American Mom in Lebanon


Why is it that Lebanon only knows how to promote Itself through scandal? | A Fun Filled Day with Family and Friends – Sharewood Camp | Mountain Climbing and Abseiling with Adventures in Lebanon | Living in Uncertainty in a Country I Love | Can a Physician Feel Safe Practicing Medicine in Lebanon? | A weekend in the Bekaa Valley | Stuck on a Mountain in Lebanon |Skiing in Lebanon | Thanksgiving in Lebanon|Driving in Beirut

Why is it that Lebanon only knows how to promote Itself through scandal?

I have decided to weigh in on the Jackie Chamoun controversy. Personally I have no problem with a man or women posing nude, as long as it is done with a healthy respect for the person and the human body. As this controversy goes viral and attention is turned to Lebanon and her Olympians there are a couple of things that I must take issue with... Why doesn’t Lebanon know how to positively promote itself? Instead of using positive self-promotion Lebanon seems to always fall on scandal to bring attention to this country. Instead of promoting our athletes the local news media and the Youth and Sports Ministry criticizes them for actions they took 3 years ago. Why not, Instead of pulling our athletes into a public scandal couldn’t theses atheletes instead be promoted with a positive message of support? It is disgraceful. These athletes could be a source of patriotic pride for Lebanon.

The other issue I have with the Lebanese participation in the Olympics is the lack of financial support for our athletes. In an article from Aljazeera it is pointed out that, "She (Jackie Chamoun) overcame the challenges of training during Lebanon's short ski season, paying for her own competitions and equipment." You know If you want these young athletes to be accountable to Lebanon then Lebanon should be doing its best to help defer the cost of training for the Olympics. I think it is a disgrace that Lebanese athletes pay out of pocket for all of their training, travel, and athletic needs. From their gear to their coaches it falls to the athlete and their family to pay for the cost of competing. How many more talented athletes are being overlooked because they lack the financial resources to pay for their training and travel. Where are the sponsors? If it weren’t for the Jackie controversy no one would even know that Lebanon is being represented in the Olympics. And that is a shame. The Olympics are an opportunity for a country to show some national pride, to rally around its athletes and to say to the world we matter. Lebanon stand up, support your athletes and show some pride!

A Fun Filled Day with Family and Friends – Sharewood Camp

Last weekend we had a great outing with our family, children and friends at a place called Sharewood Camp. It is an outdoor nature entertainment center. It was loads of fun! The camp provides children and adults the opportunity to experience outdoor adventure. You can rock climb, repel, zip line and rope swing until your heart is content. They provide equipment and an experience staff to help you enjoy a day of outdoor fun. Even my 2 year old was able to participate. They also have a lovely outdoor restaurant, which served a decent meal. And if you want to stay overnight you can sleep in one of their tents. I have to say I really enjoyed our day there and highly recommend it.

Sharewood Camp is located near Broumana in the North Metn area.

Mountain Climbing and Abseiling with Adventures in Lebanon

Lebanon is stressful. Between the Syrian war and Israeli incursions, strife in the streets of Verdun and Hamra, the traffic and day-to-day life of living in a big city, life feels a bit out of control. I am doing what I can do to voice my opposition to the Syrian war and to keeping my children safe as they play and attend summer camp. It can feel that it isn’t enough and I can’t stand feeling out of control of my environment … So to blow off some steam and deal with the stress, I am pursuing the passions I love. Being outdoors, climbing and hiking in the mountains of Lebanon.

This past Sunday I went mountain climbing & abseiling with Adventures in Lebanon. Adventures in Lebanon is a tour group that specializes in outdoor adventures.

The tour group took us by bus from Beirut to Balou3 Bal3a in Tannourine. Bal3a is known for a 250-meter natural sinkhole carved out by water. A natural bridge spans across the sinkhole in front of the waterfall. It is a beautiful place. Truly awe inspiring. The tour group provides transportation, lunch and basic equipment for $45.00. I think a real bargain for a day of fun outside, in clean air and no News. There were about 20 people who joined in the adventure. I left my husband and children back in Beirut to fend for themselves for the day and went on my adventure alone.

