Friday, August 2, 2013
So. Friday we our big final baheth (research paper) due, after which my class (High Intermediate) filmed our final project, a movie trailer for an Arabic-Language version of High School Musical called “CAMES School Musical”…the short version being that the 16-year in my class, Edy, falls in love with the iconic Lebanese pop star, Ferouz (played by yours truly, oh boy) at their summer Arabic program. Translating “Breaking Free” and “We’re All in this Together” into colloquial Lebanese Arabic and coordinating the singing of them with everyone in our class was pretty fun, although it took awhile. In any case I’ll be sure to post the YouTube link to our final product.
After class I went for a run (it’s soo hot here though eeek!) that ended at the AUB beach, where I went swimming for a couple hours with Edy, Luc and Nik (Edy and Luc are in my class, Nik is in the Advanced class one level above us). Afterwards, Hélin and I went out on a date to a proper restaurant (we’ve been eating a lot of fast food/street food to save money) where we enjoyed a goat cheese salad, steak-frites and delicious Lebanese red wine while we alternated reading chapters aloud of Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian novelist Naguib Mafouz’s masterpiece, Midaq Alley. (This book, one of a number for which the author has been recognized, is excellent so far and Hélin and I often read it aloud before bed.)
Nik met up with us at the restaurant and together we all headed to Mar Mikael, a formerly-industrial/not-quite-gentrified-yet district on the far eastern side of north Beirut that has recently become a new hotspot of the city’s already-renowned nightlife.
Dozens of people from our program was there, as well as hundreds of other Lebanese and international young people pouring into the streets from the bars, enjoying the 3000-livre Al Maza (the #1 Lebanese beer, literally meaning diamond in Arabic, 3000 livres/pounds being about $2) dancing, and generally making merry. We danced until 4am, as one might expect from such a crowd of jovial 20-somethings, in charming disregard for the fact that many of us were planning to wake up at about 8:30am to travel the next morning (Saturday).
Three students from the Advanced Class, Kevin, Caroline and Jess, were going on a day trip to Baalbek (called Heliopolis under the Roman Empire), the capital of the Hezbollah-controlled Beqaa Valley. It’s supposed to be the city in Lebanon where western tourists are most likely to be kidnapped, but at the same time, it is the site of some of the oldest, best preserved, and generally most impressive Roman ruins in the world, so hey, you do what you can. [Baalbek is about 50 miles northeast of Beirut and 50 miles north of Damascus (even further east).]
As for me, I was planning to leave at about 10am Saturday morning with Nik, Greg (in the Advanced class with Nik) and Matt (in the Superior level) to head to the northern Lebanon city of Tripoli for the day, which we gathered from Lebanese friends (as well as other CAMES students who visited it last weekend) to be tense but reasonably safe to visit.
Tripoli was sweet – i’ll post separately about that later. Generally had a phenomenal weekend though, and we started it off just as well as we ended it.