April 13, 2006

Summer coming up

Summer is in the air in Lebanon. T-shirt weather, sun glasses and ice cream. Margueritas on the beach. Floating in the Mediterranean Sea. Dinners outside, and fabulous sunsets. But can I get those long sleeved sweaters out of my closet yet? No! Just heard that it is 7 degrees in Holland. Dang, and I’ve got to go there tomorrow!
Lots of free days this week. One holiday on account of the birthday of the prophet Mohammad, and now we’ve got the crucifixion coming up, so lots of free days as well. All these religions do have one positive side; lots of holidays.

I visited Tyre this week, or actually the Roman ruins in Tyre, 77 km south of Beirut. They had a fantastic field of poppies, so I made some pictures. I would have show them here if it weren't for the fact that I cannot seem to get anything uploaded for the past week. Poppies always remind of this poem:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
- John McCrae

Tyre has a colorful history. It was conquered by – among others - the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar (586–573 BC), Alexander the Great, (in 332 BC), by after a siege of seven months and by the crusaders during the First Crusade in 1124. There’s an extensive necropolis, an ancient Roman cardo (street), an archway over the Roman road that led into the ancient city and one of the largest Roman hippodrome ever found. (all for the price of $4). All date from the 2nd century A.D. to the 6th century A.D. The necropolis consists of loads of stone and marble sarcophagi of the Roman and Byzantine periods. Often with bones still in them. Alongside the ancient Roman road are the remains of the aqueduct that assured the city its water supply. The partially reconstructed Roman hippodrome could seat twenty thousand spectators who gathered to watch the death-defying sport of chariot racing. (At least that is what they say).

I also went to Byblos, got fed up of making pictures so I don’t have any, and I went to the beach. Real Lebanese do not venture to the beach yet, for them the starting date is June 1st, but sun-starved foreigners do the weirdest things, and they go to the beach in April already ! I did go, but since the beaches have not been cleaned yet for the summer (never knew you actually have to clean beaches, but you do because you do not believe the amount of trash that gets washed ashore!), I had to wade through miles and miles of plastic bottles. Did find a clean spot in the end. Eddie went body-surfing, Hana dug a hole, and the dog sat in it. Hana screamed her lungs out and tried to get the dog out. To no avail, he liked the cool sand.
Next week it will be Holland, so excuse the hiatus.

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