Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lebanon - No Tourists Here

I had the most amazing experience in Tripoli. Tripoli reminds me of what a Westerner would imagine the Middle East to be. Busy, hustling, bustling, noisy streets lined with people who serve Turkish coffees, baklava, and freshly squeezed blood orange juice.

One thing that disappointed me on this trip was the lack of Western tourists. Lebanon attracts people from all over the Arab nations. People from Iraq, Egypt, and Syria come here. Why? They love Lebanon because it's also an Arab nation where they can get drunk, gamble, and buy sex. And nobody judges them.

But why were all the Western tourists gone? In 2007 there was all out war in Tripoli against the Palestinians. Recently, there's been that Syria-thing. All this means - NO TOURISTS from anywhere except the Arab States.

Somehow, I found a Norwegian programmer to travel with temporarily. I also found a German, internationalist journalist for a famous newspaper. The three of us exchanged stories about the Middle East and what is happening here. The Syrians just entered the Lebanese borders. We hear stories of Arabs killing Arabs, Christians killing Arabs, Arabs killing Christians, and everyone killing everyone.

Now, let's go back to what this amazing experience was. I was in the hotel, sipping on Turkish coffee. The German had finished his shower. The Norwegian finished paying the bill. I said it was time for breakfast.

We entered a small restaurant. A Lebanese Semitic guy greeted us and said, "What do you guys want? Tell me. No one speaks English here but me." So, we told him. Nothing out of the ordinary. There was cheese and flat bread, and meat and flat bread, and cheese dumplings.

The three of us chatted. The Lebanese guy spoke with us as well. As he walked out he said, "Don't worry about the bill. I paid for it. Welcome to Lebanon." He walked out without a further word.

The three of us just looked at each other confused. I said, "That was too much." The other two agreed.

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