The roads up to the area are decent for Lebanese standards. It took us about 2 hours to reach our destination. When we arrived we had a choice to pursue repelling and rock climbing. I chose to do the repelling first. I should confess I am terrified of repelling. However, I believe if you have an opportunity to face a fear you should and with all the bravery you can muster. There were about 7 of us in the first group. I watched as each took their turn, lowering themselves over a cliff into an abyss. I had no idea what the descent looked like. When I peeked over the edge I could not see what was down there. So, after I had confirmed that no one had plunged to their death. I clipped my harness on to the rope and … well I froze. I could not make a single muscle move. I was terrified and I began to shake, a lot. Understand, this does not embarrass me, but I was surprised just how physical fear can become. My hands shook, my heart raced; there was a whooshing sound in my ears. I had a death grip on the rope and there was no way I was repelling myself over that cliff. At this point the guide suggested I pull my hair up so it doesn't get caught in the rope. Which brought attention to the fact that I didn’t have a safety helmet on. So I climbed back up the 2 steps I had taken and asked for a helmet. The helmets were all below and had to be brought up by one of the other climbers. Honestly, I was relived … With very shaky hands I unclipped my harness from the rope and as far from the edge as I could I sat down on a rock. A very safe and sturdy rock. The guide through all of this was understanding, patient and encouraging. He did not make me feel uncomfortable about my fear. Slowly I calmed myself down and waited for a helmet. One of the guys who had all ready repelled down, climbed back up the trail with a very red helmet in his hand. He gave it to me and I put it on. However, my nerves were still giving me hell and my hands were still shaking. Finally, after several deeps breaths and several adjustments to the helmets straps I was ready to try again. Again confirming no one had plunged to their deaths I clipped back into the rope and very slowly began to carefully step my way over the lip of the cliff and down the face of the rock. It was terrifying and exhilarating. After clearing the lip of the cliff I began lowering myself down with the rope. My feet planted firmly on the face of the stone. Then the next thing I know I am spinning in mid-air. All I could think was holy crap, where did the rock go?? What I did not know was the face of the cliff doesn’t go all the way to the canyon floor. Half way through the descent it drops away! Honestly, if I had know that in the beginning I don’t think I would have gone in the first place… Once I figured out what had happened I took a deep breath and began, very gently, lowering myself to the ground. With my feet firmly planted on the ground I looked up. It was a long way up. All I could think of was holy !@#$! I unclipped myself from the rope and took a look around. Balou3 Bal3a is amazing. I cannot begin to describe how beautiful it is. I have posted some photos taken that day by Adventures in Lebanon.

After I assessed that I was really alive I decided to give it a go one more time. Crazy I know, but I had to prove to myself I could do it again. So I climbed the trail back up to the top and repelled down. I was still shaky, but was able to enjoy it much more.

2 attempts are enough for one day; so I walked over to the rock climbing route and watched some of the group attempt to climb the rock face. The guides did not mark out an easy route. When my turn came I was only able to go about half way and realized I was exhausted and out of shape. I lowered down and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon hiking about and talking with other visitors. The group was developing a comfortable comradely. The young people I met were really enjoyable to be around. I was really proud of all of them. Most had never attempted something like this and they all succeeded at their comfort level. It was a truly enjoyable afternoon. Next time I will bring my daughter with me, however I think the area is too dangerous for my 2-year-old son.

The ride back to Beirut was long, the traffic was bad and when we entered Byblos a car had overturned on the highway. It was a bad accident. A somber way to end the day and an all too familiar sight here on the highways of Lebanon. It was a stark reminder that Lebanon is stressful and you have to have an outlet to deal with the day-to-day stress.

Living in Uncertainty in a Country I Love

I had hoped the few years we live in Lebanon would be peaceful ones. At the least I expected us to have 2 – 3 years before we would be forced to leave due to war and violence. I still hope we might have those years to enjoy Lebanon, spend time with our family and travel the Middle East. Unfortunately, Syria’s civil war is spilling in to Lebanon and unless Syria’s war comes to a close soon things in Lebanon will only deteriorate. Added to this are the expected actions of Israel against Iran this summer. When Israel bombs Iran, Hezbollah will retaliate and launch an assault on Israel. I truly hope this does not happen. If it does Lebanon will see a repeat of the war of 2006. There were so many civilian casualties and damage done.

