Saturday, 6 November 2010

My friend, the chocolate eclair

Today I ate the most beautiful chocolate éclair of my life. I am kind of hoping that the éclair is saying the exact same thing about me too. Not the eating part just the beautiful. Actually I sort of regretted eating him so quickly. I think we could have spent a magical day together (actually I suppose we still did and at least now that I have eaten him I know he will be mine forever.) Maybe the lady spiders are onto something – eating their mate and all. Excellent way to keep them close but not in your face.


I got home quite late last night – late for me anyway. I went to Gemmazzeh to visit one of the many bars that dot the quarter. It reminded me of London – full of sexy, young things, low-lighting, moody music…and the odd man with a machine gun patrolling through the revellers. Actually, I suppose the last bit is a bit un-London. I ended up chatting to two guys working in Dubai called Nabil and Yoop. Surely there is Pixar animation waiting to be made by the same name. They sounded like two guys on weekend prison leave – I don’t think Dubai was really the place they wanted to be We had a good laugh anyway and then I left them to stagger off into the night while I made way back through the quiet Beirut streets.

This morning I woke up early even though I felt very tired. Mercy was fluttering about the guest house – giggling as she worked. I looked at my very crumpled map of Lebanon ( I cannot fold maps correctly – never have, never will) and decided to visit the seaside town of Batroun. It is well on the way to Tripoli and it felt like it too. The minibus I caught took a very long time and I was quite grateful not to be in the BDGS today because the driver was a maniac and nearly crashed a number of times. Generally I don’t mind sitting on minibuses for long periods of time. I don’t know if this is a personality trait or the fact that I was born in Australia where everything is a long distance. Or may be I am just lazy because at least when I am on a bus there is nothing physically I can do but sit, think and occasionally brace!

Once again the minibus dropped me off by the side of the highway with some vague arm-waving in the direction of the sea. Fortunately an unlicenced 17 year old Saudi girl called Norma picked me up in a very smart, shiny black car and took me down to the old town. The fact that she was unlicenced didn't bother me as I don't think a licence really means much in these places any way. She also drove very well which I complimented her on. I told her I was visiting from Switzerland for a week to get some sun. She looked at me ( instead of the road) and said after a while: 'Yes, you are very white. You need sun. Not too much though you don't want to get too wrinkly.'

According to the guidebook Batroun is a lively, Maronite village. If comatose is a synonym for lively than perhaps this is true.

Comatose in a good way through. The streets were so quiet it was just me and the cats who were largely rotund and friendly.

I think the gentleman here ( pictures left) summed up the place perfectly. Just smoke your pipe and watch the boats.

After wandering the narrow lanes I I went down to the sea to inspect the remains of an old Phoenician sea wall which I found quite impressive.

See my rarver arty shot here of the Phoenician wall through a church window.

I even sat down beside it for a while to show it my respect.

I then visited the various churches around the town, one of which was preparing for a very glitzy wedding, before making my way back to the highway.

I am now the Queen of Beirut public transport as I managed to make it all the way home using local means instead of expensive taxis. I rock!!

Now once again I am home. I can't believe my time in Lebanon will draw to a close soon. I don't think I ever quite established my rhythm here but it is definitely a place I would like to return to. I didn't make it to see Khalil Gibran's birthplace but I think that is perhaps because this is not a journey I am supposed to make without my heart ( which as you may remember I left snuggling up to toy pig back in Basel.)

I think I will go out again now and wander the Beirut streets; perhaps eat some fattoush and drink some fine wine.

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