Saturday, December 24, 2005
Lebanon 2005-6: Christmas Eve...
This is the second Christmas I've spent away from home...and what a different one it is this year. Though, not quite as devoid of Christmas spirit as I imagined...in fact, there are probably just as many Christmas trees in the city here as back home...and poinsettias all over, potted on the side of the road, in front of stores, museums...you name it!
Husayn's mostly on holidays now, so tonight we're going into Achrafiye, the Christian side of Beirut, for dinner. It's raining, but really it justs seems more like home this way!
So dinner tonight, and we'll have cake tomorrow to celebrate Christmas. The muslims believe that Jesus is a prophet, so I guess this isn't terribly strange for them. Though they won't be celebrating Christmas as such.
I've found everyone to be so tolerant and understanding of divergent religions so far. But there's no doubt that politics (and religion plays a role there too) is the most frequent topic of conversation. The civil war seems so fresh in people's minds here - and no wonder, some people have lived longer in war than without. Considering this, it's amazing that people can coexist so well.
All I do is listen around here...the stories I hear are amazing, and they're told with such...nonchalance.
Anyways, I'm having a great time. I went into the Achrafiye the other day and on my way back, encountered my first sticky situation...A service picked me up (which means they agree to take you to your destination) and the guy spoke english...I usually choose a taxi with someone in it already, and with an older driver, but I was cold, it was night, and raining...(I think I'm foreshadowing here...ah english 12) ANYWAYS, long story short, the driver was crazy (majnoune in arabic). He headed off in the wrong direction and wanted to stop to get his palm reader to tell his future. He said she'd come into the car. "She's so good. Look," and this is where he wrote his name (?) on a little piece of paper and put it under his shirt on his generous belly "i put my name, in my stomach, she'll tell everything"...and...well, in his "kind of" english this MAKES NO SENSE. He stopped the car (like parked the car in front of a building) and text messaged someone. I got out of the car.
He was being SO weird. It was night...And I got scared...went up the street and called home (home here, in the bourj). A Syrian man helped me find the road to more taxis.
From now on, no taxis at night alone. Too scary!
All this being said, the people here are incredibly kind. You want something? you got it. Use the phone? don't worry...directions? this is the best way.
Okay my friends, merry christmas to you! Love and peace!