After a month of living in Bethlehem, leaving was hard to do, and not just because I was going to miss the baklava.
Travel Israel Jerusalem West Bank Bethlehem - A tray of baklava with the Dome of the Rock mosque in the background

Baklava and the Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

Driving out of Bethlehem last Monday was hard. Saying goodbye to my family brought tears to my eyes and I miss them terribly already. I even miss the call to prayer, strange considering it woke me up just about every morning at 4am.

I’ll miss sitting together to eat delicious food (especially the sweets), I’ll miss the singing, the dancing, the laughing, the love and the warmth. I felt a part of the family and to leave that behind was as hard as leaving my real family in Australia.

I have learnt about life in Palestine, the ups and the downs, I’ve learnt more about myself, I’ve learnt a small amount of a new language, I’ve reconsidered and rethought many things and I fell in love with a place I will keep visiting for the rest of my life.

There is something about the Holy Land that is intoxicating. It gets under your skin and the more you see and learn the more you want to stay.

Bethlehem in particular. No matter where else I visited in Palestine or Israel, coming home to Bethlehem felt right. The people are friendly, they know each other, it’s not too big, but doesn’t seem too small.

It’s certainly not without its issues however; the people are not free to do as they want, but I didn’t meet one person who wasn’t proud to be Palestinian and even those who could live elsewhere if they choose, wanted to stay in Palestine. It is their home and they love it.

Before I left Australia some had concerns about my safety when I told them what I was doing. Some (highly offensively) even joked that I was going to learn to be a terrorist.

No one wanted to kill or blow anyone up. It’s a shame that a minority of extremists give such a bad name to others.

There was no violence around me; it happened, but I was far from it.

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