Awakened every morning by a local rooster. Guy owns the town and let us know.
In the area we stayed up the mountain Lebanon apparentlly has a lot of tree frogs. We heard a bunch at two different outdoor restaurants earlier this week and I've heard them periodically throughout the evening via my room balcony door.
Lebanese food is very, very good, especially the meat and fruit, but dinners often go late, as in return-from-dinner-at-11:00 pm. Two fellows from Jordan, who of course speak Arabic, went shopping. Said things are cheaper in Lebanon than at home in Jordan. I saw them just now. Came back carrying stuffed plastic bags.
I've learned to enjoy watching little Lebanese children whenever I've had the chance. The wee little ones, like any wee little ones anywhere, are especially cute. Here, though, they're real eye-catchers because of their usually big dark eyes and lots of curly black hair. Beautiful kids.
Beirut climbs the mountain or high hills if you prefer, which makes for fantastic views over the city and sea. People on the hills and back into the mountains often live on property owned by their families for several generations. And, like anywhere, it’s cooler at higher altitudes.
People in Lebanon tend to live in religiously-defined areas, including in Beirut where you can see or drive through both Christian in “East Beirut” and Muslim in “West Beirut” areas or neighborhoods. The level of social interaction between these areas varies with circumstances at different times. Commercial interaction pretty much exists except in the most tense of times.
Parliament Square and blocks around it were shattered by the war in the 1980s, but the buildings in this downtown district have been beautifully and meticulously rebuilt. Government buildings and shops like Starbucks, ice cream, and souvenir stores line adjacent streets. Police are everywhere in evidence. A “mall” populated by high-end stores is located along three or four streets a couple of blocks away.
Martyr’s Square monument is rather interesting to say the least. The statue was erected in 1937 to memormialize the Lebanese who suffered under a blockade by the Allies in WWI. The people endured famine, starvation, plaque, and the hanging of nationalists on May 6, 1916. The statue, amazingly, survived the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990) and is now riddled with bullet holes. It is a poignant and important symbol, a salute to the resolve and resilience of the Lebanese people.
The Lebanese people I have met are friendly, capable, and interesting. They are well educated, multi-lingual, and generally involved in the pursuit of some profession. They’re very much into family over multiple generations and they think globally, in part because they have so many Lebanese relatives living in diaspora worldwide.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011
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