June 10, 2002
Oasis in Beit Sahour
this area went from being merely warm to being the hottest place
The last three days here have been scorching. Forget Death Valley,
forget the Sahara Desert -- Bethlehem has to be hotter! Everyone
points out the temperature in Celsius here, so it's hard for me
(schooled in higher mathematics) to tell it in degrees Fahrenheit
-- but I'd have to guess that it's about two hundred degrees or
so. Too hot to sleep. Too hot to eat.
over the weekend I found a temporary solution to this heat problem.
It's called the Golden Park, and it's an amazing oasis in Beit
Sahour. I was surprised to find a place like that hidden there.
It has a nice cool pool, video games, good food, music, and a
friendly staff. And at only $6 a visit, I think my financial supporters
will be happy to know that I am not wasting their money on frivolous
I was the only customer at the Golden Park. For whatever reason,
no one else was there. There
were a couple of the owner's 5-year-old children happily playing.
I tried to join in their fun, but one of them started screaming
and crying that an odd stranger was nearby, so I reluctantly made
a retreat. (Go play your stupid games by yourselves. I'd rather
swim laps alone.)
used to swim 40-50 laps regularly. Several times a week. So I
thought I could swim ten easily for a warm up. I made one length
of the pool and coming back I thought I would die. My endurance
is totally shot. (I think you must have to actually exercise to
keep in shape.) Slowly drifting to the bottom of the pool, I was
thinking the headlines of the Beit Sahour newspaper -- "Out-of-shape
American Methodist Church Worker Drowns
in Shallow End." I figured it would be a bullet, but instead
it was that harmless-looking pool.
climbed out and worked on my tan instead. I was so dizzy from
exhaustion I could hardly walk. (Sort of the same dizziness as
smoking one of those Palestinian argila water pipes. Man, those
things really make my head spin.) Remember, a nice tan is a necessity,
and I needed to lay down a good base. I opened a magazine to read,
but before I could find an article I liked, I was red like a lobster.
The sun here is merciless. For the uninitiated visitor, I recommend
a good sun-block. The SPF number (SPF-32, SPF-64, etc.) indicates
the number of seconds you can stay in the sun before completely
burning. I put in a full thirty seconds, but I believe it was
a bit much for my first shirtless morning. When I recover, I'll
have to play it more conservative -- perhaps slowly starting with
2 or 3 seconds of indirect sunlight and working my way up from
in Beit Sahour.
hotel beside the pool is currently under construction. I was amazed
that it wasn't used as an Israeli sniper position in the recent
40-day invasion. (I was told that the Radio Net Cafe/Ararat building
between Bethlehem and Beit Sahour was more centrally located,
so it was selected instead.) The Golden Park looks like it survived