Lebanon Part II 060517

Monday, Day 4 of our adventures in this sweet country. We have had three full days of excursions and spontaneity - we've done so much in such a short time! In short... Day 1 - Photoshoot in the mountains with horses / Day 2 - mystical caves and a night that still hasn't processed / Day 3 - beach day. Our hotel, Aleph Boutique in Byblos is also wonderful! Very attentive staff and excellent lodgings with a killer roof top bar and lounge.

Looking out over Byblos's ancient Phoencian castle from our breakfast room. 

Looking out over Byblos's ancient Phoencian castle from our breakfast room. 

Each day uniquely brings us slightly closer to Lebanese culture. The people are very hospitable and I've felt welcomed and safe in the hands of our amazing friend and guide, Simon. 

Every thing here is connection, connection, connection. A friend of a friend's that has a brother who knows so-and-so over at the shop in the corner of the next street over. In other words... how did we get there? Haha! So Day 1 Simon surprised us with a photoshoot with a photographer friend who knew a farmer who had a family ranch with horses. Thankfully we brought a costume, as any belly dancer would probably do, just in case we had a small window of opportunity to shoot some photo's. Well... we got a whole day! Lol! On the way up we picked up we rode, us three, Simon, Sandra and I, Tony, the photographer who kindly picked us up from the hotel and brought us back, and John the farmer.

John talked and told stories the whole way from how he lives between Byblos and Cypress to stories about hyena' s attacking his dogs and chickens. Simon's expression was priceless at the mention of that poor hyenas tragic death. Bringing his hand to his head slowly as if in agony, with a gasping "why?!" Hahah! The drama, that was too funny. Another story of John's that also perplexed us as we tried to keep a straight face -though we must have looked like we were watching a horror movie - was one long-long story about how he shot a man "between the legs" (meaning at the floor between his feet) because this guy wanted to pick a fight out of no-where. He also had lots of stories with his horse Elissar, where all of this sounded like the Don Quixote and Rocinante of Lebanon. I'm still laughing!!!

Though that first day was themed "photoshoot" it felt more like we were just hanging out with locals. We met John's cocky yet funny brother and his friends, ate, drank, rode horses, and just enjoyed being outdoors. 

Day 2 was an excursion to Jeitta Grotto. Wow!! Magically stunning stalagmite/stalactite formations in this gigantic grotto.... we couldn't take photos, just sneak a couple. There were two levels we went to, but my favorite was the boat ride where I felt like I was in a Pirate's of the Caribbean movie. Being there on the little boat, running my hands through the icy water, pouring droplets onto the back of my neck and taking a sip - just made me want to jump in and swim all day! The caves had so many interesting formations!!! Like when we look at clouds, we spotted shapes and figures, some towered so high in mushroom-jelly fish-like formations, some looked like a dinosaurs scaly back. It was phenomenal! 

That night of Day 2 we had dinner and a show at Le Royal Hotel with the rocking Bassima!! Wow, what an energy! Sparky, raw, rock -star beauty who is so innovative in her work. She was so nice and welcoming, she pulled us up to dance - squealing with excitement and shyness, we got up and danced one at a time as she sat in our chairs to cheer and watch. This night was so memorable, I am still digesting and will leave this topic for another, more thorough blog. 

Day 3 was beach day! I couldn't wait to go in that water, it was so refreshing, so clear and the perfect temperature! Simon's beautiful cousin Josiane came along and it felt like we had that fun, sweet cousin you haven't seen in forever and connect with right away. We relaxed and enjoyed our Sunday. Dinner we walked to the nearby souk where bars were playing some good music and an area blocked off for an elaborate wedding. Met some fun strangers who we drank and danced with and learned a little Lebanese history along the way. 

I'll cut it short now as we have so much more to go this week. Will be posting more later! 

Instagram for a little more...? @alxndraArts

Love from Lebanon, Alexandra