Sunday, May 17, 2009

a morning walk in Bishmezzine

I have only been in Lebanon for 4 days, but I can whole-heartedly say that everyone should come to this wonderful country! Of course, I am staying in one of the most interesting places filled with the most interesting, hospitable, and genuinely friendly people, and, of course, excellent food. My days are full with so much to write down but too busy doing interesting things to find the time.

View from the balcony outside my bedroom. It is night now as I write this. The sound of hundreds of croaking frogs are broken by the crying howls of hyenas coming from somewhere under these tall old pines. Behind the pines are the mountains.

On Saturday morning, I went for an early morning walk with my husband. These yellow sun-button flowers graced the ground beneath a grove of old olive trees. Geckos slithered quickly out of our footfall. The occasional lizard popped its head over a stone wall.

The sun is hot first thing in the morning and in a different place in the sky than I am used to (as a northerner), so it is disorienting. I thought it was 11 am when I looked up in the sky and I asked my husband, How long have we been walking? We'd better get back. We promised your brother and his wife to go with them to a luncheon. My husband looked at his watch and said, it's only 9 am. We've got lot's of time. The dappled shade under the olive trees is inviting.

Many of the olive trees are hundreds of years old. Now is not the time to watch salt intake when delicious olives abound! I've eaten the best olives...

...and the best oranges. Fresh oranges right off the tree for breakfast or a snack. The fields around me are full of orange trees, olive trees, grapevines, pear trees, mulberry trees, fig trees, peach trees, walnut trees, almond trees, and trees bearing small juicy apricot-colored fruit with 3 large brown stone pits that I have no name for in English. The mulberries stain your fingers a deep purple. My mother-in-law makes a cooling drink from the mulberry juice. My sister-in-law makes a cooling refreshing drink from sour orange-like fruit. My husband's cousin gave me a glass of refreshing drink made from orange blossoms when my brother-in-law brought me there on his moped for introductions on the way to his house to met his wife's sisters.

The pomegranates are beginning their bloom and will be ready late in summer. My brother-in-law told me it is a very messy process to make pomegranate syrup, very sticky and gooey so he's always looking for someone to help with this. I said, I won't be here then, so I can't help.

Old widower uncle who lives alone dries fava beans on the floor of his patio. I'll tell you more about his 150 year old house later.

There are roses everywhere. Old uncle widower, my sister-in-law, and many other inhabitants of Bishmezzine are collecting rose petals now to make rose water soon. I will post a post on roses and making rose water later.

On our walk, my husband and I passed this old sanctuary on the way back home. It is just up the road from where the Turkish artist, Atta, lives.

He's been here since the 70s. He invited us in to his studio home on the corner after shouting out to my husband, "Are you Omar's brother?" (in Arabic) as we walked past his place. After showing us his portfolio, he wanted to make us some tea but we said as we had a lunch invitation in Tripoli, we had to hurry back.

A rusty sign hidden behind gardenia and jasmine bushes tells travelers where the sanctuary is.


Merche Pallarés said...

Hi, Taina! I see that you are in Lebanon. Wonderful article--and pictures. I'm also writing about my trip to Colombia and I will be putting pictures as soon as I get the gist of it! By the way, there is a name for the fruit with the big pips: medlars. I'll come back and read your posts calmly. Hugs, M.

northshorewoman said...

hello Merche,

I hope your trip to Columbia was wonderful. I will read your posts most likely when I get back home (so I will be behind!) as it is too busy here for me to get much on the net except to do the Webct class that I am teaching; also, because we live off the beaten path outside of the village outside of the city, the electricity goes out here everyday for 4 hours. So, it is difficult to manage your time with that (or anyway, for me as an energy-hog Canadian).

Medlars are tasty! I read that they are good for Vitamin A and B6 and also potassium. Also, I read that if you eat too many of them in one sitting, they have a sedative effect for 24 hrs.

I look forward to reading about your trip.

Merche Pallarés said...

I'll wait for your return. Enjoy your stay in that beautiful country--Lebanon. Here in Spain we have a famous journalist--Maruja Torres--who, absolutely, LOVES Lebanon and the Lebanese and she often writes about the country and its people. I remember in my Toronto days that one of my best friends was Lebanese. Much love, M.

Mouse said...

What a wonderful surprise to read your latest post! I have wanted to visit Lebanon for a long time so I am really enjoying the cyver-tourism adventure with you!

northshorewoman said...

mouse, have you been to Lebanon? I highly recommend it. Everyone should come here and see this amazing country, its culture and its people. It is ancient and it is 21st century. The corporate media have done a serious wrong-headed stereotyping in our Western minds. I'm not sure if I will be able to write down what I am seeing/experiencing as I don't think I have the words for it.