We got to the airport about 2am after spending the evening with Talal and Neena. Talal drove us to the airpot. We went to a club. Was the beginning of the Eid so every one was out partying. Such a fun time. I was exhausted with no sleep the night before and the thought of flying home and leaving this wonderful country and wondering if I would ever get back again. I felt so sad. Lebanon has stolen part of my heart. We met wonderful new people. We touched family and friends from the past. On arriving at the airport we ran into Maroun Khoury from New Bedford, MA. The saga of Walid knowing everyone on the world goes on. Met 2 girls from San Diego at the airport too. They are from Escondido. Small world. The flight from Beirut to London, just great. Beirut took all our luggage and no extra fees. Maroun sat in front of us.
Left London with no problem after spending some time talking with Maroun. He left for Boston and we went on to New Jersey. How I hate Newark, New Jersey . Every time I have ever flown into there, there has been a problem. We missed our flight to San Diego. They are so unorganized and rude. We had a 3 1/2 hour layover and missed the plane. They sent us to the wrong gate 2x. Then were putting us on stand by. Can you imagine on a Sunday night. Plus was the night of the NY run. Totally exhausted and not seeing straight. Walid finally convinced a nice English girl that if his wife was unhappy so was he and that was not a good thing. We immediately got on a flight. I do not know this girl but will be forever grateful. We arrived home at 9pm. Lucy picked us up and we finally got home to our own bed. With the time change we had been up the equivalent of about 32 hours straight.
Our wonderful perfect trip is over. Back to reality that is life at home. I thank all the wonderful people who made this trip my gift to my husband. But I cannot wait to return. To this magical country called Beirut where modern life reels with the ancient foundation of the world.
We are living in Bkheshtey in the Aley district (means high place) and was previously known as the bride of the summer in the area of Mount Lebanon. It is truly beautiful. Visited the lady next door named Yvonne yesterday. What an incredible lady. She is 91 years old, so smart and so cute. Other neighbors came in to see who was visiting. Her house keeper/health care aid is Sophia. She is from Sri Lanka. Great girl. Tonight she visited us again. I like her. She offered to clean out the house for us. My biggest concern is staying warm. Last night my face felt so cold I could not sleep. At least we have power tonight. I came on at 6pm . Should have it till at least midnight then off till 6am. Then on from noon to 6pm. No power then tomorrow night. Guess I will get used to it. We have been invited to a wedding as guests of Talal’s tomorrow night. He is doing a wedding zeffet and he letting us video and check it out. I am so hyped.
Today we visited Aley with Talal as escort. This is where Walid grew up. Had a wonderful lunch at Tarbouch. We visited some old haunts of Walid’s in the center of town. We ran into several peole he used to know including an old school teacher and the owner of the fruit store remembered him. We were given the best fruit ever. We visited Samir Khoury at his lovely home. This is Riad’s brother. I know him from Fall River. We then went to where Walid’s house was.
So sad. Area completely devistated. Nice places partially rebuilt next to those empty demolished buildings. All of Lebanon is like this but here in Aley seemed to be worse. They really got hit hard during the latter part of the war. We ran into people he grew up with. Still there! No where to go. It is home. So sad! They look like homeless people with vacant expressions. Walid was so shocked. These people grew up as neighbor hood kids. You could see the quality that is now a forgotten dream. They thought I was Amal. Really hit Walid hard. He looked like he had been punched in the stomach and the air was pushed out of him. He wishes he had not seen it. I wish he had not also. Now I know why my cousins did not want me to go to my grandmothers old house in Westcliff. Just remember it as it was.
Margo got the small theater that belongs to the El Medina Theater to book the entertainment. Good for her. Great news. She is such a hard worker. This was last night.
Khaled called us down for breakfast. We sat and chatted with him and the Maitre-De. Very nice, helpful people. Selim Assaf, Walid’s cousin picked us up at noon in his Hummer with his son Carl. So nice! Took a beautiful ride in the Hummer to his Mom’s house. This house in Wadi Sharur was Walid’s grandmothers and he spent a lot of his childhood there. Had a wonderful lunch with the entire family. Walid’s Aunt, Selim’s Mom, his wife and children. Plus his brother Raghib, wife and children and his sister and family. This house belonged to Assaf side of the family. The houses is upgraded beautifully. The Aunt lives on the first floor and Raghib and family live on the 2nd and 3rd floor. He runs the AC company with his brother. Great family all the way around. Made us feel very welcome. Pretty neighborhood. Houses all stone. Only regret is my camera was packed. Want to go back. Lovely people. Can see why Walid loved it so much. Rained lightly here and a little bit cooler than the city.
