A Travellerspoint blog

give me a missed call

sunny 37 °C

cell phones are also used differently here. most people in the states will sign a contract with a major provider and get a certain number of minutes and texts a month. not many have prepaid phones. But here, that is basically all there is. everyone has a phone and needs to recharge their phone with a certain number of "units". So their call time is limited.

Now stateside, a call takes minutes for both parties, the caller and receiver. Here, though, only the person calling gets charged. If someone calls you on your cell, you can talk for 1 billion minutes and not get charged. So a popular thing to do to save minutes is called 'missed call'. This is simply calling long enough so the phone rings, but not long enough for them to pick up. This allows you to get their attention and not waste minutes.

For example, my cousin is coming to pick us up to go have lunch. And instead of honking or calling or getting up, she is just going to give me a missed call. She will call and then hang up. And with that I know that she is here and we can go down.

Also, if you know someone else has more minutes or if you are just stingy, you can send a missed call and have them call you back. With that, they would use their minutes and not yours. It's kinda weird and I dont fully understand. I will call someone and they hang up on me, so i call back only to find out that they hung up so I wouldn't have to use my minutes. Oh well, I will get it one day, and then we will be back in the states, so it wont matter.

One more story that has nothing to do with cell phones. Yesterday we were on the road to Damascus! Isn't that cool? Granted it was the road from Beirut to Damascus, not Jerusalem to Damascus, like Paul, but it was still cool. :) Of course, the street was not named, because there are no street names in Lebanon. Direction are given purely by landmarks. 'Go to the store and turn left then drive about 15 meters and there will be an oak tree on your right take a left there too, and after the 6th house you will take a right and drive until you reach George's bakery.' No street names and curvy mountain roads makes it easy to get lost, so if you are in Lebanon be careful. Or better yet get a taxi. :)

serge

Posted by serj n syn 03:19 Archived in Lebanon Comments (0)

Maids or servants?

Ok, so we all learned in US history that during the times of slaves there was another form of service being provided to wealthy New Englanders: Indentured Servants. These we people from the "old world" who wanted a new life but couldn't afford it. So they would sign contracts to work as servants for a set period of time and afterward they would be set free. At least that is what I learned, if that is incorrect... oh well.

Well, a very similar thing is sweeping the nation of Lebanon. It isn't that new, though, it has been going on for quite some time. The women of Lebanon (especially the well off) are hiring full-time maids/nannies. I like to call them indentured servants, because they dont really have too many freedoms or rights. They work by cleaning the house, making food, and/or taking care of the children. Some women have more than one but most stick with a single servant.

These women come from a few countries around the world, but I will not mention it here. They work for almost nothing in order to try and support their families back home or to go to school. In addition to their 'wages' they are given a closet for a room and a minimum number of garments to wear. They are treated like crap. And I feel bad everytime that I am at someones house and they come to serve me by filling my glass with water or picking up my dirty plates. It is wierd and I don't know how to act toward/around them.

There many stories of women who treat their slaves..i mean servants well. They would give them a few days off in the month and they don't always make them do all the work. But the outcome seems to be the same. The servants take advantage of their masters and stop working. They begin to tell their masters what to do and they only do as they please. With these stories I don't know how to act toward them. Since they don't work for me, I treat them with respect and much gratitude. And since I am not looking into buying...hiring a servant anytime soon, I will not worry about how to order them around.

One last story: Our cousin who just moved back to Lebanon was at the mall and was taking her 1 year old son to play at the mall. When she got in all she saw was servants with the kids. She looked around and did not see any Lebanese women with their children (they were all shopping). One of the mom's finally came back and yelled at the servant because her child had snot coming down his nose. The servant quickly took out a tissue and cleaned it. While she was cleaning it the mom was disgusted by her own kids germs...Then my cousin was told by another mom that it her son was too attached to her. Um wait, is he not supposed to be attached to his mother???

