|Ramlet el-Baida on a Sunday morning, 8 AM. Quite a difference from last week photos. It was all summer-like then. Now we're back in winter-mode.|
Europe is 'struggling' with its Syrian refugees. Everyone is up in arms about the influx of hundreds of thousand of them. One million crossed into Europe in 2015 alone. About hundred fifty thousand of them have claimed asylum in Germany. Estimates however are that only half of them have registered. Holland has taken in about 50,000. And the local population is groaning. Voicing your opposition against refugees has become acceptable .
|Dogs on the beach. Two of them are 'local' dogs; they live on that beach.|
A simple case of clash of cultures. And it is what Europeans struggle with.
When I just arrived in Lebanon, I noticed that Lebanon women walked with a perpetual scowl on their face, a look of utter contempt. I, on the other hand, would walk with a smile and look people in the eye.
That this would invite complete strangers (always men, though), to turn around and follow me and engage in weird conversations, did not dawn on me, until I walked with a Lebanese friend. I mentioned this constant harassment to her, and blamed it on me being foreign.
|Remainder of the summer|
The eye contact and the smile is - in the more traditional Arab culture - an invitation.
In Europe, it is not. And so now I also often walk around town with a so-called ‘ bitch face’. When I see foreign women on the street, I can sort of judge, from the smile on their faces, how long they’ve been in Lebanon. It’s not a big issue. It’s a matter of knowing local customs.
|A scooter that flushed ashore during last night's stormy weather|
The choice of the beach is deliberate, as I - these days – tend to avoid walking my dogs during day hours on the street. Lebanese in general do not care much for dogs, but are not afraid of them.
Syrians, however, seem to greatly fear them, even the puny little mutts that I own. I do not feel comfortable walking my dogs, when entire families deliberately cross the street when they see me coming, having grown men ‘shoe’ them away, or otherwise display behavior that would indicate I am walking around with a rabid wolf or something. And I have them on a leash!
My husband is way worse; he lets them walk freely, and when walking past someone who is clearly afraid, he pretends they’re not his. It was not always like this.
|The life guard's platform|