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A Joyous Palestinian Tale = Coffee Spill!?

August 8, 2011

Israel and Palestine, Photos

What does a coffee spill (or two or three) have in common with a Palestinian carpenter, his family, and shop? On today’s travel tale, I will tell you how I umm, “celebrated” my very first trip to Palestine through three coffee spills and what those meant to the shopkeepers of a cute little shop in Bethlehem’s main square.

Bethlehem Palestine

Shop was around this street!

I will never forget how I was welcomed to Palestine. On my first trip in December 2008 during Eid el Adha, my friends and I arrived at Bethlehem’s main square and decided to check one of the few shops that were open during the holiday. It happened to be a beautiful little gift shop owned by a humble Palestinian carpenter and his whole family helped to tend it. We opened the door and were only received by utter joy: “Assalaam a3leikum (peace be upon you)! Welcome!” I will never forget the carpenter’s bright, honest smile and his wife swiftly receiving us with cups of coffe for everyone. Seriously, she just appeared as if by magic by the front door with Arab coffee ready for us!!

And then, what I thought was tragedy happened. I was nursing my coffee cup as I looked at the beautiful hand-made wooden creations, looking for the perfect souvenir to bring back to Puerto Rico to mom and grandma, devout Catholics so excited that I was going to be visiting the Holy Land. Then…SPILL! I spilled my coffee all over the place. I don’t even know how it happened; it was so quick! I was so worried, omg, so embarrassed! I quickly used my napkin and started to frantically clean up. To my surprise, all I could hear was laughter and celebration. As I looked back, I saw the Palestinian family raising their arms, flailing them in the air in pure joy. Needless to say, blushed me was utterly confused. So, knowing (no) better, I repeated to the wife “I am so, so sorry!”

Honestly? I thought they were laughing and thought it was funny at first. However, as I kept apologizing to the wife, when she finally could control her laughter and celebratory arm-flailing, she put her hands over my shoulders and exclaimed: “You see habibti, here we believe that when coffe is spilled on our shop, it brings us prosperity and good luck!” BINGO! Bahaha, of course, I’m bawwwwler like that!! I was the subject of prosperity, good luck and in good ol’ Western flair, BLESSINGS to the shop! =D awesomeeeee! So, I actually ended up celebrating with them! Then they just went on to bring out more coffee to celebrate such blessings of mine, and the family even brought out their family albums, introducing our whole group to the family we (as default haha!) had just blessed. Needless to say, one of the most awesome travel experiences I remember. I will never forget those big, bright, beautiful smiles and how I brought upon so much joy to that household during such a holy week to them.

Bethlehem Palestine

Streets of Bethlehem, Palestine by Mathias Kristensen

But hey, that’s not all! I told you we were given more coffee, right? So I betcha you can guess what happened shortly afterward? That’s right, as lil’ María here kept shopping, she spilled her coffee again! Oh dear I swear I swear, it was not on purpose! Of course, laughter and even more intensifying celebration followed. And I don’t have to tell ya how I was given more coffee, and as the wife was pouring it, my hand did a weird shake and spilled a bit for a third and last time! At this point, I kid you not, the wife had tears of joy in her eyes. I’m telling ya people, I have never seen a human being so happy in my entire life. In all honesty, just retelling this story beings such joy to my heart, it is indescribable *wipes small tear off her cheek* =’)  it is amazing how such beliefs and “superstitions” around the world can have such an impact on people’s lives, you know? It still fascinates me!]

So, after that last coffee spill, we had earned a full tour of the carpenter’s shop, including behind-the-scenes so we could see, live, one of his helpers carving a souvenir plus a rooftop visit, were we witnessed one of the most beautiful views of all Palestine =) also, we got about 20-30% discount off everything we bought in the shop that day! Needless to say, we would have bought that much anyway because of the great quality of both the merchandise and those people’s hearts =) and then, we understood, there are good Israelis and good Palestinians. Great people with golden hearts can be found everywhere. We simply need to look deeper and past what the media tells us to see the reality. And so we must understand, never judge people by its government’s actions.

Bethlehem, Palestine photo

Me in Palestine w/ coffee-spill-stained sleeve in peace sign

Bethlehem Palestine

View of Bethlehem from the Carpenter shop's rooftop!

Have you ever been to Palestine? Tell us about your experience in a comment below! =)

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One Response to “A Joyous Palestinian Tale = Coffee Spill!?”

  1. Adam Says:

    I had some coffee in Palestine, too! Didn’t spill though :P

    Ramallah has a LOT of coffee places! And everyone was so friendly, too.


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