A long day full of experiences!

So Shaban and I were going to meet an 9. Ended up being 9:30, he did apologise, however he also mentioned that this isn't at all unusual. We Germans are apparently extreme as we always like to be punctual. Whether I agree with this, I am not sure.

We were driving when I saw a huge crowd of 1st graders, however I noticed that they were all girls. Shaban explained that schools are segregated. The only education system which isn't segregrated is university. This however creates "a cocktail... so very bad.", this again showing the conservative mentaility which Palestinians have. Continuing along this line, today I also heard my first gay joke. He was explaining the tradition of men kissing eachother on the cheeks as a greeting, however I shouldn't be worried because they aren't gay and don't do "pinocchio things". I was surprised that a group of men, would start making homophobic jokes in front of a stranger like me.

Throughout the last few days in Hebron, I noticed cars with a German flag on the number plate and the rims. I asked why this is, and Shaban told me that it's because some cars get imported directly from Germany; and owners of these cars are incredibly proud of this fact.

The first set of drums, in which they clean the hides and remove the blood etc.

The first set of drums, in which they clean the hides and remove the blood etc.

The fresh cowhides, which are treated with sand and soil to guarantee no rotting.

Abu Youssef is the owner of a family run tanning shop. (I am now writing notes continuously, so I should start remembering more names.) I was astounded by the size of this place. Two building with four stories, filled with hides, leather and in total 8 huge washing machines. It takes a total of 14 days from the time that they get the hides delivered straight from the slaughterhouse to the finished leather in its customisable colour.

The building further down the hill, which is run by Abu Youssef's son is the station where the first processes are completed. This includes dehairing, cleaning, smoothing the hides. Here lots of heavy chemicals are used to ensure complete sterilisation and cleaning of the raw hides. To my surprise I found out that dehairing, removing the fat, and cleaning are all separate steps completed by different machines; which shows just how specialised each and every machine is.

Shaban asked me whether or not I really wanted to see the culture. Not really knowing what I was saying yes too, I agreed. A relatively normal wedding in Palestine has at least 1000 guests. Yes 1000. I found this out for myself by the traditional congratulations which men give to the groom and women give to the bride. To do this, there is a line of men, these men are the uncles and close male relatives of the groom. Then each and every guest walks down the line and congratulates them. I know these things, as I went to two of them tonight. Apparently Shaban goes to at least 2 a week however gets invited to 10s every Thursday. Here again I noticed the culturally conservative segregation. All the men sit in a hall after congratulating the line, one is given Arabic coffee. For me personally it was quite a nerve-wracking experience as my Arabic is still as good as non-existent and on top of that I didn't no anyone.

Shaban then dropped me off, at his nephew's cafe that catered to a younger crowd. The cafe appeared quite popular, with many customers playing playstation. It was a really unique concept which I enjoyed. I met 4 guys one of them was Shaban's nephew named Muhammad. He was 23 and I recon the other 3 were in their 20s as well. As far as I understood one the 3 was Muhammad's brother and the other 2 were childhood friends. We continued as a group of 5, to smoke a hookah and drink Arabic tea. These two things often go together and are both very traditional within the Arabic culture. They were all incredibly surprised when they found out that I have often smoked one, and that in Berlin a lot of people smoke them as well. Only one of the four guys could speak English, however they put in a huge amount of effort to make me feel as comfortable as possible, and i really did, it was a good laugh. I found it really pleasant to have a night out with people my age and not go to a bar to drink alcohol. We just walked around the city. Even though it was cold and we even stopped to have an ice cream. Overall it really was an interesting and busy day. 

Also I am very pleased to say, that I recon I'm coming closer to my goal, which was to be able to leave with a fixed concept for my next visit. I would like to focus on the industry. Even though the facilities and machines are top modern, the buildings have real character as well as the people working there.