Queen for a day

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Did I mention I live in a castle?

One of IWPS’ core values is that it is Palestinian-led. That means that we don’t just go marching in somewhere deciding what is best but we have Palestinian coordinators who keep in touch with us and tell us where they would like us to go and what they would like us to do. Luckily the past few weeks have been quite calm and there are also a lot of internationals on the ground right now so we ended up with a team day off today! Potentially the first and the last, we decided to make the most of it, and what a great day it has been!

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I began the day with a spot of yoga in our courtyard under the jasmine tree

We got a service (shared taxi) to Nablus, a beautiful city nestled in a valley, which is fairly close by. As we live in a small village we don’t have access to many shops and so we had a list of things we needed to buy and walked around the city and souk this morning. I even found almond milk and soya yoghurt but decided I didn’t need to buy it this time at least. We also visited Touqan soap factory.

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The soap factory is 150 years old and it takes 1 week to prepare a big vat of soap like this

Olive picking is dirty work and despite my best efforts I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I will remain dirty until I leave, making the prospect of a visit to the hammam today even more exciting! I decided to go for the full shebang and I had a sauna, steam room, hot stones, body scrub, massage and facial – I feel WONDERFUL! On Sunday the hammam is women-only and it was such a fabulous atmosphere to be surrounded by such joyous women – the sauna was particularly fun with lots of singing, dancing and clapping! Sadly photos were strictly forbidden throughout but the building itself was beautiful.

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After that we went to our landlady’s house in Nablus. She and some of her daughters had prepared a huge feast for us followed by some delicious fruit.

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Feast
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The sun setting over Nablus

After that we bought a washing machine for the house (alhamdulilah!!!) and managed somehow to carry it in – I’ve added a few bruises to my already-impressive-tree-climbing collection. Along with the bruises the mosquitoes have been finding me particularly delicious so it’s a good job you have to stay covered up here but it gave the ladies at the hammam a good laugh.

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Yay!!

I’ve been well and truly spoiled today, but tomorrow it’s back to the olive harvest with a new family. I’ll make the most of my cleanliness while it lasts!

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