I have been picking olives for two days now. The ironic thing is that I am pretty sure I am allergic to the trees. I should also mention that the temperature is unseasonably hot. Instead of mid to upper 70’s, we are dealing with 90+ degree heat (today 99 degrees!). It has been tough. On the first day it was also a tough walk / climb over rocky terraces - Quite the lesson in humility.I almost did not go the second day due to spiking a temperature. However, as I was there feeling bad that I was not up to par, I overheard the farmer telling someone how grateful he was just that we were there – he was clearly close to tears. So, it really is not about how many olives we pick, but that we are there with the farmers.
I am living with a family in Beit Sahour and as I watch their daily lives unfold I do see differences, but I also see more similarities. The mother eats Corn Flakes for breakfast because she is concerned about her health, the entire family dotes on the newest members (four month old twin girls) and they juggle all the demands of their lives. But, at the end of the day they know that they are still an occupied people. That goes beyond any quantifiable affect (waiting in lines at checkpoints, lack of access to jobs and services), but pervades the mind. It creates a sharp edge to everything here.
In the States we are so far removed from this kind of reality, I am not sure how to express it in a way that can be easily understood.Like my host dad has said, they live in a situation that is “complicated”. All I know for sure is that anyone that has refrigerator magnets, can not be so different from me.