Maya and Hani pick us up at the hotel. They’ve brought two cars with drivers. Before leaving there is a heated discussion about whether or not the border would be open tomorrow. It turns out that there is a doubt, because the Emir of Qatar is visiting. (And later it turns out that it did not open. Four of our group therefore get stuck here and have to delay their departure by 24 hours. This unannounced closure is endemic of the volatile nature of this border – the only ‘port’ to the outside world – an a small taste of what is business as usual for those few privileged who can sometimes leave.)
We drive through the streets to the old town. We’ve met a lot of people since we arrived, but they were either university officials, faculty, students, or municipal officials. But we have not actually yet walked down a normal street, believe it or not! Now finally we get to walk them. We visit a very nice little museum in a palace from the Mamluk period.
We walk through the ‘gold market’ an arcade of one gold shop after another. Then we get to the main street which has the biggest hustle and bustle. I watch people sew things with very old fashioned mechanical sewing machines right on the street. All kinds of huge plates with different types of nuts and sweets are offered.
(Photos above: Philippe Prévost)
We enter the biggest Mosque in Gaza. Shoes come off, scarves go on (at least for us sisters). The court yard of the mosque is the nicest. It’s such a calm and peaceful place. A couple of children play around and let us photograph them. When I return a couple of days later, there are even more, and they perform acrobatics for us so I can photograph them. They all can say “Hello”. And when I say things in English to them, they repeat them.