Thursday, July 22, 2010

one more from beirut

Justin read my last blog post and wanted to know why I didn't mention the military police we saw. Or the tanks. I had to think about why for a minute. The omission wasn't to spare my parents or in-laws (look where your grandbaby has been!) or to make Beirut seem a safer city than it is. We felt very safe in Hamra, the area we stayed, and in the Downtown, where we walked. Parts of the city are a bit dicey for Westerners - so I've been told - but every city has those streets that you're told to avoid. And not all regions of Lebanon are open or friendly toward Westerners. So as with travel in any new country, we were cautious.

While we were in Lebanon, a friend of mine traveled with her family to Athens. She'd campaigned for a trip to Lebanon, but her husband hesitated, believing it wasn't the safest option. (And really, it probably isn't. The safest option might be Sweden, unless you've been reading Stieg Larsson. But that's just me idealizing those Scandanavian countries). Anyway, they arrived in Greece to riots protesting government taxes, while wanting government aid.

So riots happen. My friend and her family were fine. They loved Athens. I think we'll love it too, when we get there. No enforced sales tax (one catalyst for the riots).

But back to why I didn't say anything about the military police or the random tanks parked off the side of a road. Well, because they didn't register as anything unusual to me. They seemed to belong. Perhaps that says something of how I've changed in the past couple of years, to not blink at a young man in camoflauge holding a gun and gaurding a street in the Downtown.

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