After life is exploded, changed, dehumanized, there are shattered pieces that do not heal for years, if at all. “What is left are scars and something else – shame, I suppose, shame for letting it all continue. Glances at the past where solace in tradition and myth prevailed only brings more shame over what the present is. We have lost the splendors of what our ancestors have created and go elsewhere.” (Anthony Shadid _ House of Stone)
Halfway through the summer season, as the sun rays bakes the earth beneath and the sweltering heat spreads,what seems like its long lasting hands, on Lebanon’s coastal towns, a wondrous spiny yellow and orange little cacti fruit makes its entrance to the market, sold on carts.
The Mediterranean Sea hides amongst its waves stories told and retold, waters so rich in history that would quench any thirsty storyteller on its salty shores. Such is the story of a small coastal town 23 km south from Beirut with a 7km sandy beach named Jiyeh. When the monk Godard visited the village during the 1900s, he described Jiyeh as a town fenced and surrounded by palm trees, and cactus plants.
The call of the wind breaks through as we all fall in line. Lost among the footfalls, the mountains are our shrines. As the rocks hold the beat, while nature sings her song and the sun brings its heat as the wind pushes us along, I think to myself how picturesque is this land, how beautiful is Lebanon.
There is something quiet poetic about the Lebanese landscape and how it is integrated in every aspect of our lives. Depending on the region, food, words, dialect, and dress changes. Different religions and areas all have slightly different undertones to their dress and way of life, yet somehow they all seem to mesh together in creating this cultural heritage that is very much what makes this country not only so diverse but so rich in culture.
Driving in the city, under the scorching sun, we stop at an assuming little ice cream shop on the ground floor of a rundown building carrying bullets that echo of a past life that reverberates of times where bombs ripped the city’s skies. Echoes that no one hears anymore amongst the city’s cacophony of sounds.
There is something quiet exceptional about ka’ak bi halib, or milk cookies. The mahleb and the anise echo the flavors and fragrances of home. Soft, chewy, buttery, sweet, fragrant, and comforting, they melt in your mouth, leaving behind the after taste of aromatic spices.