We arrived in Beit Sahour, a town just outside of Bethlehem - the Shepherd's Fields - where we stayed with host families contacted through the Alternative Tourism Group. Our Palestinian hosts were a Christian family - Hanen and Sami, with their daughter Jane. We arrived in time for tea - made with sage - and later a beautifully prepared meal of chicken, rice with almonds and yoghurt, as well as home-prepared pickles.
We talked until late. Jane, whose English was very good, spoke about her life in Beit Sahour. She has four sisters who are now all married, two living in Jordan. She showed us the photographs of the weddings - for the most recent she was the bridesmaid - and the pictures of her neices and nephews.
Jane works at the Applied Research Institute, Jerusalem (ARIJ) which is an environmental research institute and particularly looks at the environmental cost of the occupation. We visited ARIJ the following day - and they have such a wealth of information - their maps are particularly useful for understanding the occupation.
A message that came across very clearly from Jane, and from other young Palestinians we had the privilege to meet, was the message 'we are tired'. 'Talk about our feelings' we were told. 'Make people see us as humans'.
I wish I had the words.
When I asked about angel-sightings in the neighbourhood, unfortunately our hosts had not seen any, but they told us a local legend of cursed gold hidden in the caves which Jane and her sisters used to play in as children. This gold, we were told, accounted for the few rich, crazy people in the locality.