Friday, June 19, 2009

From Lebanon, With Love . . .

Was thinking about Beirut, Lebanon today because my sister-in-law who lives there was here in Paris for a few days, and returned back to Beirut yesterday. It seems like only yesterday we were there with her for her wedding, but it's been two years since then already. So two years ago we spent 15 days between Lebanon and Syria. All I can say, was it was not enough, and we would love to go back. Funny how certain places leave a feeling engraved in memory which may be hard to define in words, but which comes back when triggered by an image. This picture of the bread man pushing his bike, with a black BMW in the background, is one such image for me. He was determined and plodding on, his customers were going to get their bread, no doubt about it.
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Beirut is a paradise for abandoned car lovers. This Mercedes had seen better days. It had probably seen worse days also, as the civil war raged on for year after year. Lebanon is a scarred country, the people who lived through that period are deeply marked by it. They do not wish to return to the nightmare they knew for too long.
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I've said in a few previous posts in these pages that I don't tend to do postcard type photos, but am slipping this shot I took in Baalbek in here just in case you may not be planning on travelling to Lebanon any time soon, if ever, and might have been wondering what some of the incredible Roman ruins there might look like. Baalbek was known as Heliopolis back a couple of millenia ago, the temple there was among the largest in the ancient world, is remains one of the best preserved. . . If ever you have the opportunity to get there, don't miss it. . .
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25 comments:

James said...

I doubt I'll ever make it to Lebanon but it's nice to see pictures.

desi said...

Yes, very good pics! I wonder what's the story behin dthe old mercedes? ..creepy!

:)

Steve said...

Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "bringing home the daily bread". He's certainly earning his.

Nathalie said...

When I taught French in Sydney one of my students was originally from Lebanon. She migrated to Australia when she was 14 and still felt homesick, despite the good life in Australia.
She loved speaking French because it was one of the language she'd learned at school. It was full of fond memories for her. She certainly made me want to visit her country one day. But I should do it with her.

Nathalie said...

Oh and re Wednesday's post - don't tell me there is no naked body in your top photo, this whitish shape isn't a rock!!!

the watercats said...

At this point in my life, I would love to get anywhere in the world! I'm afraid if I actually managed to go anywhere it would un-lock my supressed wanderlust and I'd just keep going, never to be seen again.. Your photo's look amazing, and sadly seem to highlight the usual divisions within society.. As for the ruin.... bloody ell!

joo said...

I've never been to Lebanon, but it's one of the places I really would love to visit! Great shots - the first one is outstanding!

louciao said...

I find the Breadman Cometh photo rich with meaning and a wonderful "capture" (as you photo types say). I also think you should reconsider your stance on not making postcard pictures: the angle, sharpness, contrast, content, tones of the Roman ruins all add up to a breathtaking image. I'd definitely pay my 25 cents for it if it was on the postcard rack.

La Framéricaine said...

These are wonderful photos, Owen. Le F's last girlfriend moved from Paris to Lebanon almost 20 years ago and we hear from her regularly. I hope to visit her and her husband when we finally get settled permanently in France.

I have never failed to find that citizen of Lebanon have extremely fond memories of their studies in French and work very hard to retain their French language schools. One of our companions on our return from Paris in June was a Lebanese man on his way home to Alabama after a long family visit. He was accompanied by his wife and daughter, 10, and he talked at great length about his love of the French language. It was a nice intersection for both of us.

Buskitten said...

Hi Owen, What wonderful photos of Lebabnon - I particularly like the one of the guy pushing his bike and the BMW - inspired shot! There are so many countries I would like to visit, and this is certainly one of them, I wonder if I ever will? Have you get anything nice planned for the Toads and Tadpoles this weekend? I have a couple of job interviews next week, so preparing for them I think would be a good idea - competition is fierce these days! (Maybe I should send Tiddles instead!)

swan said...

These pictures and this post have a very moving effect in the center of my chest. The man with the bread reminds me of my home in Jamaica... My Great Grandmother used to buy bread from a man in the early morning and also what more do you know of this temple, who was celebrated and worshiped here... Do you have more details on the temple. Also thank you for following my blog, I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am enjoying yours.

jeff34 said...

