Saturday, December 21, 2002

We’ve had a serious storm in Israel for the last couple of days. If you’ve ever been to Israel in the winter you will know that a bit of rain causes everything to come to a standstill here, especially the traffic. It’s the shock at encountering this increasingly rare phenomenon, of course. They’re saying that this storm is a biggie. The winds have been unbelievable. We had to tie our plants to the balcony rail so they wouldn’t fly off and do any damage. The storm is top of the news. Can you imagine? This is a rare occurrence indeed. Five people were killed in Jordan, as a result of the storm, and twenty-five were injured, according to this Hebrew link.

We went to my dad’s for Erev Shabbat (Friday night) meal. He lives by the sea. The roar of the sea and the wind was so loud we could hardly hear each other speak. Later in the night, at home, a tree fell across the road from us. First we heard a big bang and a bright light. We thought it was lightening hitting the building across the road, but the lights were still on. Then there was another big bang with sparks of light. The tree had fallen on the electricity line. We rang the municipality and when we woke up this morning the tree was gone. Something must be working properly in this town, after all.

When we were at my dad’s the roar of the wind and the sea suddenly reminded my eldest daughter that once we were in a sand storm in Sinai. I’d completely forgotten about it. It seems to have left a strong impression on eldest, though. Before the Terror War, we used to drive down to the eastern coast of Sinai every August for a few days’ holiday. We used to scout the coast around Nuweiba until we found a nice beach with basic straw huts (just four straw walls and simple Bedouin rugs for a floor) that looked nice. We used to hire the hut nearest to the sea, preferably right on the water line. Meals were at the coffee shop that was always part of these little hut villages. We were careful to drink bottled water. People used to warn us about the food, but we were usually fine. Sometimes we stayed with Bedouins and sometimes with Egyptians. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but our idea of heaven. Cheap too. The girls had an opportunity to experience a life without modern amenities and swiftly became little nature girls, running around freely with wild hair and happy sparkles in their eyes.

One time, the girls were sleeping outside the hut. In August, it could get very hot sleeping inside, even with the nice sea breeze you get on the coast, and the natural air-conditioning of a straw hut. Sometimes the evenings could be very windy and even cold, though. Well, that night the wind gradually built up, until we found ourselves in a full-blown storm. This was unusual for August. You usually got sandstorms in the spring. I’d never been in a storm before, although I’d been going to the Sinai since childhood. We managed to get the girls, who were covered in sand, into the hut and reorganized the sleeping arrangements. The straw walls didn’t do much to keep the wind and the sand out. Bish ventured out into the storm and hung up Bedouin rugs on the outside of the walls, in an attempt to keep the wind out. We huddled together, wondering if the hut would last the night. Much to our amazement, it did. So did the sunshade Bish had erected outside the hut. But we didn’t get much sleep that night.

Back to the current storm, this morning Bish took the girls to the old Tel Aviv port to see the waves breaking on the bridge. While they were gone I made them a nice steamy vegetable soup for lunch.

The storm seems to have died down for now.