So why do we stay? We are optimist and both my husband and I believe we can contribute something vital to Lebanon. Ziad’s work in Psychiatry will benefit so many people and hopefully contribute to the well being of Lebanon. For my children exposing them to their Father’s homeland, spending time with their aunts, uncles and cousins is invaluable. They will both know a part of their family they would have never known in the US. The love we have for our family and the love they have for us is immeasurable. Well worth the risk? I believe so. But the day to day stress of wondering what might come… It does wear you down. I worry for the people I love. I worry for Lebanon.

Can a Physician Feel Safe Practicing Medicine in Lebanon?

At this point the short answer is no.

Recently a doctor was arrested after his patient died. He had spent 16 hours treating her and when he went home to take some rest she died. The family then demanded that the physician be arrested for wrongful death and negligence. The 7 month pregnant patient died of an Amniotic Fluid Embolism. And yes the physician did inform her and her family it was a risk … A condition that is usually fatal regardless of treatment. The doctor was arrested without due process, before an autopsy was performed and against the The Order of Physicians stated policies when investigating negligence or malpractice.

It is a tragic case and I feel for the family. I know their grief is immense. I know what it means to loose someone you love. However, their actions and that of the Lebanese media undermined the safety and security of all doctors who practice in Lebanon. A doctor makes life and death decisions everyday. They are responsible for the health and safety of the citizens of Lebanon. But if each time a doctor makes a decision they have to worry about possible arrest, they will not be able to do their job. It will undermine every decision they make. The public health interest will not be served.

Physicians are not gods, they are humans. Humans tasked with a great responsibility. And yes if there is wrong-doing they must face the consequences. But if the media and the public undermine the process by which a prosecutorial inquiry is made and simply demand the arrest of the doctor without due process the consequences will be faced by all Lebanese. Good physicians will leave. Why should they stay? Recruiting new physicians will become almost impossible. And what will the Lebanese public be left with? Substandard medical care. Lebanon is already a precarious place to live. Don’t make it worse by undermining the processes that are in place to protect us all.

To read more about this story go to Doctors strike over physician’s detention.

A weekend in the Bekaa Valley

As our Spring holiday break wound down we took a trip to the Bekka Valley and did a little sight seeing. Of course, there is always some trepidation as we venture out of Beirut, especially to more remote areas of Lebanon. However, the Bekaa Valley is worth the risk. Thankfully this trip was not as adventurous as our trip to the mountains. We experienced a nice, relaxing enjoyable time. The valley provided stunning scenery with plenty of activities to choose from.

The Bekaa Valley is located in the east of Lebanon near the Syrian border. It takes about 1.5 hours to drive there from Beirut, depending on traffic. It is a lush green valley surrounded by beautiful mountains. The road through the Bekka is called the Road to Damascus and the majority of it is in pretty good shape and provides some decent driving. However, there are portions that are under construction that makes me wish we had a rugged SUV.

My husband made reservations for us at the Chtaura Park Hotel. The town of Chtaura is not much to look at and is literally a road stop on the way to Syria. However, within the town of Chtaura there are two very nice hotels worth enduring the eyesore of the town itself. The Massabki Hotel and Chtaura Park Hotel are perfectly situated for venturing out to the Bakka Valley.

The Chtaura Park Hotel is a large beautiful old hotel that was restored after a devastating fire in 2004. The interior lobby is nicely decorated with dark wood walls, marble floors and large crystal chandeliers. Our room was very comfortable and the hotel provided an extra bed and a crib for our children. I found the staff professional and welcoming. I would highly recommend staying here if you are planning to visit the area.

We arrived Friday afternoon and quickly set out to explore the wine country of the Bekka. We choose a vineyard called Chateau Kefraya. Which is about 15 KM from the hotel. The drive into the valley is gorgeous. Snow capped mountain peaks, green grasses, colorful wildflowers, sheep, shepherds and goats! It provides a nice break from the concrete jungle of Beirut.

