Here's (probably) my LAST POST before returning to the States. It was fitting that yesterday was an INCREDIBLE day in Beirut. It started with turning in an awesome final portfolio, and checking my final grades: A in الفصحى , or modern standard Arabic, and A+ in عامية, or Lebanese dialect. Just thought I should brag, because I did absolutely work the bum off here to learn and do well. After taking a deep breath and finishing my last course, I walked down to LAU's lower gate, where I climbed into a black Cadillac with tinted windows and drove to a fancy Lebanese restaurant for more lunch than I could handle. Okay, background story. Dr. Nancy Jabbra, Chair of the Women's Studies Department at Loyola Marymount, is the wife of Dr. Joseph Jabbra, President of Lebanese American University, where, you guessed it, I have been studying for the past six weeks. She was the one who alerted me to the existence of a "fantastic program" called SINARC, so she's technically the reason I am here. Every summer she flies to Beirut and receives queen treatment, as the president's wife. So knowing her, and being "her girl in Beirut," I got the perks on my last Thursday. I thought we'd take a sleezy service (public taxi) ride to a diner. Nope. The Cadillac was driven by two 6'3'' Lebanese bodyguards with baldheads and sunglasses. They escorted us everywhere, and she paid for everything, making sure to smile manically when I took any bite. "I am a true Lebanese; I like to see Americans eat our food," she said. She's totally Caucasian, but it was a complete princess lunch. Next, I met my الفصحى professor, Maha Demashkie, at LAU's upper gate. She walked me to her 6th floor Beirut apartment, where my 25 classmates and I treated ourselves to lounging amid plush yellow sofas, chandeliers, ice cream (booza!), lemonade, and Arabic dancing. I had a fantastic time winding down the six weeks with my peers, and I am not exaggerating when I say my professor is made of sugar. She is forty-six with two married sons, but looks like a thirty-year-old beauty queen. She is patient, goofy, motivated, and has an incredible heart. I can never repay her help and generosity. Shkran Kteer ya Ustethe! (Thank you so much, professor)
Six or seven of us took a slow walk back to the other side of West Beirut, where I returned to my apartment, brushed my hair, and hurried downstairs again, to pile into a service to Gemayzeh, the affluent night-club street in Beirut.
At Glass Cafe, Gemazyeh, I had a night that made me never want to leave Lebanon. 20 of my Sinarkies sat at a long rectangular table right in front of a drum and an aoud player, who entertained us for four hours straight with Arabic music, from Fairouz to Mabrouk (you'll have to check out the videos on facebook to know what I'm talking about).
Oh, but that's just a portion.
We all danced. Before a full room of joyful, smoking Lebanese, the American tourists danced to the trills and cries of the aoud. I had more fun than I had ever had in Lebanon, and perhaps in Spain, and perhaps in the USA. NO JOKE. In the meantime our table was full of--yeah, see above--fatoosh, kibbeh, hommos, babaganoosh, khubz arabiye, khudra (vegetables)--a bunch of things I hadn't the stomach to be able to eat because of my face-stuffing day, but ate anyway, because it was my last party night in Lebanon.
Friday (the day of this blog post), I woke up early to sulk to class one more time, sad I had finally fallen in love with Lebanon and was set to leave. It's always the music and dance that does it. Now, I'm off to do some last minute shopping, pack, read about tomorrow's destination (LONDON), and sleep as much as possible before my 4:00am flight to Heathrow. Which is Heather + ow. So this is bound to be a great final weekend.
Then--you guessed it--Monday 6:45pm I return to a little ole place called
You know, I think I've done it good.