remember) to pick olives for the morning.
We ate lunch in the trees, and right after, sitti arrived in a taxi to bring me to my uncle’s house for lunch …. So as usual, I was fattened.
I woke up from my first night in Qabatia fe bait Sitti, at my grandma’s house. She fed me twice what I normally eat of course, and then my aunt sent a car to bring me to their house in Jenin.
Anyways, I have to get back to eating since everyone here seems to want to fatten me up and my aunt is serving mloukhieh!