Chateau Kefraya is great for kids! They have an enjoyable mezza for lunch and green spaces for the children to play in. After lunch we took the tractor ride through the grape vineyards and visited a roman burial sight recently discovered on the property. My son loves tractors. He was in heaven. My daughter enjoyed exploring the Roman grottos. Afterward we drove back to Chtaura and stopped by the Massabki Hotel to visit with ducks and 2 beautiful swans. My children were excited and enjoyed feeding them. It was a wonderful afternoon, we returned to the hotel for a light dinner and then to bed.

On Saturday we meet with my husband’s family for lunch near Lake Qaraoun. We ate at an outdoor Lebanese restaurant. The setting, the company, and the food were prefect. There was a beautiful breeze, loads of wildflowers and a babbling brook. Afterwards we drove down to the lake and the family took a boat ride to the dam. I stayed on shore and enjoyed the peaceful scenery.

When we arrived back to the hotel my daughter decided to crash the wedding taking place that evening. Understand we have no idea who the people getting married are, but everyone seemed to enjoy the curious little American girl gawking at all the merriment. It was worth crashing! A wedding in Lebanon is a whole different affair then what I am use to in the US. There is a large wedding industry in Lebanon. They take it seriously. There are acrobats, musicians, and special greeters, a large sit down dinner with music entertainment. The guests look like they have stepped off the cover of vogue. Everyone is dressed to the nines. The bride of course was beautiful. To introduce the bride there is an entourage of performers. The bride is hoisted up on, in this case a large seat shaped like a star, and carried in the ballroom with musical fanfare. Large sparkler fireworks are set off with en explosion of music. Really, really it is something you have to see for yourself. After my daughter had settled her curiosity with the wedding she went and explored the karaoke bar in the hotel. She gave several renditions of Frère Jacques before I finally sent her to bed.

The next morning, though blurry eyed from the festivities the night before, we set out to explore the Taanayel Farms. Taanayel farms is run by Jesuit monks and has a nice size working farm with cows, horses, goats and a lovely peacock. You can rent bikes and ride on the many trails on the property. We didn’t stay long, just long enough to enjoy the animals, buy some of their homemade produce and eat a delicious lebneh sandwich. This is on my list of places to go back to and explorer more. The children really enjoyed it!

After our visit to the farm we headed back to Beirut to join our family for an Easter brunch. It was a beautiful weekend; one I hope we will be able to repeat soon.

Stuck on a Mountain in Lebanon

I have been waiting 3 weeks to go back up and ski at the Mzaar Kfardebian ski resort near Faraya. I really enjoy these trips with the children and I have been looking forward to spending some quality time with my husband. So, we loaded up the car around 3:00pm on Friday, thinking we would beat the traffic and arrive before a predicted snowstorm. The snowstorm was only expected to bring a couple of inches of snow, but was really nothing to worry about. I was very excited about the snow conditions, perfect for great skiing.

Well we almost made it up the mountain …

We ran into a bit of trouble a few kilometers from our hotel. Our cars forward and upward progress came to a halt. The reliable Audi had stopped dead in its tracks. The road had begun to ice up. We maybe missed our window of opportunity for decent road conditions by a couple of minutes. The wheels found no traction on the ice and snow. They just spun and spun. My husband got out of the car and began pushing it as I steered us off the ice. We had some success and the car began to move up the mountain again. We were on our way! Well for a short time anyway, about a kilometer up the raod we encountered several cars stopped, stuck and sliding on the road. That was it. The Audi once stopped would not gain traction on the road and we were stuck. Things got worse as we tried to move forward; we began sliding backwards down the mountain and came to an abrupt stop in a snow bank! Dreadfully scary! The last thing any mom wants is an out of control car going backwards on a mountain with her children in the backseat! Fortunately, the car stopped and we were not hurt. However, we were stranded. Time was of the essence. The snowstorm was turning out to be much worse then predicted. We had to get to a safe place. I could see the storm out in the distance coming over the mountain range. It looked bad.  We needed help otherwise we were in trouble.

