Camp Bolivar, near Kuneitra on the windswept Golan Heights, has been the bleak Christmas home for 150 Canadian and 384 Peruvian United Nations troops.
Camp Bolivar, near Kuneitra on the windswept Golan Heights, has been the bleak Christmas home for 150 Canadian and 384 Peruvian United Nations troops. The soldiers man the 15 observation posts along the ceasefire line, which separates the Israeli and Syrian forces.
The Peruvians call their art of the camp "Topless" ... the Canadians, "Roofless" -- indicating just how solid and weather-proof the buildings are. Most of the troops live in large, drab brown tents ... the only permanent buildings are communal ones, like the canteens.
The camp area bears the scars of the Middle East wars ... it/s littered with shell-battered buildings.
Roadways alternate between sun-baked granite and rain-soaked quagmires. At the moment, the latter is the case ... the roads have been churned up badly during the heavy christmas traffic, transferring supplies, trees and beer.
Adopted Israeli dogs ... with the letters "UN daubed in blue paint on their sides .. roam the Camps."
Yet overlooking the whole dismal scone is the brilliant snow-capped Mount Hermon, which rises 9430 feet (2814 metres) above the borders of Israel, Lebanon and Syria. The Israelis are preparing the mountain's ski slopes -- the scene of fierce fighting during the 1973 October war -- as a tourist resort.
a ski lift at the 7560 foot (200 metre) mark which was damaged during the war has been repaired. And a second smaller one has been constructed.
However, the snow is too soft and too shallow at the moment for skiing and therefore, tourists are scarce. Tourist Authority officials are hoping for a snow storm to break the unsoasonal conditions.
But even in this tourist setting, there are sings of the surrounding tension. Armed Israeli soldiers patrol the area, which overlooks the Syrian lines.
SYNOPSIS: Adopted Israeli dogs roam the camp, which has few permanent buildings. One of those few is the Peruvian canteen, which the soldiers have decorated in an attempt to provide one hospitable haven ... away form their bleak surroundings.
Yet ... looming over the campsite with its drabness, its rain and its cold, is the impressive snow-capped Mount Hermon. The mountain rises more than nine-thousand feet above the borders of Israel, Syria and Lebanon.
The Israelis are developing the slopes of Mount Hermon into a tourist resort, and a ski lift, damaged during fighting in the nineteen-seventy-three October war, has recently been repaired.
Nearby a second smaller lift has been built ... but to date there have been few tourists to enjoy the facilities.
Those who have visited the area have not been able to ski because the snow is too shallow and too soft. And despite the picturesque scenery ... the signs and scars of conflict remain.