That huge tree which grows out of the ‘autostrade’ heading out of town, its roots pushing up the tarmac in the slow lane. Yes, the Lebanon has lost a lot of green and quite a few cedars, but this one old tree (a plane I think) is willing to take on the motorway. It’s so big you can actually see it on Google maps satellite view.
How people are so enterprising and imaginative whatever their circumstances. I love that people display their goods on the roof of their car and that the parking attendant uses a plastic water bottle as a lampshade.
Stairs. The narrow stairways linking winding streets, the stairways to nowhere, the outside stairways of three-storey family homes, the stairs that are no longer there.
How people are so down-to-earth. It’s great to hear people say what they think.
That people dress up. Am I being contradictory? I just love that the Lebanese dress up for events – even the down-to-earth ones.
Wondering about the lives of houses which have been rent apart and exposed by rockets, by weeds and neglect, or by modern construction, so that the kitchen tiles now plaster the outside wall and the stairway is just a two-dimensional paint mark climbing the bricks.
Fruits in season – any and all.
The way people go out of their way for you – far, far out of their way.
Being able to spend three quarters of the year outside – on the balcony, on terraces, in the mountains, by the sea, in the valleys…
That people adore children. It still surprises me when 20-year old male waiters coming running over begging to hold my baby, and it’s always a bit weird when they walk off with her to introduce her to the rest of the staff, but it’s wonderful not to feel the weight of frowns all round when you enter a café.