Rain in Ramallah

Feb. 7, 2005 8:27 a.m.

Condoleezza Rice couldn't have picked a colder, wetter, nastier day to visit the Palestinian territories. It was the first stop by a U.S. Secretary of State in Ramallah in three years, so it was exciting and historic, but a bit miserable for the gang and I stuck outside.

My producer/translator Ibrahim and I never made it past the gates of the Muqata. The Palestinian guards, wearing green hooded jumpsuits and carrying Kalashnikov rifles, wouldn't let us in. We tried repeatedly to talk them into it, and several times people from inside came out to try and help, but no go. It was really frustrating, our engineers and rented satellite truck were already set up inside, just fifty yards from where we stood shivering in the freezing rain. It actually started sleeting at one point.
The PA locked down the place after the Secretary of State arrived, and our crew and about two-dozen other journalists were stuck. I finally took refuge inside our armored Land Cruiser up the block, and we did our live shots for "FOX & Friends" from the front porch of a house across the street.
The closest I got to Dr. Rice was when her convoy roared out of the compound and straight past us on the way to the airport.
Later, we had tea and chicken sandwiches at a place in town called the “Upside Down Coffee Shop.” Everyone at the other tables puffed on hookahs, smoking “hubbly bubbly,” a sweet apple-flavored tobacco. Above us, tables were suspended upside down from the ceiling, with prop glasses and ashtrays glued to the tops. Thus the name. There were old posters on the walls of random musicians and actors. The one of Brad Pitt looked like it was 20 years old, straight from the pages of Tiger Beat Magazine.
Next stop: the Red Sea resort Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, for the summit with Israeli PM Ariel Sharon, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and King Abdullah of Jordan. The weather should be a lot nicer.

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What an exciting time to be in that area. Will look forward to your accounts of how people are reacting. Stay safe.

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Although our church goes to the Holy Land every year, I am disabled and unable to go. I have seen lots of videos, but I really look forward to your reports in this important center. What if "peace" breaks out while you are there? How exciting. Keep up the good work.

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