Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fire and Passion!

Ramallah is a place full of contrasts. There are modern points and there is what appears to be the beginnings of commerce and trade blossoming.

And at other times there is the poverty and the sadness.

I had decided to come back into the West Bank to experience exactly this contrast. Keeping me company were the two Daves that I had met in the hostel. One from Singapore, one from the UK. The three of us drew plenty of interest from the people there! We were CLEARLY not from around the place!

We drank tea, we ate chicken and just walked around. It was lovely to just stand and talk to the locals, all of whom happily chatted away with us.

As the day continued, what we came for started.
The rally commemorating the 40th anniversary of the political party Fatah.
Yasser Arafat's party!
People were out in numbers, and the two Daves and I wanted to see! We wanted to get in the middle of it all and experience it all. We had seen the other side, and now it was time for us to get a different perspective of thoughts and feelings.

It was a VERY different experience!
As we followed the crowds heading towards the main event, we realised that this rally wasn't being held anywhere, oh no! This event was being held in Yasser Arafat's compound! The place were he was holed up until his death a few years ago.

Upon getting inside, we realised that we weren't too happy with our view. So after a bit of quick talking (and the passing off of British youth cards as press passes) we were able con our way onto the press gallery!!!

To the left was Reuters, to the right was the Associated Press.... over to the side was the Beeb.
Within the crowds, people were cheering and dancing. Children were there with their parents, the old people were all smiles.

It was a bizarre scene. To the front, the VIPs were on stage all speaking passionately into the mics. Former prisoners were pampered and fetted in front of the stage. Childrens' groups marched in to applause as did womens' groups.

Everywhere, there were guns and more guns..... no shooting in the air.... but definitely an experience none the less to see it all.

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