Okay, so yesterday was maybe not quite the ‘last’ beach day yet. SIL and I decided this morning for a picnic on the beach. A ‘picnic on the beach’ is different than ‘going to the beach’; you’d need to live here to understand these finer nuances.
‘Going to the beach’ implies you are going to be in a swimsuit, and thus you’d need to go to a beach club where you pay, if you want to be left alone while on the beach. A ‘picnic on the beach’ means you’re not going to be in a swimsuit, and so a public beach will do.
Kids don’t really need much; as long as there are waves, water, sun and sand, you’ve covered the entertainment section. Food doesn’t really matter anymore after that.
|As long as there are waves, water and sun, you’ve covered the entertainment section|
Public beaches are sometimes referred to as ‘St. Balesh; balesh meaning ‘for free’. We haven’t had any storms yet, which means the beaches are relatively clean. After a serious storm, anything that floats in the sea in front of the Lebanese coast ends up on the beach. Some of it is good stuff (drift wood) but most of it is garbage. In winter, SIL and I come here often to scavenge wood for art projects (wooden mobiles, to be exact. Hopefully one day they’ll become a ‘high in demand’ commodity), and it’s amazing the kind of garbage you find, as if the Great Pacific Garbage Patch washed ashore. We love poking around in it, but many people here frown upon that habit.
I rather frown upon other things. It is odd that we (SIL and I) are always the only women that come to this beach alone. The only other women we see are (heavily veiled), accompanied by men. Or men alone. These men tend to travel in groups of four, five, and sort of post themselves close to our picnic place, and look. That’s all they do. They look. And look. As if we’re in the zoo. And it’s not like we are young, or a size 36, or even wearing anything revealing. It really doesn’t matter. They just sit and watch how we drag wood to a bonfire (a good picnic requires a fire), collect stones with holes, or heart-shaped stones (another art project in the making) or makes plans for the day when we don’t have to work anymore.
This one fits in the category of ‘awkward family pictures’
All this took place in relative peace, as some 50 kilometers further up north, a city is at war. 27 dead so far, in battles between the army and sunni gunman, but I am told there’s a little more to that story, things are not necessary what they look like, and no end in sight.
This is a little worrisome, because experience tells us that full-scalestreet battles sometimes carry over to other towns. But you rarely notice anything of battle once you’re more than 5 city block away.
We had decided for a beach up north instead of the south (of Beirut), because we didn't want to get stuck in the traffic of southerners going back to Beirut. We figured traffic from the north would be slow today. Well, that wasn't quite the fact: it was traffic (jams) as usual. We drove into town under darkness, since we changed back to winter time. And so in general , all was quiet in the west.