I wake up to find myself on my own, so I just get up and eat some of the food I brought with me as breakfast. I hear the sound of an engine and go to see what it is. Two men, one on foot and another one on a tractor, are spreading seeds on the fields around the village.

I make a point of keeping an eye on them, especially when they work on the land close to the Israeli road I had to cross to come here.
After a few minutes an Israeli military vehicle comes down the road and stops. Before any of the occupants can get off the military vehicle, the Palestinian men get away from the road. This year that patch of land will not grow anything.
I go round the village and a child comes up to me to invite me to his family’s home. Indeed the igloo-house is also similar to the internationals’ one inside, only this one is crowded. There is a small fire in the middle of the room heating the tea that we all drink. There must be about twenty people here, between the older woman who seems to be the mother and young people of different ages. The oldest one might be twenty. All of them, even the small boy who can not be more than two years old, have a very tanned and hardened skin. They tell me they live in the nearest village with brothers or uncles during the week to go to school and they come back on Fridays to be with their parents. The children leave well before dusk because they can only go back on foot.
I go back to H. and her parents and we go to the cave where they keep the sheep in the cold weather. We gather all the sheep manure and H. puts it in bags. Then we put the bags away for storage. When we finish, I begin to pack because today should be the last day I am here. After eating I receive a call from my replacement. I grab my backpack and say goodbye, before repeating the scene of the taxi leaving one person and picking up another, only this time it is me leaving.
I am not set to replace anyone from here. I am going to Jerusalem, ready to get on a plane. Not before going through the checkpoints, of course.
In the taxi that I get in Yatta there are three other passengers but we travel in silence. As we approach a flying checkpoint, the passenger sitting next to me looks nervous:
“Can I ask you a favour”, he says to me in a low voice. “If they ask us for identification. I have, but at home. Would you tell them that I am with you?”
“Sure. I’ll tell them you are my guide”.
Luckily, when we get to the checkpoint, the soldier in charge does not make us get out of the taxi. He bends over to look through the passenger window, sees my western face and says “go” with his hand. They have not checked our passports or identification. My “guide” looks relieved.
At the first stop of this taxi, well before Jerusalem, he gets out. I do not understand the words he speaks with the taxi driver but from the way he points at me while talking to him, and the quick glance of the driver, I guess he is going to pay for my fare. I begin to protest but the guy leaves quickly.
“He has paid your fare”, says the taxi driver to me. I look at him through the rear window and I see his lips saying:
“Thank you.”
The last vehicle I get on is one of those van-taxis that wait to be full before leaving. I look for an empty seat and a familiar voice calls my name. I look at the occupied seats and I spot G., one of the people who stayed with Abu A. after J. and I left Jayyous in O.’s car. I sit down next to him, happy to have someone I know to speak to, and we update each other with our stories.
G. has spent a few months in Jayyous and Abu A. is a friend for life for him now. When J. and I were there, Abu A. had already spent all the money he could get for his wife’s jewellery trying to get an injunction to stop the illegal expansion of the already illegal Israeli settlement on his land. The injunction was granted, that we knew. Since then, bulldozers have been on his land, protected by the Israeli army, uprooting his olive trees. Then more bulldozers have been on his land removing soil, preparing the foundations for new buildings. That we knew too.
“He won in court,” G. tells me, “but construction is under way. He could go again to court if he had the money, but it would change nothing. They are already building on his land.”
I close my eyes, to see more clearly, in my mind, the land I knew in Jayyous, with the olive trees recently uprooted, even with some small olive sprouts coming out of the soil where the trees had stood. And trying to imagine the bulldozers destroying that too.
“Facts on the ground, you know”.
Yes, I know.