Help here isn’t as evident as in the US. You can’t rely on roadside assistance. There aren’t many snowplows for the roads, they weren’t using salt or sand to melt the ice. Fortunately, for us our cell phones were working and we were able to call the hotel we planned to stay with, Aux Cimes du Mzaar, for help. Unfortunately, the hotel informed us that the roads were now too dangerous to travel and they could not send anyone down to help us. Our car was going nowher, except to continue the very scary slide backwards down the mountain! Luckily a truck stopped to offer assistance. Four men got out and after much conferring and determining the car was, yes indeed stuck offered to put a set of snow chains on the tires.  All of this I found comforting. I didn't feel we were so alone or stranded. However, after the chains were installed on our car the situation went from bad to worse; we lost the ABS system and the breaks. And the weather was getting really bad. The car, with chains, was still sliding backwards and the temperature was dropping quickly and visibility was nada. At one point, with the children and I in the car and one of the men in the drivers seat, the car spun backwards and almost hit my husband, who of course was standing outside. He had to jump into a snowbank to avoid being plowed into by our car.  That was it for me! All I could image was our demise, in a blizzard, on a mountain, in Lebanon! Just about then another truck pulled up to our car. It was the hotel owner, a hero in my mind! He and my husband quickly loaded our bags and the children into his SUV and we abandoned the Audi on a random curve and headed up the mountain. I was feeling relieved and very thankful, until we got into the ski village.

In the village the roads were blocked by several stuck cars, loads of snow, and a snowplow. By this time the weather had gotten pretty bad, lots of snow, crazy wind and of all things lightening! The hotel owner pulled the SUV into a parking lot and we waited for the cars to be cleared. The snow just kept piling up and the visibility was at its worse. I had no idea how they intended to clear the road until a huge, mean looking snowplow appeared. Gigantic with large chains on its tires, grinding gears in the front and big pinchers. This menacing snowplow approached a Jeep SUV, with it’s occupants still inside, and begun pushing it around in the snow! I have never seen a car moved off the road by a snowplow before, but it is a gruesome sight. The snowplow put down its shovel and pushed the SUV, then used the pinchers to turn the car around. I really thought the car was going to topple over. It came close. I have no idea what kind of damage was done to the Jeep, but I am sure the minimum it will need after that ordeal is some major bodywork. Once the jeep was moved off the road the driver got out and conversed with a couple of other guys and then got back into his Jeep. Like it was normal. He didn't get out and scream bloody murder. He just gave the sense he was happy not be stuck anymore.  There seems to be a pervasive sense of laissez-faire about personal property in Lebanon. I can’t imagine this happening in the US. No matter the snow conditions. Now that the Jeep and several other vehicles had been dramatically moved off the road we followed the snowplow up the last 500 meters to the hotel. We arrived safely, thanks to the very generous and in my mind heroic hotel owner. However, as far as our car is concerned…

The storm is still raging outside and several meters of snow have fallen during the night. We are told it is the worse storm this season, for several seasons. We are waiting it out, we may have to take a snow taxi back to Beirut, our cars fate is still unknown.


Our Mountain Adventure Update:

We spent Saturday and Sunday in the hotel, unable to ski. The storm took its time moving off. The blizzard raged until Sunday mid-morning. Fortunately, the Aux Cimes du Mzaar hotel employs a group of wonderful and accommodating staff. They made us feel very comfortable and at home. I was amazed at how they managed to stay so accommodating and helpful, even though they were as stranded as we were. No one could leave the hotel until late Saturday when there was a break in the storm. Our car was retrieved from the road and parked at the Intercontinental hotel. The road to our hotel was nonexistent until Sunday morning. Many, many cars were buried under the snow. We took the sled out and walked down to the Intercontinental. There were objects encased in the snow, that may have been cars, but it was really hard to tell. Many of the objects, cars or other stuff had deep scrapes from where the snowplow had come by. I really hope it was other stuff.

We met some really nice people while snowbound at the hotel. There was a US family who are posted in Cairo, they have a great blog and I hope you will follow them as well at And I met a strange welch guy who had an affinity for my leopard print snow boot, which he took a bite of (he had a little bit to drink & a lot of cabin fever ;-).

After being cooped up for the weekend we thought to leave Sunday afternoon, but there were several reports of accidents occurring as people tried to leave the mountain. We extended our stay until Monday. And I am so glad we did! The skiing on Monday was fabulous! The sky was clear and the sun so bright. No wind and the temperature was warm enough that we could ski without our ski jackets. My daughter was a speed demon. Skiing down the baby slope like an old pro. I got in a few perfect runs on the Jonction. And my little son got in some very exciting sledding. It so made up for a weekend of worry and disappointment.

