February 15, 2004
Acts of Nature in Bethlehem
[Bethlehem, West Bank] I'll guess
that something happened in Bethlehem recently that has never happened
here before -- we had an earthquake and a snowstorm in the same
On Wednesday I was riding in a taxi
down Manger Street on my way to the checkpoint. People were pouring
out of buildings and congregating in the center of the road. I
asked my driver what was going on. He blamed it on a Fatah demonstration.
He wondered why all those crazy people held their rally in the
middle of the street. When we got to the checkpoint, another driver
told us it wasn't a Fatah gathering, but rather something less
monumental -- an earthquake. In the car we didn't feel a thing.
A few buildings suffered some damage.
A wall and door frame at Wi'am cracked. I didn't hear of anything
more serious. Visiting college students (from a group led by my
good neighbor Ed) were inside the Herodium mountain when the quake
started. A few stones dropped from the cave ceiling, and Ed noted
that the exit suddenly became a popular spot.
Three days later, Bethlehem had its
annual snow day. It was coming down pretty good. Since Bethlehem
is built on hills, the snow almost totally stopped traffic. I
walked around and took photos. Got into a few halfhearted snowball
fights. The local boys didn't put up much of a defense. The trick
is to use large snowballs and aim for the head. But when one kid
started bawling, the rest sort of lost interest.
While I was taking photos, I slipped
and nearly took my head off. I scored it a 7 out of 10. Legs straight
up in the air and landed on my back. I lost points for smacking
my wrist and elbow on the sidewalk. My laptop bag was strapped
to my shoulder, and I can't decide if it helped or hurt my fall.
I felt like an upside-down turtle spinning in his shell, as I
tried to stand. Soaking wet, but fortunately only a (walking)
mile or two from home.