Ciao Owen !
Ben tu sais le mec avec sa mob, il a du perdre son morceau de pain qui complétait son logo Audi ( oooo )!'faut pas se fier aux apparences ! jamais !
Ta série de photos est bien belle ! Mais ma préférence va vers cette Audi maquillée en mobylette ! ! !
Merci également de livrer un peu de ton histoire Owen ! Merci !
Bon, je t'attends pour la tisane ! J'ai changé la formule... et je comprends pas, elle reste collée au fond du verre maintenant ! ! !
...<8:)

Manuel Alejandro said...

la foto de las ruinas romanas es impresionantes el templo esta en muy buen estado y rodeado de la nueva metropolis es una buena postal

robert said...

Heliopolis could be translated into city of the sun (having Greek routes)...it is my firm believe that these countries will see the sun of civilization again as bright as it once was.
Having many friends from Iran and Palistina am always connected to this piece of earth too.
Please have a nice weekend.

lady brains said...

Funny that I was listening to Beirut the band right when I read this post! Thanks for stopping by my blog! I think you may have been my first guest :) I'll be posting lots of fisheye photos soon when I get the time and internet connection. I really enjoy your photos, by the way.

Margaret Pangert said...

Baalbek in the evening is magical! I went to a Georges Moustaki concert there at night--it was so beautiful and in French of course. Everything seemed so French, from the beaches to the casinos to the haute couture shops in downtown Beirut. The Lebanese have such a joie de vivre, too. I had to leave in an armored tank to the airport in 1973, and the country was devastated shortly thereafter. I understand they're making huge efforts to re-create the old days.

The Sagittarian said...

That bread man (having risen early no doubt) was obviously not loafing about, probably thinking "Crumbs, must get this lot sold"; wonderful photos as usual! What an interesting life you're having eh?

Owen said...

Amanda, tsk tsk, you are just carving me to pieces (with laughter) with your crumby punning ! And after a hard day hoofing it all over Beirut, he likes his whisky rye... Anyway, I hope he manages to make a little dough doing what he does... :-D

Margaret, wow, what a trip, if you care to, please send me an e-mail with more of your story of what you did in Lebanon and your experiences there (email is : owenphil at wanadoo.fr) I think people get very attached to Lebanon, it is a gorgeous place, scars and all...

Lady Brains, thanks for turning me on to "Beirut", hadn't come across them before... amazing what one can find on YouTube... and thx for dropping in here, glad you like the pix...

Owen said...

Hi Robert, alot of sun worshipping going on back then... hope your connections in Iran and Palestine are safe and sound, in these troubled times...

Hola Manuel, my Spanish is not so good, (my apologies!) but yes, a very impressive place indeed, very humbling to visit.

Salut Jeff AmigoPix, en fait, je pense qu'il a perdu quatre pains circulaire, car ce n'était pas le logo Audi qu'il avait, mais le logo des JO, car il fait un marathon tous les jours pour vendre ses petits pains... et oui, la tise pour ce weekend, certes, faut pas la louper... peux-tu me pardonner d'ailleurs pour mon manque de visites, cette semaine au boulot était infernale encore... désolé, j'ai pas été bcp ni chez toi ni chez Lou ni chez Nat ni chez personne, car Débordé et épuisé, mais bon, le weekend arrive et j'ai trois jours...

Swan, there is lots of info on the temple of Baalbek on the web on various sites, the history is rich and fascinating, but I'm far from being an expert... speaking of fascinating, yes, am beginning to discover your writing on your blogs, and will be back... am happy to meet another Robbins fanatic... with Jamaican jitterbug roots... have never been to Jamaica, would love to someday... closest I got was Haiti

Hi Liz ! Good luck with the interviews ! Given the trouble Tiddles had filling out the forms, I'm not sure he should fill in for you... anyway, did he get home safely from the beach misadventure ??? Well, I hope you will one day be able to go all the places you can dream of ... Tiddles is going to help you do that, I'm sure... :)

*SparkleMirror* Kiln-Fired Art Studio said...

