This is the Lebanon I came to see. I think it’s the fact that this is the Lebanon I grew up with that makes it closer to my heart than the busy-body hub of Beirut city, but the mountainside feels like it has so much more to offer a wandering soul like mine. The filled-to-capacity streets of Beirut are exchanged for giddy roads that wind up the mountain, while the sound of hooting makes way for the loud Arabic beat of the derbakke and the exciting bubbles of the arguile.
In Beirut, people either stay put in their air-conditioned apartments to escape the melting heat, or head to one of the million air-conditioned restaurants or fake-air malls. Up in the mountain, families gather on their balcones (balconies) or stayghas (patios), playing cards, eating mezza or jast chatting the night away in their pyjamas and slippers, breathing in fresh mountain-top air.
The rush of getting from one place to the next, taking into account the amount of traffic, the number of buses and the time of day makes way for a lifestyle where you wake up without an alarm clock, eat at leisure on the porch, walk to your gran’s house further up the village mountain, stop along the sidewalk on the way back to purchase fruit, pick some more fruit in your own garden, pop over to the neighbour to give her some pears (where you’re invited to enjoy some freshly baked pie), receive the other neighbours for a drink which you enjoy while listening to the night croaking of the garden frogs under a very visible starlit sky. This is my Lebanon.