After a great day of skiing we loaded up the car and left … Well, we tried to leave but the car was having nothing to do with it. The ABS and break systems were more than simply upset and cold. They are broken. So we left the car on the mountain and took a snow taxi back to Beirut. The car was finally retrieved by tow truck on Friday. It is now at the Audi service center. We are waiting to hear just how bad it is? In the meantime the weather has been great in Beirut and I have enjoyed walking to where ever I need to go.

Skiing in Lebanon

Now that winter has fully arrived my family and I have been heading up to the mountains for some fabulous skiing in Kfardebian Village at the Mazaar resort.  They have 42 slopes of perfect snow this year. I have enjoyed skiing since I was a child; it is my favorite sport.  I love slooshing down the slopes at treacherous speeds. To me it is pure bliss. The added enjoyment is seeing my daughter on her first pair of skis. She is a natural and enjoys "beating" me down the baby slope. We have had the opportunity to stay at two hotels while there, Hotel Eleven and Aux Cimes Du Mzaar. 

Hotel Eleven is a lovely boutique hotel near the Intercontinental hotel. It has eleven rooms and suites, hence its name. We enjoyed it very much, however it is not a ski in/out hotel and I think it is better suited for couples then families with young children. I would recommend passing by their restaurant if you are in the area. They have a beautiful cheese and wine selection, worth the trip.

Aux Cimes Hotel, although not as fancy, is a ski in/out hotel onto the baby slope at the Jonction domain. The rooms are comfortable and the staff very friendly and helpful. They provided an excellent breakfast buffet, which kept us  going all day long. Under the hotel is a ski equipment rental shop.  Making it very easy to pick up your gear. There is a lovely terrace overlooking the ski slopes. It was the perfect place to unwind after a day of skiing. The hotel has only recently opened so there are still some amenities waiting to be completed. Once they have finished and with continued good management this hotel will provide our family with many happy ski weekends. I am really looking forward to staying there in February. 

Skiing in the Middle East presents some cultural contrast. There are men and women skiing and snowboarding in the hottest haute couture fashions and then their are the women dressed in the full Buqua sledding with their children.  Many women were wearing the Hijab (head scarf) while enjoying a day of skiing. Lift lines are like driving in Beirut, chaotic and disorganized, but once you are at the top of the slope the trip down is worth the craziness.  And at the end of a great day of skiing and people watching I enjoyed an aguile (Lebanese water pipe) and a "mommy" drink while sitting on the hotel terrace.  Oh, it felt so decadent and exotic. 

Lebanon has several ski areas to choose from, I hope to be able to try them all while we are here.  See you on the slopes!

Driving in Lebanon

Driving in Lebanon can be harrowing and frustrating! I have learned you can either be super upset about it or accept it and do your best to keep you and your family safe.  I admit it is not for the faint of heart. But I am doing my best to blend in and drive like a native.

Daily crazy driving you encounter on Lebanese Roads, mostly by Taxi Drivers  and sometimes me...

Cars Backing Up on the Highway. They don't even stop they just break and back up!  Scares the hell out of me every time!

Running the Red Light. Every red light will have some yahoo speed through it.  My husband recently yelled at me when I tried to do it.  So, now I wait patiently, well most of the time...

Double and Triple Parking. Not only does it block your car in, but it takes up two lanes of traffic causing a huge traffic jam. I don't do this.

Riding the center of the lane line. The lane lines don't dictate lanes here, they are where you put the center of your car.  I follow the car in front of me, if we use the lane, we use the lane ...

Creating a New Lane of Traffic in On-Coming Traffic. Thus forcing the oncoming traffic to one lane, creating a new traffic jam. Eh, I again follow the car in front of me ...

Taking a Left Turn from the Right Lane. I get cut off at least once a day ...

Taking a Right Turn from the Left Lane. Ditto

Jumping the Traffic Que. Someone will think they are more entitled then the rest of the drivers and pull in to on-coming traffic and cut off the whole line waiting for a light, making a turn, or picking up your child from school. It is infuriating! I don't do this!