Hi Owen, I remember seeing the fighting in Beirut on TV and it coming to life for me, and watching the devastation of this wonderful metropolis. I hadn't realized before those images (I vividly recall them now) and the interviews with former citizens who had come here to escape just how modern and delightful a city it was.
I think this is the first time since then that I've heard a personal story about a visit there. So this is a true pleasure, your account. Until now, I think I'd subconsciously written the place off, as just the images of destruction scarred me, and thinking about the city was painful.
Thanks for creating a pathway back, Owen... it was very nice to read.
David

*SparkleMirror* Kiln-Fired Art Studio said...

PS -- I also want to thank you for including SM in your list of favorite blogs... Yours is a delight, and a pleasure to place on mine.

Owen said...

Hey Fram, jeez, where are you, somewhere east of El Paso (as in :

"Out in the west Texas town of El Paso, I fell in love with a Mexican girl... "

Hope you are having a fabulous road trip, sure as heck looks like it... So, you have a Lebanon connection too, will look forward to hearing more one day when we can sit down and chat. Yes, from what I saw alot of folks there are quite attached and proud of their French skills... it remains fairly common in certain schools I think. Suppose that dates from at least the French Mandate period... because I doubt the Turks were behind it... happy rambling !!!

Hey Lynne... I guess I captured a little part of his soul ? In some cultures cameras and photos are feared as they may take away someone's heart I guess... wow, that may be about the first time someone actually said they'd be willing to pay for a photo... you can make your check for .25 cents payable to Mr Toad of Toad Hall ! LOL !

Joo, many thanks, hope you can get to Lebanon someday if you wish too, it is a fabulously beautiful country, especially the mountains...

Waterkits, well, you can always blog from on the road, more and more camping grounds have wifi, as well as the better motels out there... but then who would take care of your horses ?

Salut Nathalie, well, I hope you can get there one day, if you so desire, with your former student if possible, it does help to have local guidance and support, we were wonderfully received by my sister-in-law's family there, they took unbelievably good care of us.
And no, I don't know what you mean, there is a maybe a bit of naked rocker in that photo, but no naked lady that I can see, just the beautiful beach views typical of the Canary Islands ! :-D

Steve, definitely gives real meaning to the term "breadwinner", not an easy row to hoe as it were, I feel very fortunate when seeing how hard some folks have to work to survive. Loved your dual post there, will be by this weekend to catch up...

Desi, there were alot of creepy looking cars around Lebanon, during 20 years of civil war, lots of cars got all shot up, this one didn't look too bad in comparison to some... would love to go back there again, I felt like I barely scratched the surface...

James, vicarious traveling is also a pleasure... as we can't go everywhere... there are SO many places I'd love to go still, and no idea if I ever will... well, maybe if I hit the lottery some day, or if a few million people like mentioned above start paying me 25 cents a photo... (yeah, right, keep dreaming owen !)

Owen said...

Hey David, you slipped in while I was busy typing away answering folks... yeah, Lebanon, and Beirut in particular got alot of very horrifying press over the years, the hostages and Marine barracks bombing and too many other terrifying incidents to name really cast a pall over the place. I too probably would never have gotten there were it not for my wife's sister who got married there. And even for her marriage I hesitated strongly because there had been such horrendous events there even in 2006, just one year before. But finally we decided to go, and I'm glad I did, it was an eye opener and excellent time. And we only decided to go from there into Syria once we started talking to people in Beirut, and realized it was reasonably safe to do so... and again, really glad I did, because Syria is beautiful too. Will be posting more photos from both Lebanon and Syria in future here, and there are already some in the back posts which can be found in the index list... take care, loved your shots from San Diego... lots of good memories there for me, had a Volkswagen bus and friends in Pacific Beach...

louciao said...

The cheque is in the mail!

Owen said...

Louc... I'll keep an eye out for it !