Thursday, December 11, 2008

Some more Fresh Lebneh

Pita Log 3

I am now convinced that the coins are real. I mean, think about it, why would some one waste time and energy to fake something so well and then sell it for a mere $20? And with that brilliant deduction let me continue the tale of the intense day.

After Heliopolis, our next destination was the Bekaa valley, known for its fertile land and Hezbollah supporters. The hour drive up and down the mountains from one valley to the next was surreal. The terrain was breathtaking and resembled the harsh and stark beauty of Spiti and Ladakh (North India). The valley was huge, covered with shrubs and rocks of brilliant colors and surrounded by the snow-clad mountains colored pink by the setting sun.

A friend had contacted a farmer in that area who did some happy farming among the stones and he met us half way to lead the way to his house. His house was tucked away on top of a hill in a small village far far away from any other habitation. It was already getting dark so I could not see much of the village but it did have an fascinating mix of mosques, unpainted mud houses and a church that jumped up suddenly in the middle of this (mostly) Shia population. The inside of his house was even more surreal - with the old style heating system (the men in the family poured gas and then lit up a fire inside what looked like an iron pipe with a chimney), Allah-o-Akbar blaring from the loudspeakers (live telecast from the nearby mosque, it seemed), and one by one people of different age and sizes pouring into the living room, sitting around us and trying to converse with us in Arabic. The farmer served us some excellent Turkish coffee and tea (in really stylish tea sets, by the way) and lit many a cigarette as we got up, murmured Marhaba (“Welcome/hello”: one of the few Arabic words we had picked up) and either shook hands with the many guests or gave them three kisses (left cheek, right cheek and back to the left). Much to my surprise we made it back (in one piece) to Beirut. We did make a pit stop to pick up some munchies: the best Lebneh sandwich in the country from a road side bakery. And this was the day when I almost fell in love with Lebanon…



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