We then drove to to his grandmother’s house on his mother’s side of the family. This Melecki’s house. Located on Mount Lebanon. Another house Walid spent so much time in. This house has had no guests in four years. No one lives here now. Very quaint. All stone. Nice large rooms. We arrived at exactly 6pm. Only know this as the entire area went black as we pulled in the driveway. It was much colder here than in Beirut. Thank God I brought sweaters and socks for both of us. This place is so village and so old Lebanon. It’s name is Bkshtay. Guess it means dragon. The house is now just a summer house for family. I realize I could live here just fine. Four rooms is enough for us. There are only the two of us. Who needs eight rooms in CA with patios enclosed and gazebos etc. Just more to clean. Needs some work. Think the roof needs repair and there is war damage on a couple of outside walls. Talal is coming up tomorrow. He is taking us out to see the sights near Aley. We left a bag in Selim’s car. Talal will get it for us. It was all the costumes etc that I purchased plus passports. We need them for sure. My error I should have done a last check. I was concerned about us finding our way around the house. Should have known better than to trust the men. Sent Selim and Walid to buy candles at the corner store. Reminds me of West Wareham. The only corner store! We lit candles and found the gas for the stove. We needed heat. The store owner’s son came up at 7pm to make sure we had all we needed. Now, how wonderful is that. He does not even know us though his father remembered Walid. We have heat, a stove, electricity (sometimes) and water. So much for the comforts of home. The power came on sometime during the night and scared us half to death. The TV, the radio and lights came on. We had gone to bed and it was really cold. By daylight we will sort it all out.
Another fabulous day. This morning I taught my class. Power went out as I started but came back on as soon as generator kicked in. I taught from 9:45 till noon. great class. I come alive when I am teaching. Especially when I have good dancers in class. I covered both Sattouta and Amouna. They loved Sattouta. just fell into place after being at Beit el Din yesterday.
Had my Dunkin Donuts. Talked with Mario Harb awhile. He seems to like us as he has befriended Walid. Also had a long chat with Maya Goarry of Italy. So sweet! Then Amani Jabril of Georgia and I came up with an idea to work together for another tour to Lebanon but not a festival. need to pick select people to attend. Walid and I are also talking about doing more things in Lebanon. I want to research the dance here. I got a new watch. it is cute and different from what I usually wear. Came back to hotel to change clothes. Then it is back to the theater. Amani Jabril asked me to critique her class. i really like her so am happy to oblige. Walid renewed his phone. Sophie the French girl asked me if I would like to go to France and teach. I can do that. I would love to.
Amani, Ali and Nour are back to normal. The whole thing is winding down. They have so much responsibility. Must be a relief.Tonight is student performance night.We will be there to support. Neena should dance. Get out there. Margo will help her but she will have to work her butt off. Margo can get her a place to live that is inexpensive and safe. she also has an agent. he wants her to study Kaleegy for Ramadan Shows. It is a start. She will really need to work hard but she is young and can do it if she really want s to. Again thank goodness for Walid.
Francois Ramieh was Margo’s fiance for 10 years.He is a fabulous dancer and choreographer. Cannot wait to see how the girls made out. Georgia took the Orientale with Francois and Lucy took the veil class with Margo.
Show was did not really exist . Only one girl was prepared to dance. Theresa from Memphis. Too bad but she was game. Do not understand why some of the others thought they were good enough for the competition. They should have been more realistic and been in this show. Theresa did an fine job. have to give her credit. She is a nice girl. Knows Cindy/Shahira from Knoxville. Afterwards we went to Stambouli’s with the girls. Food was excellent. Nice surroundings. Got home about 11:30pm great evening and meal.
Got a very early start this morning after very little sleep. Went to bed after midnight. Was up at 2am and again at 4am as Walid was taking a shower. Gus Hernandez picked us up at 5am and we were on our way to Lebanon. Got to the airport in plenty of time. At check in we discovered we had an extra case that cost us $70-. Am thinking maybe Margo can use it. No need to bring it back. Our flight to Newark left at 8am. sharp. We did finally get seats together. Glad of that. Kind of got a chuckle they gave me a handicap spot. Flight was uneventful. Had a hamburger in Newark. Called Renee, Dolores and Mark. Texted Lorna, Lucy and Gus to say we were fine. We boarded for London just in time. At 6:15pm the captain announced we would be leaving. Then it took another hour as some luggage was found but no customers. They had to find the luggage and take it off. Hence the time delay. Had a great supper after finally getting up in the air. Took a nap and watched a movie “A Fish Named Wanda”. Quite cute. We flew at about 32oo feet. The outside temperature was -40degrees. We are about half way across the Atlantic near Iceland. We have about 3 hours to go to get to London.