March 12, 2018

I'd Rather Live Happy Than Well

When you readers wonder if you are still alive, then I guess it is time I post something. It is mind boggling to me how I used to churn out almost a post a day, and I had small children then who needed care and entertainment. I used to go on picnics far into the country! These days I do not get beyond a range of some 50 kilometers of Beirut, and my kids entertain me. So how did I get to be so busy? I changed jobs, and although it is a more demanding job, that can’t be it because I used to juggle two jobs side by side for many years. Instagram takes some of my time, but not that much. Guess I am getting old.

You've got the mountains

So time to post something.
Beirut is as chaotic as ever. Elections are coming up, which is an insult to just about everyone in town, as nothing is really being elected but rather the pie is being divided amongst the ones in power, the grand majority of whom are relics from the civil war, war lords,  or those related or connected to war lords, or who are otherwise fed by them. I have given up hope in that department. We will forever be a Banana Republic.

and the sea

And yes, there are the power cuts, the double bills for all amenities, the traffic jams, the slow internet, the pollution and the ridiculous cost of education, but a Banana Republic has its advantages too. The lack of rules and regulations is rather liberating, and this may sound strange to those who crave it, but go live in Holland for 5 years, and you get what I mean.
A friend of ours mentioned the other day that he’d rather live ‘happy’ here, than ‘well’ outside. 
I have thought about that statement quite a bit this last month.  And although that may make no sense to those who are struggling to make ends meet in this place, but if you can afford to pay your bills, than Beirut is the place to be.
The pinkish hue of Lebanese sunsets

Because Beirut can be lovely. Three days ago I had lunch with two friends in a rather tiny restaurant in town. Actually, only one table fits inside, so we had to sit with two other customers. By the end of the lunch, we were basically friends. We figured out that his parents have a house in the same village as where my husband used to spend his summers, we knew what they did and where they lived and worked and heck, since we told them they should get married, “I mean, 35, seriously dude, what are you waiting for, she is a lovely girl” we’ll probably get invited for the wedding too. That, I dare say, does not happen outside. So you take the lack of public services for granted, while the structure of the society keeps you happy.

"Malik el Vols" taking a look at my (daughter's) van

So what have else have I been up to? Well, I spend my weekdays working like a dog, and my weekends walking my dogs. Last Sunday I started out with three of my own but ended up with nine in the end. They seemed to be coming out of every nook and cranny and joined our pack. The switch between winter and spring is a special one in the mountains. There is the sound of running water everywhere, and there is grass. Being a Dutchie, I have an affinity with grass, and there is lots of it now. It doesn’t last long and that is why I cherish the couple of weeks when the hills are green.
And so yes, I work hard, but I've got a job, and an interesting one at that, so I count my blessings. 

Mountain hike with friends (and dogs)

The winter is pretty much over, which is sad 'cause I got to ski only once, but the flip side is that the sea is here, and so is spring. I’ve been going on lovely afternoon boat rides, where all you see is unhindered sun sets, soft breezes and pinkish hues on the horizon. It seems, as I have claimed years ago, indeed something in the atmosphere that makes sunsets unique to the location, and the Lebanese ones are truly unique. And what may be spring for you is like summer for a Dutchie, so we’ve been swimming already. Granted, it seems to be jellyfish season as well, but that’s okay. They’re so huge you cannot really miss them.

Never thought about it but yes, you can carve your name in Arabic as well into a tree. This reads something like "I love you" with a date somewhere in 2014. I cannot decipher the name. 

The hippie van is still in the making. We have located Grerius (George in Arabic), who apparently is known around town as the ‘malik al vols’ (The king of the Volkswagen)  who - at the ripe old age of 68 – has taken an interest in my bus. His verdict was that the clutch was loose, the brakes non-existent, the exhaust was exciting in the car (I had noticed that bit) and that the steering wheel had ‘play’ in it.  That car will most definitely drive for yet another 50 years (it’s from 1969). I’ve already located some fellow Volkswagen van aficionados, and we’re totally going to move this hippie scene to the next level. The other day I met a lady the other day over dinner, and was surprised to hear that she had similar aspirations: she also wanted to become a hippie. So more to come on that front.   

On my commute to work

Then I keep getting letters from my Dutch bank, inquiring where I intend to pay my taxes. Another reason for being grateful for that I reside here. No amenities, no old age pension, bad roads, pollution, corruption and fake elections.  A Banana Republic by all accounts. 
But I’d rather live happy than well.


Anonymous said...

Instead of continually criticizing the poor state of affairs in Lebanon, why don't you make a difference and run in the up coming elections as the catholic candidate for Beirut. You have my vote already. Nice post btw. :)

Unknown said...

What kind of tree is the tree in the photo?

rob said...

Busy with Instagram? I cannot find you there...

Sietske said...

@Anonymous: Be careful what you ask for: I am a social democrat and if you see the tax plan I have in mind, the social housing plan I intend to finance with that, the taxes on gas, cars, the fines you will get for double parking, texting in cars and god knows what else, you'd probably have me blown up :) Oh, and I will also tax you on houses that are standing empty. Rent control, that's another one.

@gert visser: Banyan tree (

@Rob: sietskeinbeiroet 9

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the time as always to post your daily adventures.
Have been following you for a very long time and feel like family, be well
be safe! 😘