Sunday, January 07, 2007

Off to Tripoli

We took a bus to Tripoli, Tante Malakeh and I. Malakeh means queen by the way. I like that. She is definitely regal in the fact that she is a woman who has lived her life and has a deep caring soul. I like her.

It rained for a good bit of the trip and from what I hear; it was snowing in the mountains. The next day, the mountaintops were brushed with white.

The trip took about two hours. Tante said that it used to take less time but now with all the detours it takes longer. Yes, our friendly Israeli neighbors even decided to bomb bridges up here in the North of the country. I am sounding like a broken record, I know. Unfortunately this is reality, so tough.

One of the main reasons that I wanted to come to Tripoli was because I wanted to be able to take the drive past Antelias, Jounieh, and Jbeil (Byblos), places I remember living or visiting as a child. The road is so much more built up now. Everything is so close to each other. Beirut turned into Antelias without any clear boundary or definition, one merely shading into the other like my oil pastels.

Sooner than I expected, we were at Nahr El Kalb, the River of the Dog. I remember mother and me driving alongside this winding river road. It looks the same even though there are buildings on either side as the area is quite built up along the highway. I tried to find the building where we lived in Antelias but almost all the buildings could have been it. I also remember the tall grasses closer to the coast. They are still there. We also arrived in Jounieh before I thought we would, a place we often visited during the war like many others did when they could not visit Beirut.

Yes, distances seem much greater when you are a child which must have a lot to do with why I feel that everything is so close together. The fact that I live in the Western part of the U.S. where distances are great must also contribute to my sense that all of these places are stuck together like previously melted chocolate.

From the highway in Jounieh, you could see old stone houses surrounded by tall cement apartment buildings. I asked Tante where the large Jesus on the hillside was Jesus el Malak, Jesus le Roi. We passed it without my even noticing.

Throughout the journey, the Mediterranean was to our left. Because of the rain, the water was turbulent and rough. Wavy and unsteady, just like life is here now for some.

Railroad tracks disappear into the water and sand throughout the coast. There hasn’t been a railroad since the first war. Somewhere between the Casino du Liban and Jbeil, Dad taught me how to pee on these railroad tracks. If you are small enough and sit just right, you won’t splatter.

Bananas, oranges, and yet another destroyed bridge.

The United Arab Emirates have a poster on a small overpass that managed to survive the summer. They want Lebanon to know that they are helping support its reconstruction. How come everyone is willing to support Lebanon now but they were unable or unwilling to halt the attacks? The attacks could have been stopped immediately if the world had wanted them to.

Standing back and watching a country be destroyed and then contributing towards its reconstruction. There must be some financial interest in all of this that I am not seeing or understanding. In the case of the U.S., it’s even more insidious. Use tax dollars to supply military aid to Israel and then also put a pittance in for reconstruction. Money just flying around in spirals destroying and rebuilding, destroying and rebuilding.

At least the bus driver had great music playing in the background.

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