Our required daily ritual became an endearing routine which brought us all closer and gave us a feel for local life in a way that you couldn't receive in the comfort of a hotel room. A handful of us there in that house. Jayyous, Qalqilya, Palestine. Each morning, we would walk uphill to the skatepark at 07:30. The views from there were breathtaking: on a clear day we could view the sea over Israel. A sea many of the children here would never be able to touch. Group stretching was the first step of warming up for the day's skate camp. Skateboards were lined neatly on the bank while the Palestini kids did calisthenics and various other activities. When the morning's warm-up came to an end, they were allowed to go to their skateboards and begin their morning of fun.
It was at high noon when the skateboarding came to an end, the children put their boards away & cleaned up, and the meditation session began. It was Kenny's idea to have the young campers stop and lie down quietly for five full minutes at the end of each morning. To teach something about quiet, calm, and the power of meditation. Although many of the kids made faces at each other in silence or missed the point entirely, many received the intended effect and seemed to really benefit from the practice.
Meditation complete and campers taken away in buses to their houses, we walked slowly home through the growing heat. It was our time to take in the mid-day village and stop at the store for anything we might have needed, mainly a post-lunch ice cream, water, or more hummus & cigarettes. Nassim, Zaid, Nestor, Omar, Abdullah. We were all happy to have wrapped another day of camp, feeling rewarded and looking forward to the evening session or adventure, wherever that might take us.
At six o'clock each evening, it was our time to leave the house again. There might have been a meeting (always related to the skateboarding programs we were there for) in a neighboring town. If not, we might have skated the local park, all to ourselves this time. Or maybe we'd have headed into Qalqilya City or Tulkurm, or Nablus for some tasty dinner and tourism. Or maybe, we'd drive the car to Asira to skate its beautiful skatepark. On the drive home, we may have stopped at the "Spies," the gas station that sold beer which was run by Israeli "spies" who exuded abrasive energy. This earned its unfortunately beloved nickname. Later at night, we would enjoy those beers (or water or tea) over cigarettes on the rooftop of our temporary home, looking out onto the electric lights of Israel and Palestine.
Two weeks of this. And when it was all over, there was an active sadness. The sadness was so obvious and the hesitation so strong that I promised myself I would be back the next year. See you soon, Jayyous.