Reflections from Abu Dis

Walking walls is not simple. It means checkpoints, trepidation, foreignness, obstacles. It means running into subsidiary fences that sprout out of the barrier like offspring, like a child who has learned to carry a gun, built by a different hand but for the same purpose. It means walking twenty yards before going back down the hill to find a way around this particular snake on the militarized Medusa head. Sometimes it means walking on a ridge that is in sight of the wall but on the opposite side of the valley because there is no way across. Walking walls means using a 300mm lens to photograph watchtowers. Walking walls means Arab buses to East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Walking walls means stepping in dog shit.

Walking walls means being invited for tea and coffee by strangers who turn out to be really nice. It means eating felafel that is consistently cheap, but wildly varied in taste. Walking walls means playing it cool at the checkpoint, and switching out memory cards beforehand. Walking walls means navigation by compass. It means meeting sheep and goats daily. It means wishing I spoke more languages hourly.

Walking walls means being in sight of where you want to go and having no way to get there. Experiencing frustration and angst, but ironically this is exactly what you hope to experience by going here. To understand, a little, tiny sliver, for one day, what its like to live with the wall. Walking walls means the wall will walk on you.

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