Tuesday, April 22, 2008
The concert was the Lebanon National Symphony Orchestra playing a Bach double piano concerto (2 baby grands--how had they survived the various conflicts??) and two other peices. Very nice. One featured a clarinet soloist from Hungary and a Romanian bassoonist. Both were into it, swaying with the music and sharing a smile from time to time. There is a free concert here almost every Friday night! Rich donors.
Spring seemd to burst out in about one day. Suddenly the jasmine, roses, bougainvillea, hibiscus and more were in full bloom. In the countrside it was apple, almond, apricot, walnt and cherry trees. Mind you we don't see plants on every block like you might in other cities. Somehow, in the otherwise sterile, grey, walled, and prison-like UNRWA compound there are a dozen or more rose bushes, and even a flowering tree.
Monday, April 14, 2008
It was a lovely stroll along the river banks, perfect short-sleeve weather, with lots of wildflowers. The group was ready for picnic time; one young lady had carried a nargileh (water pipe) in her backpack, another a thermos of Turkish coffee. And lots of potato chips and chocolate.
Coming back down into Beirut, you could see the air hanging over the city, yellowish and thick. Ick!
A billboard: Lusty Laundry
A restaurant: Flobby Diner
KFC (yes, KFC) Sign: “Drive thru kids area”
A store up in the mountains: Mini market Jesus
Things you’d never see in America department: children on adult’s lap in front seat of a school minibus; also, the stairwell at the four storey UNRWA office building, smelling faintly of smoke, from something one of the cleaning staff had cooked on a hot plate in a closet, in the stairwell.
Saturday we went to Baalbek for the second time, and to Anjaar, ancient Ummayad city. Baalbek knocked us out again; it's Temple of Jupiter is the largest Roman temple in the world. And it's Bacchus Temple the best preserved. Just jaw-dropping, the whole place.
Anjaar—forgot the camera, sorry!—only one reconstructed wall standing, but a large, walled Umayyad City from 700 AD.
Sunday, hiking in one of the cedar preserves in the mountains. Incredible scenery—the most beautiful in the country, and some of the most breath-taking we’ve seen anywhere. But not a lot of cedars. Emperor Hadrian’s emissary in the area carved words into the rocks in several places, laying down the law about not cutting down certain species of trees. Even back then (1200 years ago!!) they could see that the forest needed protecting.
After the hike, we stopped at a 1,000 year old church (below).
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
I emerged poofed and blow dried, the new me. So far, rave reviews, but I’m waiting to see what happens when I wash and fail to blow dry it on my own...
The salon was a trip. Bless T’s heart for coming with me and persevering through three Self magazines while he waited. Now that is true love. The stylists wore tight headscarves that hide and mash down their hair, but seem to be masters at their art. Of course I was dying to know how their hair looked. The place was on the second floor of a building through a dingy entrance, but had come well-recommended. They presented me with a braid of my cut locks at the end.
Here it is, post wash-----
*well, at least according to the stylist
One more birthday gift! The two sweet 80-something year old ladies at Meeting conspired to make me a cake, with a candle. They even sang. So nice!
I think half the car tires in this land need air—lots of squealing around corners, even at low speeds.
Found myself in a meeting at work with 16 people, and realized only two of us had English mother tongues (the other was a Brit), yet the meeting was in English. We are so privileged (and, at least I, so ignorant).
Now the blog “dashboard’ is coming up in Italian—I love it! Lots easier to figure out than the German or the Greek before that… So even the internet doesn't know where Beirut is.