As some of you may have read in the news (at least, my parents have…), this has been one of the wildest winters in recent Middle Eastern history. Jerusalem and Amman both have feet of snow, Egypt got its first snow in what’s rumored to be over 100 years, and even Nazareth saw a few flurries. Above are a few pictures taken out my window over the last few weeks. They’re all fairly similar…and all pretty surreal. I can literally see the weather roll down the hill over the city of Nazareth. It’s beautiful.
First, a story from today. Today, I walked the first part of the Jesus Trail with an American guy. I don’t remember the last time I didn’t want to do something that badly. It was sleeting and freezing pretty much the whole time, and the last few days of raining and snowing and sleeting and freezing had transformed the entire trail into thick, squishy, impassable mud that sticks to your shoes and makes your feet heavy. But once I got past my discomfort, it was an ok day. It was bearable in that ohmygoshican’tbelievehowmiserableiamthisisactuallykindoffun way. After several hours, we finally arrived in Cana. Walking through the narrow streets, drenched and coated in reddish mud, we got a lot of stares. The few brave souls that were actually out in the weather either muttered something in Arabic about crazy foreigners or utilized their limited English skills to shake their fingers at us, informing us that we were, “Very. Wet.” We came to the guesthouse where the hiker would be spending the night. Dripping from every part of our bodies, we knocked on the door; Sammy, the owner, opened the door, stared at me, and just laughed. After dancing through his living room in an attempt to avoid getting mud all over the carpets and furniture, drinking a giant mug of hot tea, and slowly trying to uncurl my stiff fingers from around the cup, I got ready to leave and take the bus back to Nazareth. Before I could leave, though, Sammy insisted on reclothing me for the journey home. He brought out a giant pair of pleated dockers, tennis socks, and his wife’s pink crocs. Thus arrayed, I set off on my journey home, shuffling through the rain in a pair of 50-year-old-man dress pants 10 sizes too big for me, a pair of baby pink shoes 4 sizes too small for me, and my muddy raincoat. I think I got even more stares leaving the village than I did entering it. I knew, though, that there was no way he’d let me turn him down.
Middle Eastern hospitality, once again!
And secondly, an interesting fact: in order to fight off the health risks of the cold weather, a common Russian remedy is apparently red wine served hot with black pepper and honey. At least, according to Vladi, the Russian maintenance guy.
It tastes a little weird for me. And I also suspect it’s just an excuse to drink wine. But…I’m not going to complain.
Anyway, dear reader, wherever you are – whether snowy Pennsylvania, frigid Vermont, crazily unpredictable Middle East, or elsewhere – I hope you’re warmer than I am. Cause now I’m closing my computer and heading back to my post, huddled under my blanket, as close to the heater as I can get without creating a fire hazard.