Yesterday we packed our swimming gear and headed to the sea. After some swimming we decided to go against reason and take a walk. To say the least, walking is not the preferred form of transportation in Beirut: the traffic is absolutely crazy.
One area that’s worth exploring by foot though, is the beautiful campus of the American University of Beirut. AUB is one of the best universities in the Middle East and was originally founded by American missionaries in the late 1800’s.
One thing that requires quite a lot of getting used to in Lebanon are guns, particularly heavily armed soldiers. They are a common sight at every street corner and entrance point, including AUB gates. It adds to a very strange feeling of separation and tension; one moment you are facing a combat rifle on a 20-something, and the next strolling in beautiful haven of free thought. I avoid taking pictures of the soldiers because I just want to steer clear from any potential trouble but I just wanted to mention them because the guns do signal, amongst other things, an environment of unrest which is not visible in the pictures. Have people gotten used to seeing guns all the time? I have no idea, but I can say we are not talking about ‘discreet’ little handguns here. It is a stark contrast to Toronto, or Finland where you can walk in and out of campus freely with no guards in sight and even live most of your life never seeing a firearm.
In the evening we made a family outing to a great Armenian restaurant. The problem with the trip so far seems to be there just is way too much good food! I’m glad the airlines have weight limitation only on baggage 🙂