Thursday, April 16, 2009

Upside Down

"Nablus, a trading center which is no longer allowed to trade because—problem for a trading center—nobody's allowed to go there. Here we are, passing through gray stone arches into the countless alleys of the old covered market. This could be Marrakech: row upon row of raw meat, and fresh fruit, and flies and umbrellas and clothes and perfumes and spices, and dogs wandering, and children, and bubbling pans of kanafeh, of which the locals are famously proud: layers of Nabulsi cheese boiled with sugar, dyed dayglo-orange and scattered with crushed pistachios. Too rich for my blood. Even the smell sticks my tongue to the roof of my mouth. Up to 80 percent of the citizens of this town are unemployed. So there are few customers, and the prices are half what they are in Jerusalem. In the corner, a biblical hammam, up a short alley, nothing but steam and stones."

And then of course, there's the pirates.

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