Journal - Napló

Day 126. Hezbollah - Goodbye (Lebanon 8.)

Posted on December 9, 2011 at 11:10 PM



   Eventually, we didn’t get a job on the Boi Branco and though the first officer recommended another ship that was looking for manpower, we gave up the idea of us, I mean, me continuing the journey on a ship. Given that it can easily turn out that after a few weeks Kenneth will follow me, we decided I’m going to travel onwards on land. Thus, he’ll catch up with me more easily.

   Although with Talal we sailed for the sea twice, we didn’t get to Cyprus.

   Since still there wasn’t any answer from the Irani embassy, I applied online as well which resulted in an approval in a couple days. I was given a code with which I will be able to pick up the Irani visa in the Turkish town of Erzerum.



Day 126.


   In the morning I set out to say goodbye to Sousou and the Syrian buffet manager.

   After the ’date’ –though I have bought cookies from her since then- I thought Sousou might have misunderstood the invitation, but the atmosphere of the saying goodbye proved me wrong.

   Probably I’ll never know if her sympathy was meant for me or the world that to her I represented.

   Though the customers were coming and going, there were times when it was only the two of us in the shop. She offered me freshly baked cookies, a friend of hers made a picture of us and, thanks to a ’coffee guy’ dropping by, we had coffee, too.

   She was sitting on her chair behind the counter and when I told her where I would go on, she smiled and asked if she could come with me. What happened next was typical of the atmosphere: though she asked that in Arabic, almost without any gestures, I still understood. I showed she’d have to get in my backpack and I’d take her with me. We laughed. She ran back to get her purse. She returned with a bracelet and a ’blue eye’, a stone mostly symbolizing care and protection from bad luck. I gave her a hug, unintentionally. She got a little embarrassed but with the same momentum she kissed me on my face.


   I said goodbye to our Syrian friend as well and I went back to the office. Kenneth visited an internet café in order to check what towns we would be passing. I lay down on the couch and, for a few minutes, I got lost in daydreaming. … That is, I would give up the whole expedition, ’take’ the girl, ’free her from the prison of the tower’ and we’d live happily afterwards… On the bracelet I could still smell her perfume.

   Though I knew I was captivated by the emotions and still they control me now when I’m writing these lines, but why wouldn’t we let ourselves go? For a little bit.

   When Kenneth got back, I was already packed, ready to go.

   I said goodbye to Daniel, too. During our two-months-stay in Lebanon we met almost every day, many times outside working hours. We visited his parents several times, we played basketball, often we just chatted, debated for hours concerning questions on the Bible, Jehova’s witnesses.


   Talal, too, shook my hand wishing the best of luck. He understood and supported our decision, i.e. we part ways for a while and thus both our ’projects’ can go on. He expected Kenneth back and made him sure that he’d help him out with jobs. He asked where I’m leaving for. I told him I’d go to Turkey across Syria, then Georgia, Iran or… who knows? ’Or back to Lebanon’ – he said, smiling, indicating I’ll be welcomed in the future.


   From town, we took the bus through the mountains to the road leading to the Syrian border, then we put our thumbs out. With a few brief rides we were already above 1000 metres on the mountain roads. The little towns up here are forsaken, most of the people fled to the sea for the winter period. The air got noticeably colder. We were just walking across an inhabited area with extra layers on us when a truck slowed down near us and the driver –with a camera in his hand- showed that we get in.


   We got as far as 3000 metres high with the 7-tonner. The mountains were made even more enchanting by the rain- and storm-clouds, and the barrenness was almost complete except for a suddenly appearing cedar forest. The lean driver of the vehicle himself was filming eagerly. Occasionally, we stopped and got out in order to immortalize the scenery.


   It was already dark when we started descending at the other side of the mountain. As we reached a populated area –though we hardly communicated during the journey-, we were invited to the home of our ’mountain guide’.

   As we entered, there were plenty of children in the hall and portraits of the Hezbollah’s leaders on the wall. While we were unpacking, the guest kids said goodbye one by one and went home with their mother. We went over to the warm kitchen, there was only the family and us. Father, Mother, two daughters around 20, one tenish, and a few-months-old baby.


   The kitchen floor was covered with thick carpet, in the corner, in front of the kitchen furniture there were long, short, back-rested mattraces and an oil stove.

   Soon we were all sitting around an abundantly set table. Out of the big pita bread we tore smaller pieces and, using them as cutlery, we got to enjoy the diversity of the Lebanese home-made meals. There were two sorts of cheese, radish, scrambled eggs, potatoe toasted on the stove, ’pasta cones’ stuffed with meat, soured zukkini filled with rice and spices, humus (chickpea), yoghurt, olives, fig compote and apricot jam.


   And the atmosphere was so familiar and light as if we had known each other for a long time. After dinner, we smoked water-pipe, drank tea and coffee and the ’fun’ lasted for another four hours. The communication consisted of the few English words the elder girls knew, some Arabic words we knew, using maps and Arabic-French and Arabic-English dictionaries. We watched the videos made in the mountains and we played a board game with 6 clams instead of dice.

   Mother and the daughters were kidding one another, the Father playfully patted on his wife’s nose with his wet hands and grinned. We laughed and we laughed. The presence of the rules regarding the Islamic family was so natural that these rules –though they were still kept,- got forgotten.


  The eldest girl was proudly telling that she’s the member of the Hezbollah and how bravely their soldiers resisted the Izraeli attacks. They could hear the bombs dropped 120 kilometres far from there. She showed us that up until today, Izraeli planes spy in the Lebanese air space on a regular basis.

   They made two huge beds for us – their beds. They slept on the couches of the living room. When I was going to get my backpack, I wasn’t allowed in the cold room that got rearranged to a ’women’s section’. The Father showed that they put our stuff in ’our’ room. We fell asleep under vast, heavy covers.

   Next day we had breakfast together, then the father took us to the main road. With two rides, we reached the Syrian border and, changing the visa, we entered the ’land of Assad’.

translated by Agoston Galambos


Categories: English, Lebanon, by Peter

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