21.03.2012 17 °C
When I thought of Lebanon - before coming here - I imagined continuous heat. I expected there to be sand; a vista of desert like the one they talk about in the bible. Wrong (cue cheesy game-show buzzer sound).
Tyr, as it turns out, does have lots of golden sand, but its on the beach. I do, in fact, live in a resort town. The Lebanese come here in the summer to picnic and enjoy the Mediterranean… the Lonely Planet guidebook tells me the beaches here are the only decent, clean (relative term) public beaches in Lebanon. It would be a little bit like living at the mount in New Zealand, but without the hot surfer dudes.
The landscape around us is fairly hilly, but covered in rocks and scraggly scrub. The legendary Lebanese Cedar trees haven't been seen in these parts for quite some time. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find a decent tree that doesn't have an orange growing on it for miles. Interestingly, the Lebanese have a very 'modern' view on food miles and much of the local produce I find in the grocers on my block (bananas, oranges, mint etc) is literally grown within a 20 minute walk of my home. I'm told the lack of trees is due to the fact they were all burnt for fuel some time ago. It's a shame. It makes it look an awful lot like its been extensively defoliated using something horrible like agent orange (which it hasn't). Extensively JDAM'd might be a bit closer to the truth though sadly.
As for the heat, at present the temperature ranges from about 10 at night to about 20 degrees during the day. There is a cold wind from the ocean which can make things seem considerably colder in the shade. Apparently the heat is coming. In the summer it gets excessively hot. Tyr also has a mosquito problem in the summer, which is somewhat less exciting. My sweet blooded husband and children are already feeling their effects, but the buggers have left me alone so far (Hamdallah!). After finding a particularly nasty insect had taken a walk up Bens' forehead, we now have mosquito nets draped over the cots… trying to work out a way to attach them to the ceiling without doing anything permanent to annoy the landlord slightly more of a puzzle.
Having just said it's not that hot yet, I'm having some issues with the required dress standard here already. Shortie shorts aren't done on women (Nic, you would hate it here!). This reality is contradictory to the information I was given at home about women wandering about wearing crop tops in Beirut in the late 90's (mind you, it was the 90's, and it was Beirut. Things are a bit more conservative here in the south). If I'm honest, it's a great lesson in peer pressure and understanding why women wear the ḥijāb. I've been told it isn't actually the men (who will leer, but usually do nothing overly threatening), it's the women who spit at you for being a dirty uncovered whore. I'm not sure how far I want to push this, but I suspect the heat may do the pushing for me later on when it gets really hot… perhaps the spit will help cool me down? I did ask a Lebanese friend what the covered women do in the summer. The answer? 'Smell'.
Tomorrow, I'm booking flights to Turkey to spend ANZAC day at Gallipoli. I'm going alone, H has already wandered the battlefields and the overnight on the hill on the 24th seemed a little too difficult to deal with, with two eight month olds' in tow.
I'm actually unsure if I'm more looking forward to actually being THERE on ANZAC day, or leaving my sons alone with their dad for FIVE WHOLE DAYS.
Knowing him though, I'll come home to find he's managed to teach them how to read and walk in my absence. Dammit.