23 days left in Lebanon…
Yesterday I went to Jounieh, a higher class, more organized city north of Beirut to visit a family who I’m great friends with. The plan was to watch the Champions league final (hurrah Bayern), and then to go out afterwards for some nightlife fun.
This family I visited is filthy rich- the father being a Harvard-educated doctor. As soon as I arrived in the early evening, the maid of the house, a Filipino woman, was told to bring me snacks, donuts, fruits, beers, whatever I wanted. My friends then set up two arguileh (hookah) water pipes and we sat outside for a few hours catching up and talking about a variety of topics. Mostly we spoke in English, but occasionally we slipped into Arabic conversation. I was eager to show off all I’d learned in the past few months.
The football game was more-or-less exciting. None of us really cared too much about the German teams, but I was interested in getting to know better the teams that I’ll be following next year while studying in Germany. After the game, we headed out to the Jounieh nightlife scene.
I’m not always that much into nightlife or burdening my liver with tons of alcohol, but I do enjoy seeing Lebanon come alive at night. Walking through the not-too-crowded cobblestone roads, we checked out pub after pub; some bumped beats from Snoop Dog, some Nicki Minaj, some Pink Floyd; all were full of people of ethnicities of every kind. I have to say… it isn’t always easy to figure out exactly what a Lebanese looks like or whether they’re tourists or locals.
The younger generation has really made this country a mash-up of cultures. There are Aristocratic French-speaking Lebanese, Lebanese who speak perfect American-English and dream of moving to New York (many of them do move there), Lebanese who are hippies, metal-heads, sports fanatics, athletes, shy, aggressive… terrorists? No… I’m pretty sure it’s difficult to find a terrorist here. Which brings me towards my ispiration of writing this message.
My entire family and all my friends in California feared that I’d fall victim to the “dangers” and “anti-American sentiment” that exists throughout the Middle East. The only thing I have fallen victim to though is the beauty of this country and its people. Generalizing all of the Middle East as a hostile region and as an Al-Qaeda backyard will only make one’s world map a smaller, less intriguing world map. The Middle East is alive like no other place I’ve ever been to, and I couldn’t recommend visiting one single other place over visiting this country - Lebanon.