Published: July 17th 2012July 15th 2012
It was a laughter filled, amazing last weekend here in Lebanon. As I believe I said in the last blog, our initial plans for Saturday, going to Baalbak, were canceled due to renewed fighting in the city. Instead we stuck around here and went on a picnic with a bunch of Joanna's friends to celebrate a couple birthdays. We met early to organize ourselves and get the goods (i.e. shop for food). Then, we piled into several cars and headed up the mountain just past Harissa. We found a nice spot (minus the trash left by previous picnicers) under a grove of trees and enjoyed the day. We spent the day grilling, eating, playing raquetball, etc. I even got to play backgammon. =) (It's probably my favorite game, but I hardly get to play it at home with anyone). The game originated from the Middle East, so everyone was very very suprised that I knew how to play. =) It was a great day! =)
Sunday, the whole family went up to Derya. The Maronite religious leader of the Bartroun region (northern) was visiting Derya for the first time. A special church service and community lunch was organized to welcome
him. The church was filled with people. Chairs had been set up outside with loudspeakers and a tv screen showing the altar, so those outside could follow the service. Lunch was good, but man was the food line crazy! There was a semblance of a line for the buffet tables, but really, people just crowded in wherever. You had to kind of elbow your way in to be able to get to the food. ahhhh.... I felt like I could breath and relax once I had my plate of food and headed outside to eat.
After we got home from the village, it was looking like it was going to be a lazy Sunday. Boy did that change. =) Instead, Joanna informed me that we would be going out for dinner and dancing that night with some of her friends. Cool, sounds good to me. =) I figured dinner, ok, we'd be leaving around 7 or so. Nope, not until 10ish. Hahaha... I should've known. Nothing is early here in Lebanon. =)
Shortly before 8, we got a call from Samer, Joanna's cousin telling us there was a museum in Amchit, a nearby town, showcasing traditions from various
yep, even here! =)
regions of Lebanon. She asked if I wanted to go, figuring it would only take about 30 min or so. hahahahaha... we were so very wrong! It turned out, it wasn't a museum, but rather the last day of a three day cultural festival. When we got there, they were showcasing an example of a traditional wedding from the Baalbek region, with camels, horses, dancing and all! =) It was fun. Although, a little difficult to see through the crowd. Even more amazing than that though, the Lebanese President was there, President Michel Sleiman! Joanna and I, along with the throng of people around us, clamoured for a spot to see him. We caught a glimpse of him. =) It was pretty cool. After he left, much of the crowd dispersed and we found Samer. Together, we walked around the exhibits, showing silk weaving, traditional dresses, glass blowing, pottery making and more. I am so glad we went. However, the initial 30 minutes we had anticipated had turned into 2 hours!
Getting home at around 10, we had 30 minutes to get ready to go out, as we were getting picked up at 10:30. Of course, we did it
and looked beautiful. ;-) I didn't really know what to expect from the evening, but it certainly wasn't what was in store. We went to dinner at a traditional Lebanese restaurant. We didn't order off of menus, but rather throughout the evening they brought out different dishes. The lighting in the restaurant was kind of muted adding a coziness to the environment. Traditional Arabic music was blaring from the speakers as the singer/keyboard player moved from one song right into the next. He really was very good. It wasn't till almost 12 that the appetizers were brought out (hummus, fries, 2 different kinds of salads, another sauce I don't know the name of... all very good food). The room was still filling as more and more people trickled in. There was a haze in the room as it was filled with the smoke of cigarettes, cigars, but mostly hookah. It actually didn't smell bad, cause really all you could smell was the scented hookah. It didn't take long for people to get up and dance. We danced Debkah (traditional Arabic dance) and belly dance (well, kind of). It was soooooooooo much fun. Of course I was out on the dance
President Michel Suleiman
He's the head you can see between the two men in white hats
floor too! hehehe.... Various dishes continued to flow out of the kitchen with the last of the main dishes (grilled meats) coming out around 2am or so. It was unlike any dinner I had ever had before!!!! =) We closed the place down at shortly before 4am. Wow, simply incredible!!!! =)
We got home, and I crawled into bed with a smile on my face. My last weekend here had come to a pleasant end.
There are more photos below