Monday, March 15, 2010

Tonic panic, and spotted on the Corniche

Horrors! It seems there is a tonic water shortage in Beirut. Those many expats whose evenings are incomplete without a G&T have hit hard times indeed. Underconver intelligence text messages report which small shop may have a few dusty cans on a forgotten shelf...

Seen on the Corniche: young lady wearing stiletto-heeled boots sporting multiple non-working buckles, wide-striped red and black tights, plaid miniskirt with black lacy slip showing 2” below, tight red sweater, false eyelashes, and a black headscarf covering hair and neck. One idea of Moslem modesty.

As we sit in a restaurant on the Corniche (um, the Corniche is the walkway and roadway along the Mediterranean) on Saturday night, we watch pass a long convoy of white UN vehicles. Military vehicles. UN military vehicles—almost makes me gasp, seems such an oxymoron to my idealist, former staff member heart. A long convoy, apparently having rolled straight off a ship in the nearby port. Armored baby tanks, assorted trucks, huge electrical apparatuses (generators? command centers?), and 2 enormous guns mounted on massive truck bases—anti-aircraft guns??? The UN! And why down the Corniche for all to see this Saturday evening, instead of the highway leading to the south? Because people are happy to see them, feel reassured (I guess) to see them, as well they might, I suppose, given the constant taunting, threatening by the neighbors to the south, near daily overflights of their jets, in violation of a number of UN resolutions. I am just so sad to see that this is what my UN, the one and only UN has [had to] become. I really am disturbed by this.

p.s. this is not a new presence in the south, merely added reinforcements. UNIFIL has just celebrated (?) its 32 years of peacekeeping

Thursday, March 4, 2010

On Beirut--for Kristina and Becca

Favorite sign of the week:
Pizza On Fire Wood
(no doubt a literal translation of wood-fired pizza)

I like the daily adventure of life in Beirut, most days, despise it others. What piece of technology may fail today, what confusing multi-phone call administrative snafu may arise, what stranger will show some touching kindness, what new obstacle in the street must I be aware of lest I trip or impale myself, what political drama may unfold? But, in Tacoma, who may be shot?

Living here has renewed my world citizenship, which is very important to me, has sheltered me from a constant barrage of annoying advertising, box stores, the election campaigns last year, and the incomprehensible spin of conservatives entrenched in a fear-driven narrow-minded and selfish mindset. It has made me more aware of how various segments of the world live—migrant workers, Palestinians refugees for 60 years, rich Gulf people (many of whom come here to party), itinerant expatriate teachers...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Winter hikes

We hiked from the town of Afqa and its amazing waterfall that shoots straight out of the mountain side. Here it is up close, with our great guide Chamoun, and the hiking group.

And from afar, along the trail

T and I have been waiting 2 years to see this! It is a rock carved during Roman Emporer Hadrian's day, saying what species of trees to avoid cutting (juniper was one). Ancient ecology! There are a number of these around the country, but most are remote and hard to get to. One we have passed near before was inaccessible due to bee hives right in front...

Huffed and puffed my way up to this spot, with some help from T.

A little hazy, or we could have seen the Mediterranean beyond the far ridge.

Two weeks before the above hike we went snowshoeing. Below, Tom and Cam having a brief rest.