March 26, 2013

Things to Do on a Sunday

Nahr el-Kalb - 31 km long - in spring time. It runs from a spring near the Jeita Cave to the Mediterranean.

I often get the comment from Lebanese that I have seen more of Lebanon than they have. That is not totally uncommon, and you may feel vindicated if I tell you that any tourist in Holland probably has seen more of that country than I have.
However, it isn’t really an excuse that you guys don’t know your own country any better than this. You (Lebanese) often seem to make poor choices when it comes to weekend activities, and I know this from the friends of my children. The question “What did you do this weekend?” is most often answered with 1) “Nothing”, 2) “Went for lunch in a restaurant with my parents”, 3) “Went to ABC with my parents,” 4) “Went to my grandparents” or 5) “A friend came over.”

The kids aren't really listening to the explanations

 Although I am sure there is value in all of these activities, I do think that children living in Beirut should be taken out of town on the weekend for numerous reasons. It battles obesity (what do you do at home other than eat and watch TV on the weekend?), exercises them, exposes them to new experiences, and shows them their country. ‘Don’t have the time’ is a lousy excuse if you do have the time to go out for lunch. Don’t know how to go about it? Let other people organize it for you if you are a newbie at it. Click here, and you’ll know what is going on as far as outdoor activities in the country on a day-by-day basis. So. I am done with the lecture.

Hmmmmm, the adults aren't really listening either.

 While in Holland people were ice skating, a couple of Dutch friends planned a rafting trip this Sunday. We have kids in apartments, and they need the outdoors. Now that the temperatures are rising, the snow is melting, and the rivers are at their highest point; perfect time for rafting.
Rivers are classified according to their gradient, constriction, obstruction and flow rate, and the ones in Lebanon do not exceed a
Class 3 category. Dog River (Nahr el-Kalb) is river that can only be navigated about one month a year; beyond that one month, the water level is so low you’d get stuck at every rapid.

And off we go. (Picture 'stolen' from MM)
 Let it be said; we are not experienced rafters. We can swim, and some of us have done a river or two, all in Lebanon, but nothing serious. Besides, we rarely take anything seriously, and when together, talk too much and have difficulty focusing on things besides the conversations.

Notice the little munchkin in the middle. "I will not do this again," she reportedly told her father afterwards. :)
As such, the guide was not very confident that things would go well. He tried really hard to make us understand what we had to do, but I am afraid we weren’t very active listeners. But heck, what could go wrong? Well, the boat could sink. And that it did. Inadvertently, I apparently caused one of the valves to open up. Then we sort of almost flipped over, lost one occupant of the boat, lost a paddle, and then the boat took in water. So much in fact, that further paddling became useless. We were about to sink!  

We're sinking and smiling! These are things children will remember later on in life (I hope)
Boy, this has never ever happened to me before,” says the guide in surprise. And I am thinking, you roll with the Dutch, and all kinds of things happen.
Now we’re stranded by the side of the river, no money, no phones, no car keys and no road. And so we sat down, waiting for a guy with a pump to pump up the raft. As one of us had gone overboard, she decided to take of her top in order to let it dry, this to great wonder of the Syrian workers on the river bank; talk about culture shock!

But it all ended well. The raft got re-inflated, we continued our journey, and made it to the finish line.
Lebanon has about 5 rivers on which rafting trips are organized. The
Nahr el Assi in the Beqaa Valley has the nicest waterfall, but is otherwise rather tame. The Awali and the Litani River are in the south, and the Dog River and Ibrahim River are north of Beirut. Our next move now should be rafting all five of them. You hear that, fellow rafters?

Made it (Picture 'stolen' from MM)
So what did you do over the weekend?


Amy said...

Hi Sietske, I love your blog.
I clicked on the link to find out how I could organize a rafting trip, and it linked me to a webpage with lots of activities, but not a rafting trip like yours. Could you please post the website or facebook page for the company that does the rafting trips on Dog River? Thanks!!

Sietske said...

Hi Amy, we did it with these guys (, but I know several others organize it as well. Enjoy.

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