Stories from Afar & Up Close

Lebanese lies

One of the most annoying things of living in Lebanon as a foreigner is that when you meet people for the first time, they will either try to convince you that you are crazy for wanting to live here, of they will try to ‘sell’ their country to you (neither of which has worked with me, just yet). Being crazy refers to the fact that, according to many Lebanese people, living here means you have to put up with Lebanese people, which can be a bit of a challenge. It also means you can be hit by a car at any moment or die because a passing politician is blown up right next to you. Those who try the positive approach usually come up with lame stereotypes such as ‘It’s a great place to live because we all speak 3 languages; English, French and Arabic. For example, we say ‘hi, kifak, ça va?’ To be honest, in more than 12 months in Lebanon, I’ve heard this phrase exactly once. Other than that, mixing words from 3 languages doesn’t mean you speak 3 languages, as far as I know – unless we would consider Dutch people tri-lingual because they use words like ‘shit’, ‘sorry’, and ‘überhaupt’ in their everyday speech. But I digress.

The other thing people like to boast about is the fact that one can ‘ski in the mountains and swim in the sea’ in the same day. Again, I have only heard once of people who did this (and they only did it to prove this claim is true). Usually, it is either too cold to swim, or there is not enough snow to ski. Yesterday it may have been possible though – judging from Sietske’s pictures, the weather was quite warm in Beirut, whereas we were up in the Cedars (around 2000m. above sea level), and this was our view:

Snow in the Cedars

For me, the temperatures up there felt like practicing for tomorrow: return to The Netherlands, for a few weeks. What's left for me now is to wish everyone Adha Karim, Merry Christmas, and a wonderful 2008. Until then!