Friday, June 5, 2009

Adeste, fideles, Laeti triumphantes, Venite, venite in Bethlehem

While I would prefer that this blog avoid the more contentious political issues around the area, I think that it is important for people to get a general idea of the topography of the West Bank in order to better understand the specific topic of music within it. Yesterday I went from Ramallah to Bethlehem, and I think that the road connecting the two cities encapsulates a lot of characteristics of the West Bank.

Much of the West Bank, like Ramallah here, is covered in hills.

You might not be able to pick it out, but in the background is Jerusalem. Ramallah (and Bethlehem) are both in very close proximity to Jerusalem.

Qalandia, one of the main checkpoints outside Ramallah, with passage into Israel proper.

Like other traditionally nomadic peoples, the Bedouins have had difficulty assimilating into modern urban life; many like these live on the roadsides in what are basically metal boxes.

An Israeli checkpoint on the road.

Ma'ale Adumim, an Israeli settlement. The growth of the settlements are currently a hot topic in the news.

A common question that I've got is "what is the scariest part of being in the West Bank," because the impression is that it is much more dangerous than it actually is. If I had to answer, I would say this part of the road, the aptly named "Wadi Nar" or "Valley of Fire." Imagine an extremely steep road, with many curves, with a good deal of traffic from older cars that are bound to break down at any time. This is the Wadi Nar.

The view from the top, however, is very rewarding.

Bethlehem. I didn't get any pictures of the Church of the Nativity this time but I'm bound to go back so I'll get pictures there later.

Bethlehem University, a traditionally Christian school in the West Bank. There is some wonderful Christian artwork here as in all across Bethlehem.

(the last image was HDR processed). Hopefully not too many of these image-blast pictures in the future unless there is more interest in it. If anyone wants pictures of particular things let me know.

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