LEBANON DAY 16 Friday November 4th. 2011

The Great Amani

Lebanon Day 16 – Friday November 4th. 2011

It is still showing us how nasty weather can be with more rain, thunder and lightning. It is 8am No power again. Mt Lebanon is caught in its own little world. We are waiting for our friend and driver Talal. He is supposed to be early. 9am still no Talal. Guess he is flooded out in Beirut. Not a problem, he will be here when he can. We need to set a meeting time with Amani for today. I need to get my gold fixed. Tomorrow is the last day. Cannot believe it is almost over. It has been a wonderful experience all the way around. We are so glad we took a chance and came to Lebanon.  We love it here.

It is now 9:30am. Talal is here Joseph Salibyinvited us to his house.

Joseph Saliby

His daughter Maya let me use her computer. Tomorrow she will do makeup on me and do my nails. She will give me Lebanese make-up. She is an esthician. Very nice girl. Tala took us to Margo’s after I interviewed him. Neena met us at her house. She met with both Margo and Talal. She wants to stay and work in Lebanon. She still is up in the air though about staying. I feel she will be in good hands when we leave. She has both Margo and Talal pulling for her.

We drove Margo to Hamra area so she could teach. We then drove to Jounieh to meet with Amani and Ali. We had a wonderful visit. I also interviewed her. I have never seen traffic so bad anywhere in the world. It took us over an hour and a half to get from Beirut to Jounieh.

The Great Amani
Lebanese Princess

Amani has a beautiful home. It is so befitting her. Interview went well while Ali, Talal and Walid entertained each other in the salon. We talked in the office.

From there we went back to Achrafieh area to get Margo. She took us to a club in the Raouchy area where she used to work. Neena went with us too. It was very pleasant company to be with. The dancer was a disappointment. It was interesting to see such a poor dancer after spending a week with Amaniand such a fine degree of professionalism.

Our special and talented cousin
Really need a glamour shot.

Margo danced in her street clothes. She was wonderful. What a treat!   She must have been something special in her younger days. She is such a talent. The singer and the music were quite good. We got back to Bkstay about 3:30am. Now we have power. Go figure!

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LEBANON 2011 DAY 11

Sunday October 30th 2011

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.

LEBANON DAY 10 OCTOBER 2011

Saturday October 29th 2011.

The side picture is of Lebanese kemenjas or violins. Taken at Moussa Castle on Thursday. A definite buy next trip.

We got a late start to the theater today. Guess we are just a little worn out. Arrived at the theater and felt like I was back at Faisel’s in NYC.  Music was coming from every direction as classes were in progress. Watched Bob teach. He is fabulous. Missed getting his business card but he is a friend of both mine and Walid’s on FB. Want to interview him. Lucia is growing in leaps and bounds.  Just hope she is aware of how to use new material when she returns home. That is when you know if someone really benefited by the trip.  Really like Simon from Texas. So many wonderful people here including Theresa from Kansas City,  Amani Jabril from Georgia, Claire from Germany, Mario Harb from Lebanon. Plus of course Amani and Ali from Lebanon with Karin and Nour. I will never forget Margo and Francois. This is just a few. We waited so long to come here. And here we are with the stars of stars in Lebanon.

We had lunch with Simon  Claire and Mario. Great company.  Nice restaurant. Sure hope to meet all again. Wonder if Mario will be agree to do some filming for us when we return? He was sad today as it is the last day of the festival.

Finally got the list of who will be in the show this evening. Lucy is in. I am on the jury. Under pressure but very honored to have this seat. Neena has decided to use Toros as her agent.  Margo is willing to help her even with a safe inexpensive place to live while in Lebanon. Lucky girl. Wish I was 25 again.

Show time was followed after a reception which was like a who’s who of Lebanon’s tv and arts people. Walid got interviewed. He was so emotional that I will be surprised if he is on the clip. He is so happy to be back in Lebanon. Showtime! I sat front and center with Toros the agent on one side and Margo on the other. Show was great! Lucy started the show and also came in 2nd.  A great audience! She danced beautifully and really deserved the position. She was powerful and danced well. Walid could not join her on stage as planned. I understand, it would have made an unfair advantage. She won on her own power. San Diego finally on the dance world map.    Amani Fest

After the show we went to a restaurant to celebrate. There was Talal Itani, Margo, Lucia, Lorna, Walid and I. Got to bed about 2:30am. Glad the time changes today in Lebanon so I can make up an hour of sleep. Tomorrow at 4am the girls leave. We will leave the hotel that has been our home for 10 days. The staff and people there have been wonderful. On our return we will visit them. They all really impacted our lives and our visit. We go to Walid’s grandmother’s house in Bkheshtey. This will be our home for the next week. His cousin Selim Assaf will take us to his mother’s house which was Walid’s other grandmother’s house in Wadi Sharur. More relatives. I do love Lebanon.  Amani Fest Show