Friday, December 22, 2006

I have arrived

I have arrived and have so much to write and tell. I have already been to Baalbek and Beirut and have been trying to work on my Arabic. It’s so wonderful to be here. I am excited about almost everything but especially food. I get ecstatic about food.

It seems that I will be a little behind in my posts. I have been keeping a journal and was hoping to post revised portions here along with pictures.

The flights were fine, uneventful until Frankfurt. Frankfurt airport is a pit. I have been in many airports and I have to say that it is the worst airport that I have ever been in. I realized how much of a Pacific Northwest of the United States woman I am when I was shocked by smoking stands where people just stood around in the middle of the airport and smoked without any glass enclosure or anything. In fact, people were smoking EVERYWHERE and there was no fresh air. I was getting claustrophobic until the gate to Beirut opened and I was able to sit in an area with no smoke and natural light.

It was in the waiting room that I got my first taste of Lebanon as it was full of very cosmopolitan Lebanese as comfortable speaking in French, English and German as they were in Arabic. When the plane landed and before we got off I was again struck by the murmuring of at least four different languages. This is Lebanon. The land of polyglots.

I cried when I first saw the Lebanese coast from the plane. I was really returning after all these years.

Evelyne and her brother were outside behind a crowd of waiting families. Those who can are returning for the holidays. Evelyne was worried that she would not recognize me but I knew I would recognized her. Her brother saw a foreign-looking woman approach and asked if it was me. Evelyne said that she that I wasn't that haughty looking. In other words, she remembered what I want people to remember about me.

We walked outside into perfect warm weather and bright light and the drive to Ain Saade began. We went through a Shiite part of town near the airport. You could see posters of Nasrallah hanging from the lampposts and bombed buildings in the distance. This area was heavily attacked by Israel. There was traffic as we waited to cross the World War II bridge put up after the Israelis destroyed the other this summer. We went through both Christian and Sunni areas including Ain Roumaneh an area of heavy fighting during the first civil war, the civil war that I knew. Cement apartment buildings now interspersed with old. Older ones with patched up bullet holes. A reminder of the first war.

Lots of traffic and a car just stopped in the road for no apparent reason. And a drive up the mountain to Ain Saade past the memorial for Gibran Tueni, a journalist killed last year after Hariri was killed. I will write more about him in later posts.

The view from Evelyne's apartment of Beirut is beautiful. You can see this in the photo above. So built up. I remember so much more room to walk and hike in the woods. On the next hill to my right, I recognize a set of buildings with a cross on top. Evelyne says that it is a monastery. I think Roumieh, the town that I grew up in is on the other side.

Beit Mery, another town that I remember is right up the hill and Antileas, where I also lived, I believe is at the foot of the rainbow. Lebanon, my pot of gold, I finally am visiting you, my childhood home, after 26 years.

1 comment:

Myrthe said...

You lived in Antelias? My boyfriend is from there and I spent six weeks there last year when we were visiting his parents.

Apart from this, I am glad your trip went okay (well, you arrived, didn't you? ;-) ). Looking forward to more Lebanon-impressions!