Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 24, 2008
One year and one day ago, Lebanon experienced the chaos of a general strike (which I wrote about from a very small, very housemouse perspective). One year minus one day ago, Lebanon started the day off with clashes in Ain El Hilwah/Taamir and ended it with a curfew.
Today, in a kind of sandwich anniversary commemmoration, Lebanon experienced another disruption: a transport strike.
Naturally, today was the day I had booked a flight to Kuwait for a long weekend with the aunt, uncle, and, of course, their celebrity Qatari Cat.
Wear sneakers in case you have to walk the last part of the way, a colleague advised yesterday. The airport road is often the road of choice for tire burners, and we were speculating about what obstacles I might face on my way there.
And last night I began to wonder whether the biggest obstacle might be finding a cab.
Luckily for me, this morning I noticed that there were a few cabs on the road, and I thought: I can approach this problem strategically. I’ll call cab companies in pro-government neighborhoods – they’re not likely to strike.
But before I could start co-ordinating Lebanese Forces strongholds with cab company call centers, H found me online.
Oh right, H said when I mentioned the strike. Hang on – I’ll call my dad and you can use one of his drivers.
I appreciated the offer, but once H mentioned that I shouldn’t worry, because you know, they’re in uniform, I remembered that Abu H was a retired military man. Arriving to Beirut International in one of the always-flashing ISF SUVs was a little more “look at ME” than I try to be when I travel.
Our conversation moved on to more mundane subjects (like the purchase of a $xxx Prada ski jacket, because it was on sale) and I prepared to call my local Ouweti transport firm.
But then H came online (I know, confusing, but Lebanon is a country of many H’es) and offered to drive me himself.
I’ll be coming from the gym anyway, H said. Its not that far.
Well, anyone with a map could make a convincing argument otherwise, but the thought of braving the burning tires with someone I know sounded so much more appealing than braving them with a tattoo’ed Charbel or Tony that I gave in and said, yes, please.
In the end, the roads were so open that I arrived before the check-in counter for my flight had even opened.
And whether it was due to the strike or to the destination, no one seemed to want to travel to Kuwait today. Empty plane, extra seat to myself, flight time long enough for an afternoon snooze … heaven!
And even more heavenly was seeing my aunt & uncle, Intlxpatr & Adventure Man, waiting for me at the end of the Kuwait International runway.
Photos from the flight:
Beirut from the north:
sunset over Saudi Arabia: