First of all, Bethlehem: get your act together. One inn? I know it’s a little town of Bethlehem, but, honestly, not even a Super 8 out by the Interdesert? Instead, just one lousy inn for the entire area. And in those days, there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed, so maybe spend some of that tax money on hospitality infrastructure?
Anyway, as decreed, my husband, Malchior, and I went to the City of David (as Bethlehem is listed in Google Charts, BTW, very confusing) because that’s his lineage. They never let you forget where you’re from around here. “Don’t go marrying one of those Bethlehem boys,” my mother said, which is why Malchior hates going to Mom’s for Passover.
We knew it was going to be crazy, so Malchior booked well in advance via Messenger (Josiah the Messenger, to be specific). But then, like, three weeks later, we get an e-scroll from the inn telling us their rates have gone up and it was now double. Of course, we protested, but they wrote back, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than to find a non-incense double occupancy at census time, so take it or leave it.” Rude!
Obviously our first impressions were not great and they did not improve upon arrival. The place was crawling with guests and completely understaffed, with people yelling and cursing plagues of locusts on each other. One guy was flipping out about his wife being pregnant and crazy stuff about Holy Ghosts until finally, just to shut him up, I think, they offered him some kind of “Rustic Agritourism Satellite Chalet” and escorted him and his wife discreetly out the back door.
I was worried they’d maybe given our room away but smartly Malchior slipped the concierge some myrrh and we were good to go.
OMG, the room! The swaddling clothes were dirty, the hay in the bedding clearly hadn’t been changed, and sand, like, everywhere! We called down to the front desk. “Hey!” Malchior shouted over the railing. “There’s sand in our room!” “That’s okay!” the front desk shouted back up. “Compliments of the inn!”
We considered just paying our taxes and heading home but Malchior reminded me that traffic that time of day would be camel to camel.
We decided to make the most of it, went out for dinner (see my review of Sol’s Matzah Balls; in a nutshell, they only serve matzah balls…) and then went to bed.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was going on. In the barn behind the inn, there’s this woman screaming! I tried to wake up Malchior to call security, but he’d had too much frankincense – as usual!
Oh great, and now there was a baby crying. Jesus! Because that’s what we later learned his name was: Jesus.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the cattle started lowing. You think you’d be able to tune out lowing, but once you’re conscious of lowing, you can’t not notice it.
I was just starting to drift off again when, now what? Bleating! First the lowing and now the bleating. Not to mention the braying. And more shouting. I look out again and the barn is teeming with shepherds. I’m not prejudiced, but shepherds should stick to abiding, not stumbling into town to overcrowded inns and reeking of wool.
And while all this is going on, there’s this super-annoying, blinding light. Like the sun! It lit up the whole barn behind the inn, where I could see this couple, they’ve now got their baby lying in a feed trough! I mean, I nearly called Child Services! Not to mention some little drummer boy out way past his bedtime. Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum, pa-rum-pum-pum-pum. Somebody crucify me!
In total I got about an hour’s sleep. And then there was no hot water for our shower. We called down to the front desk. “Hey!” Malchior shouted over the railing. “There’s no hot water for the shower!” The front desk shouted back up, “What’s a shower?”
I give Bethlehem Best Eastern Inn one star – for that frickin’ light that was as bright as one frickin’ star!
I would like to say we won’t be back, but unfortunately we’re booked here again in 10 days for Malchior’s annual Wise Men’s Convention. Surely things will have quieted down by then!
Bonus Track 1: What the Flock? Or What the Shepherds Saw
Bonus Track 2: We Three Kings Go Shopping