Snow in the Holy City

Now that I’ve been back in Jerusalem I have wanted to update my blog for a while… I never finished updating about my holidays because it began feeling a little like a chore. This blog is first and foremost for me, a log of things that I have done and enjoyed or not enjoyed, a record of things I have experienced and witnessed. It’s supposed to be exactly like traveling is – sporadic.

In any case, I left the wild winter in Montreal (though I am happy I stayed long enough to see the crazy, record-breaking snow storms in the Laurentians and in the city itself) and arrived in Tel Aviv shortly after midnight on January 1st. Nervous, but hiding it, I was surprised to have glided easily through immigration and I was out – back in Israel, back to somewhere I had been dreaming of for a long time.

My first week in Jerusalem was uninspiring. There were some lovely evenings: dancing through Mamilla Pedestrian Mall and in my apartment, drinking with friends in the graveyard, dancing some more. There was a not-so-lovely occasion in which I found myself standing between Jews and Arabs fighting in the street to protect my male friends before it came to blows. And then standing between cops and friends because naturally, when an Israeli Jew instigates a fight it is the Arab who is arrested.

And then…. and then there was snow. In January 2012 I had waited with bated breath for the predicted snow and I got a little bit of what I determinedly called ‘hard snow’ but others called hail. In 2013, not only did I witness real hail (the hail stones were huge) but there was also some ‘hard snow’ and, finally, some real soft, drifting, sticky snow!

Jerusalem blanketed in snow

Jerusalem blanketed in snow

Jerusalem blanketed in snow is as magical as I dreamed it would be. Of course, it helps that I love snow in general and thoroughly enjoy the heavy drifts in Montreal. But that aside, it was truly exquisite and I feel so lucky to have been here.

It began snowing during the night on the 9th of January. There aren’t really any windows to look out of from my bedroom (living in a convent in the Old City means anyone can look in and see everything, so all curtains are tightly drawn) so I didn’t see the snow fall. But a friend was visiting, and when he stepped out to go home he exclaimed “wow!” The boyfriend and I ran to the door and saw that the convent was blanketed in white. I wanted to immediately go for a walk, I could not believe that it would last, but I was told it would and reluctantly went back to bed.

Girls "sledding" on the roofs of the Old City

Girls “sledding” on the roofs of the Old City

On Thursday morning I woke up hardly able to contain myself. Not only had the snow stuck, but there was more snow outside and it was still falling! I tried to pull the boyfriend out of bed but it was not until our friend arrived unannounced that he rose and we were able to go out. It was magnificent. Jaffa Gate was covered in snow, every roof in the city was blanketed, people were throwing snowballs on the roofs of the Old City and even doing a little bit of sledding. Elated and hungry, we headed out through Damascus Gate where some youth, clearly trying to make trouble (evident in their attitude and behaviour), pelted me with three consecutive snowballs followed by one saying “fuck you” when I exclaimed that my camera was wet, and searched in vain for some hummus. While doing so it began snowing even more heavily – I’m talking blizzard-like conditions – and soaking wet and breathless we arrived at another convent where we threw some snowballs and built a snowman in the yard.

A real snow day in Jerusalem. I couldn’t believe it.

Our snowman

Our snowman

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