Saturday October 22nd, 2011 DAY 3
We arrived in Beirut about 7pm last night. We were met by Issam, one of Amani’s people. He drove us to the hotel which is near the water front. and Rouchie. Not the finest place we have stayed but it is clean and the staff seems really great. Margo came to see us and we visited in the restaurant and had shwarma sandwiches for supper thanks to the hotel manager, Mustapha. I love Margo. She came to see us after teaching. She is like her Mom. But so full of life. We had a great visit, food and coffee. We then went upstairs and unpacked and made our room home for the next 9 days.
Funny thing happened in the parking lot of the airport. We were following Issam to the car. and someone called out “Walid” . Walid did not react as he was a few steps ahead of me. But I turned and when I did a voice called “Walid Assaf!” it was (John Harb) someone who used to go to U Mass Dartmouth when it was still called SMU. He used to come to the Continental. Such a small world. What a nice first thing to have happened
Walid is now picking me up some Lebanese coffee. That should wake me up. The room is fine and the bed is very comfortable. Will go down for breakfast and plan our day. Seems like one of Lucy’s suitcases wasleft somewhere. Did not come in with her. Has her costume, of course. Sure hope it arrives ok. Last night spoke to both Amani and Ali. They welcomed us to their country. We will meet with them sometime today. Everyone is so nice.
We have a driver for $75- to take us out for a day. Have to plan this.probably Sunday. His name is Wissam and he is also a bazouk player. This morning we started out to walk to Rouchie but went shopping instead with the girls. I bought nothing. We walked the Hamra for hours. Hard to believe I am finally walking a street that I hav heard of for about 30 odd years. I did find a top I like at Vera Modal. I will go back on Monday. The girls arrived here about 9:30 after breakfast. We first found a little shop where we found really cute things. Pprice of items really inexpensive but the engraving cost was outrageous.Lucy bought quite a bit and Lorna got a couple of things.I opted out. Sales girl’s name was Noelle. If I find nothing else I will go back.The top I saw was $30- Only thing I liked.Lucy and Lorna both found dresses. Then they spied a shoe store with the most amazing shoes ever. Talk about eye candy this was shoe candy. This place was a belly dnacers dream. Jewelled shoes like you have never seen. Lucy got a pair of $350- shoes for $150-. Walid is quite a talker.
Then we found the theater. . Lo and behold next to Dunkin Donuts. Now you know I am at home. Al Medina Theater is fairly run down but has a wonderful charm. The dance room is a mess with a tiled floor but we can make do. No mirrors! Next time I will bring my camera. We had lunch in a Kabole place. One of a chain that is next to the theater. Tabouli and spinach sandwich for me. Was great! In looking for a restaurant we stumbled upon a house set back from the street with a wonderful walled garden. We entered and found a lady who is distantly related to Walid who told us all about the house. it is a haven for women. A shelter! They make olive oli soap and other natural things to sell. Something fell at Walid’s feet while we were in the garden. It was a necklace. Walid handed it to the lady and she said “It is yours” Walid said “It just fell off a tree” ” She said “it is then yours” he was confused and said “Me”? She nodded yes so he said “Then I will give it to my wife.” So I have this lovely necklace I will cherish for life. A gift from God. Out of the blue. We walked till we got back to the girls hotel, The Royal Gardens. They have a lovely foyer. They served us tea but water was the choice for me. We just chatted for a while. Nour from the Amani team came while we were there. Nice guy. His job is to make sure everyone was well taken care of and comfortable. He told us all about the festival. Later Walid and I walked back to our hotel called Dream Suites. Not far, but we lost our way. Saw the Mediterranean Sea and finally found our hotel. One of the workers who we had chatted with early in the day saw us and showed us where it was. Such a nice guy. He saw us looking puzzled. Nice gesture. His name is Khalil. We were so close.
Took a nap and woke up about 9:30 pm. A fabulous day. Lot’s of walking. Decided not to go out tonight. Tomorrow we are going on a tour. I am having a glass of wine and then back to sleep. Bed is so comfortable. Walid is downstairs talking to the staff. Talk about bonding in your own country. So far so good. Till tomorrow, then out of the city. Poor Beirut it has suffered so. It is all around us. Buildings that are half built and some not touched. Kind of brings back memories of London when I would go with my Mum after the war. Beirut is beautiful. You can see what it was. iI is trying to get there again. I hope it does.