Going Down the One-Way the Wrong Way. Many times when you are given directions to someones house they will say, then you come to a one way street, just go up it, my house will be on the left ... and with all of the traffic it is usually the only way you are going to get to their house.

Illegal U-turns! My husband is guilty of this!

So the next time you are sitting in traffic in the US just remember it could be a lot worse.  Oh and did you hear about the traffic jam in China that lasted 10 days!!!  Again, there are worse places ...

Thanksgiving in Lebanon

This is what should have been the first of several positive Thanksgiving holiday post.  However, things never go as planned.  Our family got sick and my son had to go to the hospital for test 2 days in a row.  I am posting this because I had it written before all things went down hill.  However, I do have a very Thankful Thanksgiving story which once written will be posted as a follow-up.  No worries things worked out, we are healing form the flu and bronchitis and I am so, so thankful for our loving and generous family here in Beirut.

Preparing for Thanksgiving in Lebanon

Do Lebanese celebrate Thanksgiving, no not really.  Most people here don’t know what a pilgrim is and why should they?  Thanksgiving is a North American holiday.  But as an American mom I feel keeping our family Thanksgiving tradition is important.  So on Thursday my husband and I have invited over 15 family members to celebrate the pilgrims first meal with the Indians at Plymouth Rock, here in Lebanon.  Mind you I don’t know how to cook a turkey, I am not that great of a cook and large gatherings usually push me over the edge.  But we have been in Lebanon for over 3 months, so why not.

Lebanon has a bounty of amazing fresh fruits and vegetables.  I have truly enjoyed making my favorite dishes for my family here.  The flavors really pop.  But for my Thanksgiving feast, I run into a couple of obstacles: 1)There isn’t a Wholefoods here where I can order a turkey with all the trimmings and 2)the lack of Cranberries and Celery!  I can’t find either.

The celery I have managed to find has been really abysmal and the cranberries, well… When I inquired about cranberries at the local supermarket I was told too early, not in yet.  Again, why should they be, Thanksgiving is an American holiday. Cranberries are a Christmas thing here. When I ran up to Hamra to try my luck at the local fruit and veggie stands I think there was a communication breakdown. 

So my conversation goes, “Aandak Cranberries?” Essentially saying I need cranberries.  I receive a very puzzled stare. And in English they ask back, “what do you need?”  Oh, so much for using what little Arabic I have…  I repeat, “Cranberries.” He then says, “I have cucumbers.  Do you need cucumbers?” “No, I don’t need cucumbers. I need cranberries.  I have strawberries, you need strawberries.”  Again I repeat no.  I then try to describe a cranberry, small, red, round, tart berry. I was then offered grapes. This continues on until I have been shown all of the produce that either sounds like the word cranberry or may look like a cranberry.   It left both of us with very puzzled looks and me realizing my fresh cranberry sauce will not be on the table this Thanksgiving.  No worries, I have an alternative.

In front of the AUB president’s house there is an orchard of bitter oranges growing.  Thanks to the AUB spouse yahoo group and a lively email exchange, I was able to get my hands on a bag full of Lebanese bitter oranges.  So I am going to try my hand at making Orange Marmalade. Its not cranberry relish, but when in Lebanon…   Wish me luck!

Sharewood Camp Adventure

Me climbing at Sharewood Camp
Me age, old enough, on my climb.

Climbing Sharewood Camp

Photos Provided by Adventures in Lebanon

Balou3 Bal3a in Tannourine, Lebanon

Balou3 Bal3a in Tannourine, Lebanon
Me as I descend the second time. All smiles!

Balou3 Bal3a in Tannourine, Lebanon
The view from above!

Balou3 Bal3a in Tannourine, Lebanon

A Few Words of Arabic

Shuu ismak? - What is your name?

Anna - I

Marhaba - Hello

as-salaam 'alaykum - Peace be Upon You

Habibi - My Love

Arabic Numbers
Arabic Numbers

Traveling About Lebanon

American University of Beirut

Skiing - Mzaar Kfardebian near Faraya

Chtaura Park Hotel

Massabki Hotel

Chateau Kefraya