The taxi driver arrives, the honking begins. We’re coming, we’re coming. I get in and tell him my co-worker is on the way, then I remember I forgot a book upstairs, so I run up. When I’ve gotten back to the taxi, my co-worker’s bag is in the car, but now he had forgotten something. He comes back quickly, as well, and we’re off. The driver is unclear as to whether or not he is supposed to drop us off in Ariha (Jericho) for the day or stay and wait until we’re done with our meeting. A back and forth about what is more pragmatic commences for the first 15 minutes of the drive out of town until he finally decides to just stay, but not before ascertaining a guarantee from us that the meeting won’t be over 2 hours. We give him our word.
Passing by Qalandia
Looks like a busy day.
The buses going to Hizme checkpoint should get some good business.
Passing by Hizme
Nope, still a busy day there too.
Maybe the soldiers had a bad night out and all woke up equally pissed.
Getting on the road to Ariha
“This looks new. The paint’s fresh even. Are they going to let us use this?” asked my co-worker.
“It is, brand new, actually. This is going to be the highway from Jerusalem to Jordan, but pretty soon we’ll be using the other road…you know, the one I mean, right? The one that wraps around…down there,” replied the driver.
“Ufff, of course I know the one you mean. God help us…that road is such shit…” he responded to the driver.
“This one will be just for the Jews, then?” I asked, knowing the response already.
They both nodded.
Driving down the new four lane highway
Sign reads: Below Sea Level
“Oh God!” exclaims the driver.
“What is it?” my co-worker and I ask.
“It’s only 9:15am, it’s already 37 C (99 F), and we’re not even to Ariha yet!” he shares with us, shocked.
We all sigh…Summer has arrived.
We arrive, have the meeting, and the driver decides to sit in on the workshop with the teachers. He loves it, they love it, and consequently, we love them. They push to have us stay for lunch. We insist we have to get going. They send the three of us off with sandwiches and coffee.
Road back to Ramallah
No one discusses the road or the settlements this time. The hour back is about history and resistance.
“I wanted to say something back there, but I didn’t want to cause any trouble,” said the driver after we had started discussing how the workshop went.
“Please, feel free, go ahead. What was it?” we asked him.
“Well, with all do respect, the idea of trying to infuse the stories of Palestinians, including refugees, into how we teach history…”
“There’s a reason that principal couldn’t wrap his mind around if its something that’s ‘allowed’. He doesn’t understand what it is to be a refugee. He’s still on his grandfather’s land. He’s still in Ariha. He isn’t like the three of us. Why would he teach the Nakba how we remember it? With all due respect to him, and he does seem like a good guy, if history is a story and its a collection of our stories and we want to expose our kids to those stories – well, he can’t tell my story because he doesn’t get it.”
“Well of course his story is different, but Ariha and the Jordan Valley have their own challenges, don’t they?”
“Of course, but…”
“Then the point is not necessarily for him to learn to tell our story, it’s for their story to be a part of the history they teach alongside the UN resolutions and battles won and lost in war, so the students see that it is a living history and that their lives are a part of it, not just their grandfathers. He doesn’t have to tell our story for us, but he can be a vehicle for the people telling our story, like with the videos we showed.”
The driver sighs…”That is true. So many stories…I don’t know anymore. Each of our woes are so connected, it’s a mess of disappointment, a web of complication, and now we have this Sulta (PA) to deal with.”
Everyone in the car collectively groans.
My co-worker starts up “In the First Intifada….”
…And we all go non-stop until we reach Ramallah.
Almost back to the office
“But something is happening now, there is something stirring, there is awareness. Your generation’s glimmer in the eye is returning. The bubble will pop soon,” we all agree.