Intern Journal: In Search of Desert
As a person from the West arriving in the Middle East, there were a few preconceptions, some a priori “truths” that whether through ignorance or lack of exposure managed to hitch a ride in my suitcases as I anticipated what I was about to see. Thankfully, honest reading, research, conversation, and general open-mindedness undercut the possibility of me marching around here with sunglasses tinted by predictive cultural, social, or political biases (such a fashion/affliction seems to plague many of us "Amurrricans"). Instead, I was determined to let my experiences here inform whatever judgments I might later arrive at, and that mindset has been liberating and wonderfully beneficial. However, somehow in this process, I forgot to address my misguided and mythologized sense of Palestine’s geography, topography, and climate. In short, though acknowledging the Mediterranean’s obvious proximity, I still came here expecting to see a land primarily of desert, a landscape that somehow reconciled visions of Aladdin, Lawrence of Arabia and nightly newscasts with Brian Williams, with a bit of those Biblical rolling hills thrown in just for variety. Stupid, I know, but some childhood imagery refuses to go down without a fight.
Living in wintry Nablus and traveling around the West Bank the past three weeks, much to my foolish surprise I came across beautiful, hilly countryside, chilly winds, and the city’s occasional flirtations with rain and hail. Though unexpected and pleasant, I must also admit, I was a bit disappointed not to see more of that romanticized Arabian panorama.
And then, Chelsey took us four interns on a hike to Wadi al Qelt this past Saturday. Stepping off our bus and crossing the highway, within five minutes we came to the majestic canyons, dunes, hills, and the crumbling valleys groaning with old age that I had hoped to see out here. We explored for hours, hiking virgin trails at times, free to roam along what was effectively an untouched, unpopulated preserve. It was a beautiful day, a great day, and I hope my photos below can do the place some justice.
Until next time
Colin is an intern at TYO Nablus.