Taybeh

Day two at the UNRWA clinic. We switched our doctors today to keep things interesting. So I was in Dr. Halu’s NCD (non-communicable disease) clinic today. This is diabetes and hypertension and other chronic diseases. Coffee/tea lady is fascinated by us, and is determined to communicate. She came up to us before we left and exclaimed “Jon Cena!”. Evidently, her version of American culture revolves around professional wrestling. Go ‘Merica.

The afternoon was a tour of the Am’ari camp, which is actually more of a neighborhood, or ghetto, within Ramallah. The camps were never meant to be permanent, so there is a definite lack of civic planning. The streets are narrow and winding, some streets only wide enough for people to pass on foot. Graffiti in red, black, and green covers the walls.

The afternoon was a visit to the Taybeh brewery. The brewery is owned by, you guessed it, Harb’s relatives. Harb’s cousin Madees runs the brewing and gave us a tour. She is an example of the Palestinian “diaspora”, the phenomenon of young Palestinians living abroad while studying before returning to the West Bank. She has an MBA, speaks fluent English, and gets American humor better than Harb does (more on that later). We were invited in for dinner with Harb’s relatives, which was a massive meal. Seriously, they never stop feeding us. We never get close to finishing what they bring to the table.  If you clear your plate in Palestine, it just signals your host to heap more food on it.

But it’s all delicious, so who’s complaining. I shall return to my fiancé in a more soft and cuddly shape.

The brewery was quite a gamble for the family. How many successful breweries do you know of in primarily Muslim countries? But Taybeh is a Christian village, and the family is Greek Orthodox like Harb, and they were partially Americanized. Madees and her family’s brewery is a story with a common theme among the Palestinian friends we’ve made. They return from education abroad to build companies and cities, to be doctors and teachers and engineers. They do this despite the hardships imposed by the occupation. It is hard enough to run a brewery. Imagine doing in when your water is shut off without notice, when the roads around your city are arbitrarily closed. Imagine running a company thru Intafada and gunfire. The word that comes to mind is “patriotism”.

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