sábado, 28 de junio de 2014

Good bye Beirut

I was in front of the Olayan School of Business at AUB, overlooking the Mediterranean, and I had just finished lunch.The breeze was warm and there was a huge yellow cat stretching next to my table and enjoying the sun. Women were strolling on the Corniche chatting, one veiled and dressed fully in black, the other one wearing a Micky Mouse shirt that fell off one of her shoulders.Young people on the AUB beach were jumping into the sea. Fishermen smoked and chatted while patiently waiting for the catch of the day.

I told myself:  "I am really going to miss Beirut."

I found out about 8 weeks ago that I am leaving Beirut. For good.

This was a long overdue move at work, something that I knew had to come at some point.The news came and I felt a wave of euphoria and excitement wash over my entire being. A new adventure for this Mexican!

But a few hours later, an eerie silence took place instead. And the following days the sentence "this might be the last time that I... (fill the blank)" started popping in my head, every time I saw a friend, or visited a restaurant, a shop or a building.

Good byes are always difficult.

So I got into the "getting things done" mode. I packed and booked flights for my upcoming trip. I found a new temporary home for my husband, my cat and I. I cleaned up the apartment and my office and sold my car. I scheduled good bye dinners and meetings. I've been eating at any chance I get Manoushe, Knefe and loads of Mezze.

The reality is that I have been unwilling to ponder upon what this all means. How do you say good bye to a place you called home for 4 years? And especially, how do you say goodbye to Lebanon? Beautiful Lebanon?

I decided to do things I had never done and meant to. So the other day I took the Teleferique off Jounieh and visited Harissa (Can you believe that in 4 years, I had never been??).

Source: http://www.lebanonbynet.com/

In Harissa, there is a statue of our Lady of Lebanon, overlooking the country. It was built in 1908, and some people say that during the Lebanese Civil War the statue turned to look towards Beirut when the city was under siege. That is why it is facing South and not towards the sea.

When I was on top of the hill, with the statue next to me, I was amazed once more by the beauty of this country, with its gorgeous mountains and coastline. I looked around me and I saw men, women and children from all backgrounds walking around and having a peaceful time on a Sunday morning.

I looked up and saw the Lady's peaceful and benevolent face looking back down at me. I closed my eyes and everything that Lebanon has meant to me, the wonderful, the scary, the love and the hate, the bombs and the beauty, all hit me at once. And I asked her "Please take care of this country beautiful Lady. Please take care of my friends".

I will miss you Lebanon. 

May you be peaceful. 

May you be safe.

Shoukran kteer. Bishoufkon qariban inshallah. 

And thank you to all the readers who followed me in this wonderful adventure!