Monday, July 21, 2008

Back in Beirut

Flying in after a 24 hour trip, to a full moon over the Mediterranean. I recall how to say “15 thousand,” the figure I will barter for a taxi ride to Hamra. The plane passes over Cyprus on the descent. I can see the eastern coastline and it’s like a map unfolding. I spot the areas lined with hotels = lights. We were there! In fact, we avoided those areas.

As we land in Beirut, the passengers clap. It is 27° C (81° F) at 10:30 pm.

As my taxi arrives, the familiar attendants at the hotel across the street recognize and greet meet me. Tomorrow I will give them almond rocas “from America”. From “my city”.

Within minutes of arriving in the apartment (found the key!), having shed my shoes, I note that the bottoms of my feet are black. I pass my hand over a counter top. In fact, all surfaces of the apartment are black! Soot from the diesel-run generators that fire up 2 or 3 times a day for hours, when the electric power is cut. What do our lungs look like?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Return to America

Four sets of keys in my purse—Cousin Linda’s in Ballard, Grimstads’ in Tacoma, ours in Washington and Beirut. Um, I think this is Tuesday—where are we sleeping tonight?

It’s a dream, being in America, going from dear old friend to dear old friend, sandwiched in between various familiar, missed relatives. Seeing old haunts as strange yet comfortable. Petting the soft grass of lawns because it is, well, GREEN. Salmon and more salmon—YUM! Corn on the cob. King crab. Mt Rainier!! Soft and flushable TP. Blue eyes. Foxglove. Miracles of roads, including stop signs, crosswalks, demarcated lanes and compulsory seat belt use. (I saw more signage form airplan landing to I-5 than all year in Lebanon). Talking, talking, talking, hearing and sharing news. I hadn’t realized how many of our friends are teachers—so nice as most are off for the summer and we can visit in the day time.

On to LA—la-la land. Went chanting with friend Leslie. Spotted these assorted bits of wonderment and signage:

  • Bakeries for dogs

  • Create a New Credit File Legally

  • Free HIV testing here

  • Billboard announcing McDonald’s new Angus Chipotle BBQ Bacon Burger

  • Eternal Valley Memorial Park and Motorway (highway to Heaven, presumably)

  • TVs in grocery stores showing commercials and quick fix meal ideas, and disembodied voices at street corners counting down second available in which to cross the street.

  • Pink’s hotdogs, where last time Cam got something that was essentially four hotdogs in a tortilla

And, in the cutting right to the chase department:

  • Buzz Coffee

  • Fatburgers

    Loved ones!