Sunday, January 30, 2011

Back from Beirut!

Okay, I was back two weeks ago.

Here's a drunk photo I took of a drunk drawing I scrawled on the wall of a Beirut bar of two drunk people who I was one of:

My companion was prettier than my artwork gives her credit for (I think ... I hope) and actually got upset with me for my poor rendition of her. I told her I thought it was pretty impressive that I could draw anything at that point.

Beirut was not quite as magical as I remembered, a sentiment reaffirmed by the surprising number of old American AUB classmates who had found their way back to Lebanon for one reason or another. My lovely Arabic teacher even said that 2010's summer class wasn't as lively as mine.

Before I sound too spoiled, let me say I still had a great time exploring the country, seeing my معلمة
quite a bit as well as other friends I thought I'd never see again. I went to the bars, the clubs, and the Hezbollah sites of interest, just like old times. I even got the usual intestinal complications from eating street food, though at this point it was nothing compared to what I went through in Morocco.

I did do my best to fit what craziness I could into the two weeks I was there. There may be one or two stories that merit further exposition.

Scenes from Morocco

This was first family vacation in years I can say I actually enjoyed - there was that long phase called adolescence during which hanging out with your parents isn't fun, but I guess I'm over it now.

Morocco was surprisingly more ...
Arab than I expected. I never had a clear image of the country in my head, but because they speak a dialect that has about as much in common with classical Arabic as Italian does with English, I imagined Morocco would be some sort of strange Berber-French melange that was as detached from Arabic culture as it was the Arabic language.

I was mostly wrong - though we drove through green, misty regions in the north that looked more like Ireland than anywhere somebody who knew who Ibn Khaldun was would live - the cities I saw, especially the old cities and souqs, could have been taken right out of Jerusalem or Damascus or Sidon.

The prevalence of French was fairly annoying for a non-Francophone - I can't tell you how many times I explained to puzzled Moroccans, in Arabic, that I did not speak French - the only thing more confusing was when I told them
je ne parle pas francais...

P.S. If you were curious from my last post, Royal Air Maroc had no movies or TV, some of the seats were falling apart, and most of the reading lights didn't work - more precisely, they were impossible to control. They were off for most of the flight, but every once in a while a small cluster of them would spontaneously turn on for half an hour or so. The food was quite good, though.