January 07, 2015

Snow! :)

Walking the dog, at 960 meters

I am a snow person. Snow makes me nostalgic. So while Beirut got pummeled by wind and drenched in rain and hail, I made my way up the mountain in order to wake up in a Winter Wonderland. Elevation in Lebanon varies between 3,000 meters (The Cedars up north, with the highest mountain, Qurnat as Sawda peaking at 3,088m) to 0 meters at coastal level, and snow was predicted at 1,000 meters.

Mission accomplished, I can say. I got snow! Solid snow at 960 meters, but it seems there’s snow, albeit slushy, as low as 600 meters, and more to come at even lower altitudes. 
My daughter’s school was cancelled, much to her disappointment (not). It’s not that kids in Beirut cannot make it to school, but it is the ones in the mountains that will have difficulties reaching their destinations, and so the Ministry of Education just gives everyone a break. My daughter, however, hates snow with the same vengeance as I love it.   So when I went out to walk the dogs (I actually walked only one, the other one sank so deep she had to be carried), she stayed on the couch in front of the fire place.

There’s something magical about being the trail breaker; the first one to walk in a piece of new snow. The snow is still on the branches, and everything is clean and beautiful and quiet. The only other sound’s the sweep of easy wind and downy flake.  
This is the kind of weather that I would have to wake up to some winters and bike through for 7 kilometers while it was snowing, in order to get to school. My brother is currently riding a bike somewhere in Siberia, at temperatures of -35C. 
Trail breaking; there's just been one before me. A dog I think.

There’s a downside to all of this of course, and even though it does not affect me directly, it is something to think about. We’ve got over a million Syrian refugees in country, and although quite a few managed to organize themselves temporary housing, there must be hundreds of thousands that did not have the means to do so. And they are sheltered in unfinished houses (that means no electricity and no permanent windows; they have to make do with plastic in front of the openings to keep the cold and rain out) or, for the really unlucky ones, in make-shift tents.  No electricity, and if they’re lucky they’ll have an old fashioned pot-bellied stove (although that’s not old fashioned here) but only if they’re able to pay for the diesel fuel to heat the thing up. As these camps are not official and unorganized, there’s no pavement in between tents, which means that they’ve got muddy slush up to their necks.

There are a lot of initiatives going around to gather clothes, blankets and food, but if you do not have a washing machine in your tent, nor a heater, then all your new blankets and clothes will eventually end up being wet, dirty and muddy, with little respite. They need a space where they have access to a washing machines and dryers. That would also require access to running water and electricity. It would provide hot showers too. Something to think about. 

Happy blogger (looking slightly dorky with my Abu Riad hat)


Elie Touma said...

Great photos of the snow and a wonderful picture of you. Thanks for your continuing contributions keeping us happy and showing us lazy lot what fantastic views to see in Lebanon.

Sietske said...

You're welcome :)