Booking it out of Beirut

It was only a few minutes after I posted my Beirut blog that I got an unsettling email from Sharon. We knew a sheik had been killed in the north the night before and now we knew there would be repercussions. On the way to school, my friends had noticed the quiet streets. Upon arrival they learned of gunfire in the city overnight in the neighborhood where many of their students had spent the night huddled in hallways. Only half the children showed up that morning. Sharon advised me to skip my wandering about the city and stay close to apartment. I finished up my packing and settled into a good book, looking anxiously out the window from the balcony every now and then to look and listen. When the phone rang, I startled. Michael was on the phone. The funeral for the sheik was to be held at 2 p.m. that day and everyone expected trouble. School was closing at noon. Better to get out of town now as the road to the airport is the first to close and traffic could be disrupted by demonstrations or tires burning in the street.

Alright then! With a quick final packing and heart racing from the adrenaline (I’m not used to dealing with gunfire and demonstrations), I made my way out to the street to find the taxi. One stopped right way but it wasn’t white like the one I was expecting so I waited, as hard as that was. A few minutes later, an older gentleman in a white taxi stopped. I asked with a pretend phone to my ear if he had been called, he nodded and off we went. Other than an army truck and soldiers at the end of the street, I didn’t notice anything askew. As we drove through the streets, my heart ached for the people of Lebanon for whom this violence was all too familiar. It’s a country with such a tenuous peace.

Because I was so early, I settled in to wait for the airline desk to open. I played peek a boo with a young child nearby, eliciting warm smiles from her scarved mom. Once inside the gate area, there were televisions turned to the funeral. People were gathered around them, watching silently as people chanted and walked through the streets. Since it was all in Arabic, I have no idea of the words.

It got closer and closer to the time of my boarding but still there was no plane. They announced that the flight to Syria was cancelled but no word on my flight. Eventually, a flight crew and the plane arrived to my relief. I took my seat on the plane next to a young couple who were part of a Cirque de Soleil traveling crew heading to Croatia for a week of R&R. (That seems like a nice potential occupation!)

The announcement was made that we would not be flying for another 40 minutes. Eventually, though, we made it up and into the air. My heart rate settled back to an easy rhythm for the 2 hours to Istanbul.


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  1. Sandra Timko

     /  May 24, 2012

    Glad you are safe.

  2. I’m so glad you made it out okay. Have fun in Turkey and Germany!

  3. jan bee

     /  May 24, 2012

    Glad you made it “out of Dodge” safely.


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