My recent visit to Lebanon -By: Suzanne Marea Packer

Suzanne Marea Packer (New Zealand-Australian writer) -June 26th, 2016

My recent trip, to Lebanon, to say the least was amazing.

I spent 4 weeks on the road literally – from the north mountains to Nabateyeh in the south and the Mediterranean coast to the Bekaa valley – I never left a stone unturned.

Despite the fact there is still no official government and a lack of rules and regulations, Lebanon oozes life and an energy that is indescribable.

Education is at the fore front and up and running, amenities such as gas, electricity and water were continuously available and there is every type of food available from local produce to imported products and not an empty restaurant to be found.

I caught up with everyone in Lebanon I needed to and met many new interesting persons from many walks of life.

Thanks to the members of the City Council of Dhour Eshwier, I launched my book of poetry about Lebanon “From the Outside Looking in” at their library and managed to do quite a few interviews whilst in Lebanon.

The local council elections went smoothly and I pray these new councillors will project their voices and energy to make changes for the good of their communities especially the issues of re-cycling and rubbish collections. It appears there are many speaking out on these issues and not many doing anything about it. From the hills, looking down on Beirut, there is sadly an enormous black cloud of pollution that desperately needs addressing.

Food – I was in heaven! Everyone is eating white cheeses and Khobz asaj – yummy. My friends still make their own jams, molasses, arak, zaatar, sumac and all the pickles you can imagine. I truly enjoyed myself working with them in their kitchens and am now an expert at making jibne baladiyeh.

I shopped in the old souk of Tripoli and always enjoy the hustle bustle of the narrow streets and bargain hunting for shoes and handbags. Then of course there is my favourite Arax Street in Bourj Hammoud  - amidst all the Armenian jewellers and their unique craftsmanship. Yummy Arax Falafel cannot be passed up when in Bourj Hammoud nor jibne bkanafeh from Ruhman Hallabi Sweets in Tripoli.

The weather was glorious with just a couple of really hot days that were infiltrated with dust as there is a lot of road construction work happening and despite the financial woes, apartment buildings are flourishing country-wide!

So at the end of the day only one thing bothered me, as it always does and that’s the bloody traffic jams that are so time consuming and I’m left wondering why they can’t build more overhead bridges especially from the Casino to the Dowra.

My spirit is calling me to go back and I plan to return to complete my second book of poetry dedicated to Lebanon.

*Read more about Suzanne Marea Packer here:

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