Posted by serj n syn 01:42 Archived in Lebanon Comments (0)

Byblos & Baalback

sunny 41 °C

We saw two of the most historic sights in Lebanon these last 3 days.

First we went to Byblos which is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. It was beyond amazing to see the buildings there, everything has been kept the way it used to be and it is beautiful.

We went inside of the historic city walls. On the inside there are 7 churches, one of which I fell in love with. There are three alters in that church (I took a picture of each) which was done because they could only take the Eucharist once a day and they wanted to have 3 masses. Walking into the church and seeing the huge arches I was humbled, it was so beautiful.

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There is also a shopping area which has been preserved. All the shops are cute little hole in the wall type places. They also took a section and turned it into mini bars. It is nice because you can sit outside in a major historic site with your friends and have a drink.

Then we made it to the fort. It was so crazy to see something so big and be able to touch it and go inside of it. The pictures do not do justices. I took a video to try and give you a glimpse on what we were seeing. I still do not think it shows how beautiful it was. There is an area that is being used for concerts now. And also a section that shows the layers of Byblos, like all the times it has been built over. The house that you see is a model home of all the houses of that time. There were several but they decided to get rid of the rest but keep one as a memory.

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We sat down to have some ice cream at a restaurant. As we were sitting the lights went out and life went on as normal. I was altered a bit and Serge tried to act like it was normal, but I knew he was taken by it. I thought we would have gotten used to it, but nope...

We went to Baalbak on Wed. WOW does not even begin to describe it. Greece was great to be in, but we weren't able to really interact with the temple. In Baalbak we walked all over history. In Baalbak there are 3 main temples for the gods of Jupiter, Venus and Dionysus. It was surreal to walk around and see the magnitude of the temples. We got up to where the gods used to be and made ourselves idols...it was weird, probably unbiblical, but fun. We came down because it was too much responsibility.

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Every section we went to we were overwhelmed by the ginorminosity of each structure. The columns were so big it was hard to imagine someone built that without machines. The intricate images one each structure was amazing as well. We could not get over the fact that people hand made them. There was a structure of a lion that was made where water would come out of its mouth. These were place on top of the towers. Most of the have fallen already so we were able to get pictures up close to them.

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There was also an area where concerts were being done. There was going to be one that day so everything was set up. The most famous people are asked to have shows in Baalbak. Because of the lack of security in Lebanon we were able to walk right on the stage and take pictures, hehe...

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While we were exploring we started to hear thunder, which is extremely unusual for Lebanon at this time. The a few drops started to come down along with a mini dust storm. It made things a little harder so we were not able to go into the museum, but it's ok we saw a lot of amazing things.

I never imagined Lebanon had so many beautiful things. These two places have so far been my favorite places. I think they are even my favorite places I've ever been to.

Posted by serj n syn 01:09 Archived in Lebanon Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Random Thoughts

sunny 38 °C

It's been a while since I have written something. I guess I am trying to avoid the computer as much as possible since I am on vacation. I don't want to be too attached, you know?

Well it has been about 2 weeks since we have been here. I am enjoying myself a lot. There is always something to do and something new to see and experience. But I have to admit, I really miss America. I miss my bed, my family, my parents, my routine. It is easy to go away for a week because it doesn't feel too long, but then after two weeks I start to miss things. Maybe week 3 I will start to adapt.

Lebanon is a very interesting country. The electricity is driving me crazy. It goes off most of the time which is so frustrating. I know Serge wrote about it, but seriously it is terrible. There is a lot of political aspects that go into this that would surprise you. However, it is another area I am not going to write about here to avoid hurting people. If you are interested we can talk about it when I get back...

I am enjoying spending time with my family. Especially my grandpa. He is such an interesting guy with so much experience. Since we don't go to Lebanon that often I have not been able to learn from him as much as I would like. So I am spending as much time as I can with him to learn from him. One of my uncles is the same. He is very calm, wise, and well-ready in the Bible. It is wonderful to be able to have those kinds of people in the family.

