One of the best things about being with Ale is that she really cracks me up. Right now she is pacing the house with her brand new fly-clap, much more efficient than the old kitchen towel, mercilessly hunting down mosquitos, her arch-enemies. While doing that she is holding a monologue for several minutes, expanding in great detail on how we are terrorized into being afraid of the sun. Ab-so-lu-tely ri-di-cu-lous, all this pa-ra-noi-a that we are exposed to. When I start giggling she gets aggitated, aksing what’s funny? How can I explain to her?
Today we got lucky, we got the flat above ours, the one with the terrase with the unbelievable view out onto the sea. The appartment is wicked and has two different levels. When the sun sets the whole living room is flooded in red light, it’s really special. So we started cleaning it up right away and moving some of our stuff in. Tomorrow we’ll do the rest, if we can move the stove and the washing machine up the stairs that is.
Yesterday night after work we went to Jeita, probably the biggest cave I have ever seen, certainly the most beautiful one. In the lower grotto they take you on a boat trip on an underground lake, it’s fantastic. There we met Elias, a 22 year-old, multilingual tour guide. He is a staunch supporter of the Lebanese Front, a Christian fundamentalist, has a gun, a knive and a baseball bat in his car and a few more automatic weapons back home, just in case, and is a real fast-talker. We ended up going for a drink with him and ran into a concert of the Four Cats, the local girl-band that specialises in warming up old popular songs and presenting them in a mega-cheesy but somewhat progressive girl-power format. Incidentally Elias is also good at teaching Arabic and he may become our personal teacher. He also knows a lot of old stories and fairy tales.
That’s when Ale and me had the idea of starting a little story collection. I really regret not having learned story telling in Braford from Mrs. Vera. It might be nice to build up a selection of folk tales from this area. From Elias I heard this one about his grandpa:
One day Elias’ grandpa, Maroun, walked through the woods, with a big load of branches and leaves on his back for the goats, when he suddenly saw a fire and people celebrating a wedding. A beautiful young lady, obviously a forest ginni called him with his name. She gave him a stick and some sweets which he wrapped in his handkerchief. He said thank you and God bless the bride. At that moment, when he mentioned God, the whole party vanished. Maroun went home full of fear, praying aloud. But strangely, his heavy load felt light because he had the help of the magic stick. He left the stick and the branches in the stable with the goats and when he came back it had turned into a big black snake. Quickly he took out his pocket knive, killed the snake and burned it. He didn’t tell his wife. Then he called in the kids to give them the sweets, but when he unwrapped them, thay had turned to goat shit. His wife was scolding him for teasing the children and so he told her the whole story. They brought in a virgin Mary and started praying. Next day Maroun went to mass and confessed to the priest. The priest told him the he had been tested by the spirits and that it was only because of his good heart that he could get away. Had he eaten any of the sweets surely a spirit would have entered him and would have taken possession of him. Now every time Maroun goes through the woods he prays constantly and so the spirits stay away.
For the last two days we are lving in cloud castle. During the day the fog is so thick you cant see much further than 50 meters with little wafts of fogg drifting through the garden. In the evening the whole mass will settle below us covering the whole seaside and the sea so we look out onto this perfect soft white mass stretching to the horizon and only a few hilltops sticking out. Magic.