Now in Ramallah, largely to visit NGOs, and political / contemorary cultural sites

by ray goodlass

‎1 January: travelled from Bethlehem to Ramallah, de-facto capital of Palestine, by a ‘service’ shared taxi, an eight seater mini-van. The trip was fine, and though Ramallah is very close to Jerusalem, the landscape was totally different – really barren hillsides, steep slopes, and valleys that, if it had been flat could be likened to a moonscape. However, it looked to me as though a lot of this very barren landscape is used to quarry Jerusalem stone for building with.

Ramallah itself is also different in that it has many high rises – for apartments, government offices, and offices for Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), though it still has souk-like crowded, narrow shopping streets.
I’m here in large part to visit some NGOs to get a more political take on things and also to experience political sites, such as Yasser Arafat’s mausoleum, and cultural sites such as Al Kasaba theatre, which is largely liberation/theatre of the Oppressed and contempoary art galleries.

I’ll keep you updated as to how I go, but befoe I press ‘post’ I should note that yesterday’s comment on the changes towards a more amenable political state-building Hamas open to negotiation is not meant in any way to excuse the fact that it still sometimes resorts to violence, even executions of political enemies, not at all. I will always remain faithfull to my non-violence convictions
I’m staying in a hotel in Ramallah, pleasant, comfortable, and with all facilities, though if want to quibble, is that it charges for wi-fi, but its only approximately $10.00 a day (all day), so could be worse – and in Bethehem I spent at least that much on coffees each day in the restaurant with ‘free’ wi-fi, so it works out about the same. And this connexion is much quicker and more reliable – it doesn’t keep dropping out every few minutes, so not only will my posts be quicker to do, they will hopefully be more coherent.

Though I appreciate the comfort and privacy of the hotel I’m missing my (largely young)  volunteer colleagues and our very cramped living conditions: six matresses lined up side by side like the proverbial sardines in a tin, in five rooms (ie 30 of us all told), with one and a bit bathrooms betwee us.