October 01, 2012

Chaos and Mayhem on the River

Rain has been threatening for a few days now

The city is warm and humid and sticky. Fall is trying to take over, but summer won’t let go yet. Rain has been threatening for 3 days now, coming from the south, but there’s a wind from the east that won’t let it in (says my weatherman at home, and he knows). There’s a hot breeze over town. Even in the mountains it’s hazy and hot. Time to get out of town, and so I thought I’d take some friends to this nice cool green spot on the river on Sunday. A perfect place for swimming and picnicking.

30 kilometers from Beirut. Well, maybe a little more. Got lost a couple of times

I have been there a couple of times before, so surely I’d be able to find it back. Right? Right. I had it even programmed in my GPS. Or so I thought. It may have been that that was another picnic. ‘Picnic on Ibrahim River’, it said. But I’ve done quite a few picnics on that river. And so I am driving up and down the mountains, through small villages, over sandy roads, turning around a couple of times, changing directions, all this with 4 cars in tow, filled with little children that are wondering why ‘aren’t we there yet?’, and dogs that get car sick and vomit all over your upholstery, and Lebanese husbands that are wondering “why did I ever agree on doing this? Why why why why?” and Dutch wives thinking “I should have left him at home.”

They took it all in good stride though, and in the end one of the Lebanese husbands found it. This perfectly secluded spot at the end of a dead-end road, and which can only be reached on foot, through 3 tunnels (of which 2 very long and very dark).

Still 3 kids missing somewhere . . . 

When we got there, I must say that the picnic spot appeared a lot smaller than I remember it to be last time. It must have shrunk over time. And so here we are, 10 adults, 11 kids and 3 dogs, with loads and loads of cool boxes and bags and baskets, on the river side, but very little space to sit!
With some shuffling around we finally make some space, and just as we are about to relax, kids jump in the river, and dogs get excited and go in the water, and then they get out of the river and with muddy feet and paws walk all over our lovely arranged picnic blankets and back into the river and back out of the river, dripping all over the place (kids) and shaking themselves (dogs) right next to us. You get the picture.

A dog digging flip-flops under the sand

When we had that arranged (“You can only get out of the river in that spot”, “do not walk here” and “stay away!”), had the dogs tied up and the children fed & directed to higher grounds, we thought we’d relax. But at that point in time the children decided to explore the neighborhood, walking around on bare feet between the brambles and the broken glass (previous picnickers had left all their trash, which we had to clean up first), climbing rock walls with huge boulders that could come crashing down any moment, and building fires in a forest that has received no rain since last May.

Ice cold, emeral green water

But hey, we’re Dutch. Nothing fazes us. And we stoically ignored the absolute total chaos and mayhem around us.

We nibbled our food, shared our wine, commented on each other’s dog training abilities, and swam in the emerald blue-green water. I swear, that’s not Photoshopped. The color is THAT green. Or blue, maybe.  It’s at a point where the Ibrahim River is stuck in a little canyon, and the electricity company has build a dam a long time ago to generate hydroelectric power. The EDL  has  4 power plants on that river but this is one of the smaller ones. Isn’t it dangerous to swim near the dam? Nothing is ever dangerous in Lebanon, is the general attitude, because if we’re going to worry about what is dangerous in this place, you might as well stay home.

Some Dutchies in the woods on the Ibrahim River

And while the rest of you stayed at home, and a hot and humid and sticky city, we wiled our Sunday away ‘along the banks of the river of Ibrahim’ (where we sat down yeaheheahyeah . . . ). And very slowly,  with the emphasis on ‘very’, our stress levels dropped and finally dissipated completely.

Three water nymphs (Yeah?I'd like to see you look like this at our age)
We swam; the water was so cold that it hurt, and when we came out, everything felt warm. We bribed our kids with chocolate and ice cream to make them cross the river time and time again, so they’d sleep nice and early. (Mine fell asleep in the car on the way home, as it should be). And on the way back, we treated them on ice cream (as promised).
And so I ended up – after a long day – with ice cream drippings on the back seat, a house full of sand, a dog full of flees, a content child, and a heart at peace.

Yet another dog?

And we planned to come back again, because it is so easy to find (not), and so close to Beirut (30 kilometers only, according to my GPS), so quiet (until we arrived) and secluded (that part is correct) and beautiful (totally true). You should try it sometimes, could be very relaxing.


Patrick said...

Did you try going up to the waterfall?

visnja said...

great story Sietske! <3

Missing Lebanon Terribly said...

OMG such a great story, thank you for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

Water Nymph..... LOL

Simon said...

Amazing post. Amazing location.
Absolutely love reading your blog with all it's lovely pics and adventures.