Today I walked a lot in the sun.
It had to have been close to 95 degrees, but it was the humidity that made it exceptionally difficult to exist as a human being outside the shade or air conditioning.
It’s kind of funny because I have been here all summer and I have noticed that it’s been really hot, and usually really sunny, but I’ve dealt with that all before. Minnesota can be this hot, I know, and Minnesota can be this humid. But the difference here is the stamina of this weather. When you wake up it’s sultry, and when you go home around 2 or 3 in the morning, it’s still that temperature. It’s as if the sun has heated everything all day and Beirut is one big terrarium- soaking up all the water in the air and keeping all the heat in a little dome overarching the city. It has been this hot and this humid every day. Not a day has there been significant change in the weather aside from the recent cloudiness whose main value has been in its bringing even more moisture into our world.
Our (Paul, Yusra, and I) cabbie today didn’t really like to wait in traffic, so he took all of the back roads to get us to Solidère (downtown) which took us about twice-3x as long. We took the “service” (pronounce with French accent), which means that he gets to pick up anyone else he can fit in the cab on the way to our destination, but we only have to pay 1,500LL each (about $1). So he picks up this Lebanese student headed for Gemmayzeh and we end up getting to Gemmayzeh, and he tells us to get out (apparently). I say apparently because I think that’s what he meant but I couldn’t tell because I didn’t understand what he was saying. I COULD HAVE understood had he had any teeth, I’m almost positive.
So we ended up walking down- fifteen minutes in the stifling heat- past Hariri’s Mosque to the big clock at Place de L’étoile, where our Arabic professor, Hisham and his very pregnant wife were nice enough to buy us lunch. There, I had the equivalent of garlic mashed potatoes and roasted chicken. It was good. Reminded me of home. His two young sons made the meal interesting/loud as their 14 year old sister looked on with mild embarrassment.
“I’m going to stomp on your building”, one of them said before stomping the ground and punching me on the shoulder.
After lunch, we all walked back over to Gemmayzeh (an ordeal since we got lost once: total time 45 minutes in the late afternoon heat) where we were meeting our friend, the American Cultural Attaché to Lebanon for some drinks at an Irish pub “Molly Malone’s”. The drinks were on Uncle Sam so I got some good Irish beer and partook in some nachos. He and one of his colleagues talked very informally to us four a couple of hours all about the foreign service and the strange test required to get in. What I could gather from it is that it sounds like a great life but a hard one. I’m seriously considering it as a possible career option, although I know it is years ahead of me.
That’s all for me now. I really should get to bed.