Papa and I left Stockum early in the morning. I was very sad to leave Germany, but even more excited for my next journey: LEBANON! Papa and I got to the airport with plenty of time. Check in was fast and easym so we enjoyed a beverages at an aiport cafe for about an hour. With just over an hour to take off, I figured it was about time to head through security. Security only took 10-15 minutes. It took the rest of the hour to get to the plane. I had to walk and walk to get to the gate, passing through a passport checkpoint. At the gate they checked our passports again, checking to be sure that we had never been to Israel. Then I boarded a shuttle bus. After about a 10 minute ride to what seemed like the no man's land of the airport, we arrived at the plane.
The plane ride was pleasant and uneventful. Even sitting in the plane though, it still wasn't quite real that in just 4 short hours I would be in Lebanon! As the plane began to make it's decent into Beirut, I peereed out the window and saw miles
of multi-storied buildings covering the hills. Then it became real. I was really here! What was my first thought as I stepped off the plane? UGH, It's hot!!! (especiallz in comparison to the cool German summer I had just come from.) Going through customs was quick and easy. Even getting the visa was pretty much just showing them my passport and having them stamp it.
Finding Joanna was surprisingly easy despite the throng of people waiting just outside the doors. There she was with her dad, brother and little sister waiting for me with a bouquet of flowers. =) As we walked out of the airport, I could see buildings lining the hillside and a haze of smog settled over the city. It was bright and hot, but so exciting. Driving was quite the ordeal, especially in Beirut as cars darted in and out of traffic, driving wherever an open space might present itself. There were no traffic lights at intersections as cars just needled their way to where they wanted to go. A good set of brakes is definitely a must here. It was quite the ride from Beirut to Jbeil/Byblos. The quality of the roads suprised me.
They were nicely paved with very few potholes.
Joanna and her family live in a first floor apartment on the outskirts of Jbeil, up on the hillside. I was welcomed home with signs and balloons. =) They are all soooo sweet. =) Later that afternoon we talked about going out in the city (Jbeil/Byblos) that evening so the girls decided to do me up. They painted my nails, did my hair and my make-up. I felt very spoiled. These are all things I don't do well on my own, but are important here.
That night, we went to the old market (Byblos Souk). When I talk old, I mean old. Dating back to before the birth of christ. On the weekend, the market because a series of outdoor bars. One could almost envision being in someplace like New Orleans. The market was packed with people. Joanna, Joelle and I walked around, walking through old passageways down to the marina and back. We then joined George (Joanna's brother) for drinks with him and his friends. At the bar next to us they were playing music that would be heard in the clubs in the USA including some reaggaton music,
as well as hits in the european charts. Electricity received from the government is not always reliable, so the power went out a couple times, enclosing us in darkness. But, was soon picked back up by a local energy provider. It was a wonderful welcoming to the country. =)
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