Last night, not long after I'd finished blogging we pulled over on the side of the road. The convoy were by now hours ahead of us because we're slow and heavy. As night falls people tend to dash for the next overnight stop and convoy rules go out the window. Well that works both ways then.
I phoned my Dad only to discover he has been taken into hospital with chronic nose bleeds. He's not been at all well and its played on my mind all along that I might be called home. I'm assured he'll be okay. I was just taking stock of that when a man jumped out of a 4x4 on the opposite carriage way and ran across to shake our hands. He wanted us to follow him and have some food. In the Koran it teaches that it is a greater good to care for a traveller than someone in your own life. It is also very ungrateful to refuse generosity. The chance to break bread with a local seemed like divine intervention and so we followed. Bear in mind this man, Jockicke Kamal, doesn't speak French, (mind you, mine is primary school level at best and John's is a mixture of every language under the sun including Martian) we followed him to an hotel. He bought up a meal and insisted we stay the night at his expense. Tough choice, drive til about 2am to find the convoy who had abandoned us in the Atlas Mountains and pitch our tents or sleep in the biggest bed I have ever seen. After lengthy discussions (2 sec max) about the ethics of suffering in solidarity we decided anyone in Gaza would think us crazy not to accept this hospitality. Honestly though some people think we should make the journey as wretched as possible to put up on a par with the Palestinians. This is play acting at being homeless and deeply patronising.
When they've finished "playing refugees" they'll all bugger off home to their comfortable homes in the UK. There is no virtue in poverty that's why it must be irradicated. So, we gratefully accepted this hospitality and spent a wonderful time with Kamal and a passionate French speaking waiter not understanding a bloody word each other was saying. I couldn't even understand John who by this time had kicked into a full on version of northern Irish Esperanto. We all though understood our reasons for helping the people of Gaza. We understood the killing of children. This haphazard meeting proved that we share an international conviction that the suffering of the Palestinians must end. It was a beautiful encounter and well worth getting on the wrong side of the convoy organisers for. By the way if you've been reading the Viva Palestina website it continues to propagandise. Apparently we spent a lovely day in Tipizi being shown around some ancient ruins. In fact we were inprisoned to all intents and the only ruin we saw was the cockroach infested hotel the majority of the convoy stayed in. We've been told that a Tunisian newspaper who offered to house the convoy have had their generosity declined in favour of us sleeping in our vehicles. Apparently its not enough to drive 14 to 18 hours. If I'd known I'd have brought some birch along so that I could flay my flesh and leave it as proof of my conviction along the roadside.
Some of the convoy seem to have invented a new game called "Lets all play Hamas". They've even started wearing black army style clothing. But really the majority are lovely friendly hilarious characters who grow closer each day. They are ordinary people who understand what it must be like to lose a child. Simple as that. We are up against a highly organised and well equipped adversary, and I don't mean the wannbe martyrs, I mean the USA and the Zionist goverment of Israet. By the way many of the vehicles including the fire engine were donated by a British Jew. The world is not divided in the ways we think. X