April 01, 2014

Odds and Ends

Mountains above Beirut
 Things are warming up in Beirut. Nothing has exploded recently, but car bombs seem to be getting dismantled on a rather frequent base. The pressure is building up. And the overall well-being of people is not ‘well’. And so this is a post about the things we deal with on a daily basis.
The hike involved some mud

A friend of mine is planning her exit from Lebanon. This is my third female & single friend that is forced to leave the country, in the past two years, because financially it is just not feasible to live in Lebanon anymore. And these are not women that just came for a year or two; no, these are ladies that have lived here for 10 years or more. One lived here for some 30 years. They lived here through bombings and civil war, but the times are changing. This is not a county for single women.  During a conversation with friends recently, we realized that living on a single salary in this place is a virtual impossibility, especially if it is a ‘Lebanese’ salary (as opposed to people that work for international companies). Bit by bit, poverty sets in, and many are forced out.
Beirut Air traffic controllers were on strike today. They demand higher pay.  Women’s Rights groups also protested; they believe that the domestic violence law does not really protect women from domestic violence. And this AFTER the homicide of a number of women ( Fatima al Nashar, Roula Yaacoub,  Manal Assi , Roukaya Mounzer and Christelle Abou Chhakra) who were killed by their husbands. In some cases, mothers in laws were involved in the beatings as well. It can’t get more twisted then that.


 And they say that tomorrow is a general strike. The unions and electricity workers are demanding a pay hike.  Of course, I am working in the only company in town that is never ever on strike.
 Nothing has exploded recently, but because we (as in, collectively) feel that with tension running this high, things cannot hold much longer.

Because we know that moments like these are precious, my SIL and I went hiking way up in the mountains above Beirut with our kids (rephrase that: ‘with the kids that still will go out with us’) .
 There was some mud involved.
 The mountains above Beirut are teeming with man-made hill reservoirs. Apparently Lebanon has some 4,000 mountain springs that each discharge more than 10 liters a second. These reservoirs collect water from the springs and from melting snow. I am not sure if that is still the case after a rather dry winter, but here in the hills it was wetter than wet.
Hill reservoirs help farmers and local communities store water for the summer season, when water is scarce.  It is not used for drinking water, but for irrigation and farms. These reservoirs typically hold no more than 50,000 m3.  Apparently the construction of these reservoirs started somewhere in the 1960’s, but further development has been slow, even though they’re easy to build, easy to maintain, and cheap. ‘Despite the favorable topographic and climatic conditions, and the need for water, Lebanon did not significantly expand its efforts in the construction of hill reservoirs, due primarily to the circumstances in which the country has found itself over the past 17 years. ‘ Well, what else is new. (source)  
We ran into an old shepherd’s shelter. In the old days, shepherds would move with their flock for an entire season into the mountains, and they had shelters such as these where they slept. And from the looks of it, the flock as well. Most of them have been replaced by concrete shelters now, but this one was still in a relatively decent condition.
 We were admonishing (halfheartedly) the kids not to get too muddy. To avoid puddles. Not to romp through mud. Not to get wet.  Not to make their clothes dirty. Not to this and not to that.

And then my SIL stepped with her brand new shoes into mud. It sucked at her shoe, and then it was either she in the mud, or the shoe left in the mud. She chose for the shoe. (“My new shoe. This is my new shoe,” she moaned.)

The kids thought this was extremely funny.
Many people stay home over the weekend. I do not understand how they do it. If you do not unwind over the weekend, how can you endure the tension in this town over the week?
Let's see what this week brings.


Fadi said...

I love reading your blog Sietske, always interesting :)

jbech said...

nice as usual.

Chucky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlotte said...

Hoi Sietske! Na 3 jaar in de VAE te hebben gewoond zijn mijn man en ik weer terug in Libanon. Ik ben altijd je blog blijven lezen, al kreeg ik van de foto's wel altijd heimwee! Misschien een beetje brutaal maar ik zou het ontzettend leuk vinden om eens mee te gaan op een van je expedities, als dat mag :) Ik heb wel een peuter bij me maar die kan in de rugzak :)