Our last evening in Bethlehem we had dinner in Beit Jala, one of the towns of the Christian Triangle (Bethlehem Beit Sahour, Beit Jala). Akkawi Cafe is owned and operated by the celebrated Akkawi family bakers. Friends of mine for some 20 + years, they are generous to the Saint Mary's College groups. Saint Mary's students hosted ten Bethlehem University students. A feast of oriental salads, rib eye steak and chicken with mushrooms, and three desserts, we were well fed.
In the morning, we drove to Bir Zeit, near Ramallah, and visited the university there. A private university, it was established as a school for girls and now a co-ed university with over 8,000 students. Following our visit, we drove to Ein Arik, a nearby valley for msaken, roasted chicken baked and served on bread, onions, and spices. We then checked in to the Movenpick Hotel in Ramallah, just a month old. Many said it was the best hotel they have been in...anywhere. A luxurious hotel, the dinner and breakfast buffets were spectacular with choose your own fish, seafood, pasta and how you want it prepared to made to order omelets. I think they are now spoiled!
This morning we visited Yasir Arafat's tomb. Regardless one's political views, he remains an historical figure who held the Palestinian people together as a people. After stopping at the home of our driver, Hanna Khoury for refreshments, we returned to Notre-Dame Center in Jerusalem. Everyone is free tomorrow for visiting the Old City, shopping, praying, or resting. The weather is spectacular! This evening students are mulling over what they have experienced. Some are frustrated; some don't understand how the many conflicts in the region continue; some wonder what the USA is/is not doing to help resolve the conflicts; and some wonder how it is that the children of Abraham - Jews, Christians and Muslims - can treat each other so terribly.
We are all off to dinner!