This weekend we went to our home village, Mazmoora. It is a village of 300 people!!! hehe... I love it. Everyone there is a relative. No matter who we met there was some connection. The majority have the last name Rouhana. It was great. There was a party that we went to sat. night to support the church. It was great, we had a good time. But of course the electricity went out for about 10 min and then came back.

We got to sleep in a house that is around 100 years old. It is nice because the way it was built keeps the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. We slept there without A/C and did not feel hot.

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The ice cream here is amazing!!!! I cannot even explain how good it is. In the states fruit flavored ice cream tastes like ice, but here the flavor is so strong. I love it!!!!

Lebanon has the potential to be one of the most amazing countries in the world. It is sad that it is not being taken care of. There are so many small things that need to be changed in order to improve the conditions.

We will be going to Zahle tomorrow and spending 3 days there. Everyone says it is a beautiful place to see. We will write about it when we get back.

I have been uploading the pics as often as I can. But because the connection is slow I can't add caption to explain what we are doing. When I get back to the states, or if the connection gets better, I will explain the pictures.

Hope you are doing good, wherever you are...

Cynthia

Posted by serj n syn 02:26 Archived in Lebanon Comments (0)

no sweet tea!?!?!

the food of lebanon

sunny 38 °C

ok, i was raised lebanese. so i naturally eat more than necessary, or so i thought. i have told a few people that when a lebanese person is putting food in your plate, tell them it is enough before they start. because they will always put two more scoops in your plate (especially if your a dude). this was proven true with my aunt who was putting some tabouli in my plate and said "is that enough?" after i said yes, she proceeded to put two more spoonfuls into plates without flinching. eating in lebanon is a prediction game. You have to know how much you want, then take away two servings and tell them to stop at that amount. it keeps things interesting.

now as for drinks, i am a poor college student, as most of the readers of this blog are. and i also am a fairly healthy guy, when it comes to drinking. so my drink of choice in the states is water. well, in lebanon tap water is not too safe to drink (especially for foreigners) so everything is bottled water. the option for tap in a restaurant isnt even available. now, as we all know bottled water isn't free, so there goes one reason for choosing that as a drink option. so i start to think about what else i could drink, since i am going to have to pay for it either way, right? well, soda in general upsets my stomach. so all soda is out the window. even though every one here is in love with a drink called 'miranda'. it is simply put, orange soda. my sis says it tastes better than in the states, but i haven't tried it so i cant say. every time they drink it, though, i say i want to try it, but my stomach protests so i dont. the other option is alcohol. i dont have a problem with alcohol. there is no reason to say that someone shouldn't drink, its not biblical so i dont support it. if you know me, though, i hate the taste of all alcohol. even alcohol flavored chocolate is nasty to me. girly drinks with only a little alcohol i cant stand either. so, in short, alcohol is not the choice for me. so i stick with bottled water, even though the nation of lebanon and everyone in it frowns at me every time i do. (sweet tea doesn't exist this far away from the dirty south)

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ok, americans do not know how to entertain guests like the lebanese. in fact in lebanon having guests is a lot of work, especially for ladies. when the person sits down in one of your living rooms (because there are 2-3 of them) you begin. First comes some cookies or small pastries. Then turkish coffee for all who drink it. Then some fruit juice for those who don't drink coffee. Then fruit. Of course the fruit is fresh because everyone in lebanon has a garden in their backyard. or they know someone who does. so fruit. then you have probably been there for about 2 hours by this point and it is time for some sort of meal. so they invite you to sit and eat. if you accept you will need to read the first paragraph of this post to know how to not eat too much. Odds are you will do this two to three times a day, so pace yourself. :)

that is just a tid bit about food in lebanon. if you have questions, please ask! :)

serge

Posted by serj n syn 01:12 Archived in Lebanon Tagged food Comments (0)

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