Postcard from Palestine #2: The scent of cardamom coffee

llahu akbar, Allahu akbar…
A Ashadu an la ilaha illa Allah…

The sound of morning adhan, a call for prayer from the local mosque, blended so graciously with the first rays of the sun that illuminated the room through the dark curtain cracks and a window cage. It was only 5 am and my Palestinian family was already awake, preparing to leave the house. The scent of cigarette and cardamom coffee from the kitchen gently overwhelmed the room.

”Yalla Lidija, we go?”’, my Palestinian father asked as he was putting on the watch and fixing his shirt. I liked the old school masculine way in which Arab men took care of their appearance, reminded me of simpler times.

Palestinian roads: Hebron, West bank

Since my family lived in a village outside of Hebron, my father would take the rest of the family and me to the city where they had a shop. This is where I would kill some time before heading to the volunteer center. We left the house and while driving in a van with windows down, the sunny fresh air hit me – it was that one delightful moment in a year you realize the spring has come. The village was still quiet and the only sound was of the Qur’an prayer from the radio.

Assalatu khayrun mina nnaum…
The prayer is better than sleep…

Mosque in Hebron

Hebron, 9:30 am: I was sitting on marble stairs in front of the school while the early spring sun was rising. Garbage man walked by and pointed his finger at my cigarette, waving in a ”it-s-not-good-for-you” manner.

Football field in Hebron, children climbing over the fence

I looked at the other side and I saw a human head sticking out behind the near football field wall. Wee old man in a nice suit grabbed himself trying to jump over wall two meters high. Somehow he managed, jumped over tossing over his belly.

Yes, that was the school principal.

He was 70-something years old. Just a few meters further, there was a normal path for pedestrians which he could have used to go around the field. But for him, this was the easier way across. He jumped on the ground (well, more like fell on the ground), but he stood straight in a second, shook off the dust from his coat and lightened up: ”Good morning Lidija! You are early!”

The truth is, I wasn’t early. He was half an hour late. Just one more reminder that time doesn’t mean anything here. God made plenty, anyway…

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