Nobody won this war," our driver to Rafah tells Ashraf. I am sitting in the back seat listening to their conversation.
"Israel didn't win. Hamas didn't win. The biggest losers in this war are the Palestinian people".
I have been contemplating all morning how I'm going to sum up everything I have experienced over the past week, and here's this taxi driver saying it better than I ever could. And I guess it makes sense that I use his words. It seems like what Ashraf and I have come to do here is just listen and recount.
As we were waiting for the taxi to arrive a young man sat down and began talking to us. He introduced himself as Hytham. The 17-year old began to talk about the war, so I asked him how he felt about the whole situation. Recalling our interview with the resistance fighters, I asked if he has ever considered joining. A week ago I might have been more reticent about asking such questions within minutes of meeting someone. But having seen the willingness of most people to talk about their lives I feel no shame in asking.
"Of course I've considered it. This is our land and I would like to be able to defend it. But I also want to finish school, and study at university in the US or UK. I want to be a doctor", he says. He tells me that one of his brothers has just lost an arm and a leg. I ask if he was a fighter. He cheeks flush pink in anger and he says that his brother is 11, and that they were at home eating dinner when the airstrike hit. No, he wasn't a fighter.
Later, in the taxi, I wonder if this telling is cathartic for the Palestinians. If it helps them vent their frustration, anger, and grief at the lives they lead. Or if it opens them up to yet one more violation from outside, from journalists who jet into a hotspot for a week or two, but then have the freedom to get out again, leaving a country ravaged by war to pick up the pieces. The drive down to the border is much quicker than the first time we passed along this road, eight days ago.
Dirt and rubble has been cleared to the side, and everywhere there are signs that life goes on after war. A man stands on a ladder, against a telephone pole, tinkering with the wiring. Scrap plastic from bombed water pipes is hauled away on the back of a donkey cart. The call to prayer echoes and an old man washes up outside a mosque. Bullet holes have riddled the buildings nearby.
When we reach the Rafah border it is quiet and few people are there. We cross out of Gaza easily enough, handing over our passports for exit stamps and then boarding a bus that will take us to the Egypt side. Ashraf is sitting behind me, looking for his camera, and a woman in a black abaya and hijab is sitting beside me, across the aisle.
As we pull up to the Egypt border point, a guard gets on the bus and asks to see everyone's passport. She is reluctant to hand hers over and starts to cry. They drive the bus into Egypt, and everyone gets off to go to immigration.
As we are waiting to be stamped into Egypt, it becomes clear that they are not going to let the woman in. She has a Palestinian passport, not an Egyptian one. She is holding her small son, with her back against one of the walls. She is sobbing, pleading with them to let her into the country.
"I will kiss your feet", she says over and over again. "I just want to see my children". Another man tells me that they have all paid their way past the Palestinian border guards.
The Egyptian guards are yelling at her as she sobs on the ground, holding her child. "You will not get into Egypt today," he tells her maliciously.
It is one of the most heartbreaking scenes I have ever seen in my entire life. This woman so desperate to leave, and not able to go anywhere.
As I watch her, helpless, she symbolises for me the whole of the Palestinian people. Our eight days in Gaza distilled into a single moment.
She is still there, on the ground, as Ashraf and I have our passports stamped and freely walk out into Egypt.