Wow! Where are we? On holidays already? Hiking in some exotic place?
No, this would be Rauche (West-Beirut)
Now that I walk through my neighborhood (car still not fixed. I know I know, I am harking on and on about it, but it’s been three weeks now, this is beyond ridiculous), I discover all kinds of secrets; Little alleyways that I thought were dead-end streets, quaint little stair cases and short-cuts right through the jungle. Buildings that I have passed at 50 km/p/h for years, turn out to be beautiful retro apartments from the 50’s, still in their original state, when Beirut was at its best as far as architecture was concerned, and little gardens where families gather in the afternoon to drink tea.
|Photography can be very suggestive . . . This girl appears to be walking in nature|
|. . . yet we are very much in the middle of a one-million people city.|
My favorite is this large piece of fallow land, right in the middle of town, wedged in between high-rise, main thoroughfares and million dollar apartments. It looks like nothing. Part of it is parking lot, the rest just lies there. It’s not a park, nor a construction site; just a piece of land.
I have been driving around this piece of land for some 20 years now. Now that I walk, I discover that I can walk right through it. I had to go to the pet store, which is at the bottom of the hill, but I have to circumvent this entire lot. Easily done by car; A hassle on foot, because it is downhill and then uphill again. (The pet store is in a dead-end street at the bottom of the hill.) And so I tried my way through it. The parking lot attendant showed me a narrow path. It goes right through a field of (currently) pink and white hollyhocks and bamboo. If you use your imagination, you could be hiking through the mountains. It’s a fantastic short hike, beautiful, and for a brief moment, you’re not in Beirut anymore.
|Not in Beirut . . .|
|. . . and then there's a little stair case . . and your back in the concrete jungle|
A veritable urban jungle!