January 29, 2017

Yeah, We Do Get Snow

This morning at 900 meters

While in Holland over the Christmas break, and it was -1 C°,  I was talking to a lady in a shop, and when she learned that I had been living in Lebanon for over 25 years, she said: “I bet you miss the cold and snow.”

Well, I can’t complain really. It is -4° as I speak, and I just came back from an early morning hike through the snow in the mountains above Beirut. It was a lovely sunny hike, and I did slip on ice (while scrambling back for the car because the last person to arrive gets the unpopular back seat), so no, we get ice and cold weather and snow here in Lebanon. 
You do have to go a little up into the mountains, but I am currently at 900 meters, and it snowed here all last night.  So yeah, we do get snow.

It is a common misconception among people not familiar with the Middle East that this place is an everlasting hot desert with camels. And I guess with Trump’s policies, these misconceptions are not exactly going to change any time soon.

But no, it can freeze in pretty much all over the Middle East. And although snow in Saudi Arabia still makes headlines, snow storms in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Israel and Iran do occur in winter time. Granted, our snow does not last long (2 months if you are lucky), and where I am, it will be pretty much done by next week if it doesn’t snow again. But it isn’t that different in Holland these days. The last white Christmas we had was in 2010.

jackal trail in the forest

So now we have snow in the mountains as low as 900 meters today (The highest mountain here is some 3,000 meters). I should be skiing, but I’ve got a teenager in the house with a science research due, so that was the end of that. But a 7:45 AM hike through the snow is a good replacement.

There were some traces of jackals in the snow, but other than that, wildlife has been pretty much obliterated here, with more hunters than citizens in place. I read somewhere that a bear and cub were spotted in the mountainous border region near Syria. And I guess that is the last we will ever spot of that bear. If it moves, they shoot it. Even the sea gulls roaming the garbage belts near the airport are being hunted down, because of the danger they cause landing airplanes. That devising a long term plan about proper garbage disposal might actually be a more logic plan is not a consideration here.

Anyway, at 7:45 AM in the forest in the snow, and everything is white and beautiful and peaceful, was a pretty impressive experience. For some reason, snow never seizes to mesmerize me.

I think that now, more than ever, it is important that misconceptions about the Middle East are debunked. When I was active in journalism, you did not always get to show the human side of a place. There was always the focus on the government, and political decisions and how the relations between the various nations complicated matters. The power of hobby-blogging however is that you get to look (or lurk) into the lives of common people.
So what about common people? Although Lebanon is not (yet) on Trump’s list of unwanted, we’re pretty close, and my kids might become unwanted people pretty soon.  I mean, how different are we really from Iran and Syria? You may argue about state terrorism, but the fact that yesterday I had no electricity all day, that I have to buy water, that my Internet does not work and that my monthly G3 bill equals the yearly bill of my son in Holland, is state terrorism as well. 

 Anyway, yeah, we do get snow.

No comments: