Intern Journal: Climb Every Mountain, Ford Every Stream

The ability of fellow passengers to doze off during the hour service ride between Nablus and Ramallah still confounds me.  Granted, I’m no seasoned commuter, but with about a dozen rides to boast, I still find that I can barely tear my eyes away from the impressive rolling hills long enough to change the track on my iPod.   There is something truly spellbinding about the way those coveted hills glisten, illuminated by the late afternoon sun’s ebbing rays as they subside beyond the ridge.  Yes, when there are no shrieking babies involved, the ride is a serene one, lending itself to introspection and joyful reflection.

Whether the following adventure is to be attributed to these weekly drives or to the breathtaking, expansive view of the Nabulsi hills we daily enjoy from the TYO center is still unclear, but last week we interns were inspired to go “frolic through the hills.”  The weather on Saturday was splendid: a sunny spring day with clear blue skies, perfect for a spontaneous stroll through the wadi.  The valley’s bending stream was to be our sole guide.  It apparently leads all the way to the Wadi Badan village, which was our notional destination as we stepped out of the cab at the edge of the highway and began our descent down to the babbling brook...we never made it to Wadi Badan.

Less than ten minutes into our hike, as we neared the bottom of the ravine and paused to take in the pristine view, there was a rustle 100 meters ahead, and a wild boar bolted out of the brush, racing along our projected path (i.e. the water) to Wadi Badan.  More so to avoid having to constantly cross the stream than to avoid a second encounter with Pumba’s cousin (or so we told ourselves), we decided to continue toward Wadi Badan at higher ground.  About an hour and a number of clumsy hands-first falls into thistle bushes later, we realized that the ascent to reach the mountain’s summit was interminable, and we spent the latter half of the next two hours delicately retracing our steps back to the water. After our four hours of “frolicking”, we found ourselves back on the highway, about a one-minute drive down the road from where we had begun our excursion.

Did we have our Sound of Music moments?—We most definitely did.  Sure, they were interspersed with periods of screeches as we fled away from clusters of spiders and centipedes and with enough run-ins with hostile plants to keep me occupied with splinter removal for the next two days; but each time we stopped to catch our breath or to examine the latest scrape or bruise, there was the inevitable: “Just look at this view!”


Leila is an intern at TYO Nablus.