|Mohammed and his oranges|
But lately, he does not feel like Beirut is his anymore. The architecture, the landscaping, the people, it is all alien to him. Very few, and I stress on ‘very’, of his childhood friends still live in Lebanon. Most of them are in England or the States, a few in France, and the rest spread pretty much all over the globe; the fate of many of his generation. “I no longer recognize this town,” he added.
And these days, it seems we’re back to this migration movement. Beirut, or Lebanon, has little to offer to young people with dreams. You’re lucky if you make $3,000 a month. Young professionals struggle with real estate prices at $3,500 a square meter in the ‘normal’ neighborhoods. It is all a bubble, but it doesn’t seem to want to burst. You want kids? Prepare for a $9,000 price ticket per child per school year. I am lucky I have no debts, but both my kids would not be able to build a future in this town without our extensive financial help.
Where was I getting at? Oh, yes, I seem to spend most of my free time outside Beirut these days.
Some time ago I went down south where a Dutch lady owns an olive orchard with her husband. Actually, the husband inherited the olive orchard, and they have taken care of it.
Besides olives, she’s got ‘snowbar’ (pine trees), orange trees, lemons, pomelos, clementines and avocados. All in her back yard. All she needs to do is walk out of her kitchen and pluck. The wealth of that! She’s been in country for many years now, got wonderful tales about her family in-law, Israeli bombardments and local healers. It is a joy to listen to her. This country harbors women of a special breed.
|The view from her house|
She loves animals, so she takes in the abandoned neighborhood cats, and the tortoises. Whenever the tractor comes in to plow the soil under the olive trees, she walks in front of it, and rescues all tortoises that she finds. “If I don’t, they’ll plow right over them.” She’s got some 44 now.
One year, she got a white magic marker, and numbered them all. She had 44. The magic marker turned out to be not that magic after all, and after one thunder storm, the numbers all disappeared. As she is still rescuing, she’s not quite sure where she’s at now.
|Nabatiyeh, a town nearby. It looked like Cuba to me, at night|
Not much for a small story, but still, a story.