Friday, July 9, 2010

Even More Questions about Bethlehem!

Our friends from Wisconsin wrote a few more questions. I am now sitting in a hotel in Amman, Jordan and reading them. I have a few more posts with pictures of Bethlehem which I want to put up, but I will answer these questions first.

I am sorry that I am not with my friends in Bethlehem who would be the experts on the answers.

What types of beds do people sleep on?

The beds in the house that I stayed in was very similar to our beds. I think that maybe it did not have a box spring underneath and the mattress was harder. One difference was that instead of blankets and sheets like we are used to there was one blanket wrapped in a sheet (that was made sort of like a pillowcase. It was too hot to use this, so I mostly slept without covers.

If there is a shortage of water, what do people do for showers? For cleaning and washing dishes?

If people do not have water they cannot shower OR wash dishes. People definitely shower less often and in the house where I was staying (and I am guessing in most houses) they had a bucket in the tub so that you could save all of the water instead of it going down the drain. That water could be used to flush the toilet or to water plants outside. 

Most of the time people have some water, but there is not much pressure, so it trickles out. Now and then when there is NO water they have to buy water in big gallon jugs or maybe they have a family member in another part of town that has water and they can go fill up jugs there. At least then they can wash dishes and do sponge baths.  

Do people have air conditioning in their houses?

Most people do not have air conditioning. I did visit a house that had some air conditioning. I doubt that anyone has air conditioning in the whole house. If they have it they only have it in the living room. Some people have fans.

What types of jobs do people do in Bethlehem?

Lots of the jobs that I saw were people who had little shops that sold things or fixed things. For example, the brother of the woman I visited had a small shop fixing watches and he also sold new watches. There are jobs doing construction although not much construction is approved in Bethlehem and so there are not many paying jobs doing this. Some make things and sell them to tourists. There are hotels who employ desk clerks and people to clean rooms. There are taxi drivers, bus drivers, and tour leaders. There are restaurants with cooks. There is a university, so there are professors and schools with teachers. 

I have heard that unemployment is really high. I think that many of the jobs in Bethlehem depended upon tourists visiting and now that less people are coming there it is not easy. Most tour agencies stay in Jerusalem hotels and only come to Bethlehem for a short time. 

I did not see many beggars or any homeless people. 

Do families have pets? If so, what kinds of pets?

There were not many pets that I saw. However, one of the people I know has two bunnies in an outdoor cage. Some people have chickens. I think that those are more for eggs than they are pets. I did see cats and dogs, but they seemed to be outdoor animals that people fed outside.

Do people there have TVs? If so, what shows do they watch?

Everyone has a TV. The couple I stayed with were older, so I am not sure if the shows that they watched would be the same for everyone, but the TV was on most of the time. They turned it on first thing in the morning and even though they weren't watching Catholic masses were going on in the background of everything they did. They also liked to watch the news and what looked to me like soap operas or maybe ongoing adventure shows. These shows were made in Turkey mostly. They said that Egyptian shows had been more popular in the past, but now Turkish TV was better. Lots of people were watching the World Cup whenever a game was on. 
One thing that I thought was interesting was the observation that when you watched old Egyptian shows or movies from the 50s women were not wearing head coverings and the society seemed more open (men and women were relating more openly), but now it is different. Women in shows wear head coverings.

What American sports do people there know of? How do they know about the sports? Do people there watch the Olympics?

I wish I could give you a better answer for this. The couple I was staying with were not very interested in sports. Since the Olympics were not happening I am not sure if they were followed with as much interest as the World Cup of Soccer. 

What kinds of stores do people go to and what do they buy there? We are especially interested in what the kids buy.
This picture from

shows what the downtown shopping place looks like.

 Stores are smaller than what we are used to. Most food is bought from the outdoor market. This might be like the Farmer's Market if you have one. However it is bigger. There are all kinds of things that you can buy there including household goods like sponges and pots and pans. There is also goat meat hanging in shop windows and lots of eggs and chickens. 

In the outdoor market there are lots of boys with shopping carts (some like we have and others home made). They will take people's groceries from the market to their homes or maybe to a taxi. Most people walk from their home to the market and if they buy a lot it is hard to get it all home. They pay a small amount to these boys and get their groceries home that way. In this picture from you can see the boys with carts in the back.
What I saw kids buying was candy and soda. There are lots of small markets, like our mini-markets around and kids had pocket money and went to buy snacks. Junk food is becoming a problem there. Kids really like it and it is easier for parents to give them a little money than it is for them to fix a healthy snack. Does that sound familiar? 

Do any Americans ever come to visit or stay in Jerusalem? Only 2 of us have ever met anyone from Israel, so we are wondering if people there meet any Americans besides you?

I am not in Jerusalem yet, but I think that there are LOTS of Americans in Jerusalem. Many are tourists, but there are also Americans who have come to live in Jerusalem. 

This map shows how close Bethlehem and Jerusalem are. Jerusalem is in the yellow part (Israel) and Bethlehem is in the green part (Palestinian Territories) 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Janice, we had a great discussion today about the similarities and differences in life in Bethlehem and life in Whitefish Bay. Students discovered they have much in common with the students and families you have met. We looked at your map and Google maps to pinpoint where Bethlehem is located and talked about how the geographic location and climate affects life there. I think students were most interested in the boys who help carry groceries for people who are doing their shopping at the market and the water shortage affecting daily life and farming. We have one more week of summer school so will continue to check in here. Thanks again for letting us travel along with you again this summer!



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