"Welcome, welcome".... "Where are you from?" These are two very common phrases you hear as you move around Palestine; young and old people are genuinely thrilled that people are coming to visit.
Along our walk we have stayed as guests of local Muslim families, whose warmth and friendliness has been overwhelming. In the Christian Village of Taybeh (where they make an extremely good beer and its the only brewery in Palestine) we stayed with the sisters in the the convent, a charming oasis of calmness. We have also camped with a local Bedouin family which might have been the most basic of stays, but no doubt something people will remember for a long time. Our hostess was a striking looking lady and her two young daughters, who had their mother's looks, were totally charming as we were dragged off to look at the baby kid goats, kitchen etc. We where encouraged to try our hands at milking the goats when the flock had arrived home - harder than it looks! The youngest member of our group, Cushla, was invited to sleep on the sleeping platform outside under the stars, which was made of old doors and accessed by climbing up a ladder with the family. Tucked into bed by mamma and with one of the little girls holding her hand she fell asleep with a gentle breeze, whilst the rest us were down on the ground under the awning outside their house.
Each day's walking was been varied, walking across farmland and climbing up hills terraced with with olive trees. On another day we walked down a gorge spotting fossils on the ground and picnicking in the shade under the overhanging wall of rock. We've meandered down Wadi el Qilt having visited the monks in the monastery, floated in the Red Sea and slapped on mud like the locals do and listened to Russian women singing outside another monastery as we collapsed in a heap under the shade of an olive grove at the end of our last walk. We have watched the sun go down over Jerusalem with a cold beer from the roof of the Austrian hospice in the old city, as we gazed across the rooftops and admired the golden glint of the Dome of the Rock in the fading sun.
All in all it's been a wonderful journey and we still have today to explore the old city of Jerusalem.