Sunday, November 30, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
- 4:40 pm: Three Israeli aircrafts coming from the west fly over Tripoli, Zgharta, Bshari, and the cedars region up to Baalbak; aircrafts later flew out of the region over Lebanese waters.
[these are way in the north of the country--the border with Israel is in the south]
- 4:34pm: Security forces find an 81 mm shell inside a trash barrel in Tyre.
And, Tom will not want me to share this, but he was invited to participate in a swim race at our gym. It was the 10th anniversary of the place and there were all kinds of things going on. He was not wild about the idea, and up to the last minute wasn't sure he would do it. And it turned out to be the day after a strenuous hike, so the muscles weren't raring to go. But he went for it, and was beaten by half a length by a man 25 years younger who used to be on a swim team in high school. Go Gnarlo!
Monday, November 17, 2008
- 1:20pm A Lebanese air force Hawker Hunter jet fighter roamed the Lebanese skies as part of a drill ahead of Independence Day.
- 1:44pm Four Israeli warplanes flew over the Chouf Mountains, the Bekaa Valley and southern Lebanon.
Typical listings in the online news.
Beautiful country, home of the Druze. It was only 12 km (7 1/2 km) but felt (to me anyway) like lots more--plenty of uphill.
Above, me with MJ.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Arabic class continues. I’m in a one on one tutorial now with a Palestinian teacher. She’s very good, but I wonder if anything is sinking in or not. A well-meaning neighborhood shopkeeper who knows I am studying invited me into his shop and labeled the fruits and vegetables I had just purchased. He has offered to help me learn but as he has no real patience and fluent English, it’s not likely to help much. What I need is Talk Time like we used to hold for the refugees at Tacoma Community House. I try to string sentences together but every fourth word comes out in Thai…
Tom had a great hike on Sunday up to Bcharre in the north. 13 kilometers, but not much up and down so very relaxing.
Other news: the American Community School in Damascus was closed by the Syrian government following a US attack on “insurgents” inside Syria on the border with Iraq. ACS in Beirut is getting around 30 students from the closed school, so Tom and others have been busy preparing for them,
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
We went north last weekend on an olive harvesting and oil tasting trip, in the far north of the country. Fun, because we went way south last weekend, and usually we go somewhere in the middle. We went beyond Tripoli, a familiar journey for me, and turned inland for another 40 minutes or so. Just north of Tripoli we passed by Nahr el-Bared, the refugee camp K worked with UNRWA on. The photo isn’t very clear but perhaps you can see the flattened buildings. The whole camp is like that still. 30,000 people are still without homes.
K went to a conference at AUB (American University of Beirut) last week, attended by most of the authors of the book she is editing--16 people, all men, from 7 mostly Middle East countries. The topic of the book is the lack of democracy in Arab countries, but it is coming out of the Institute of Financial Economics at AUB. It looks especially at the effects of oil wealth and conflicts on democracy. Anyway, she found out the book will be translated into Arabic. Wow. Her contract has been extended to December.
T found out that the high school principal position has opened at the school for next year and is looking into it. We have made no plans for next year yet, though the school is on bended knee hoping he will stay. He is trusted and admired, and has brought the academic support team to a new level. He is also now chair of the School Improvement Team.
Back to the olives…a knowledgeable and infectiously enthusiastic young man introduces us to his family’s 100 hectares (~250 acres) of olives. His family has harvested olives in the area since 1800. Some of the olives are organic, for sale in the US, UK and France--but not in Lebanon. These use goat manure for fertilizer. There are different varieties, green and black, larger, smaller, and
A Filipino lady worker befriended me and showed us around. She has lived and worked here for six years. On a recent trip to the Philippines (she has gone back twice) she married. She is hoping her new husband will be able to join her here soon.
We toured two press operations, one traditional where they are ground between two huge stones (below)
And then we had to taste them, right? A sumptuous mezze meal followed. Ahhhh.
We had a tour of the very picturesque village of Baino, and even traipse into the backyard of a man who tends a single tree that bears 500 kilos (1100 pounds) of olives!. Photo at left shows K and T in front of the tree.
Random signs spotted in our travels:
Ghost car rental
Milk Time (a coffee shop)
Sea, Sand and Sun--Sexy
Babe Garden (a nursery)
Outpack Soul (on a t-shirt)