Well, this has been one interesting ride. Barely four months ago we moved from Mexico City to Beirut. We've already visited Byblos, Tripoli and Sidon, in Lebanon, and Damascus, in Syria. And we found an apartment! That apartment search was tough, but our real estate agent did an amazing job and, in the end, found us what they here call a "roof" (the last floor of a building). It's in the Christian area of Achrafiyeh (الأشرفية), one of the oldest of the city. It's a very curious area, with lots of tiny, winding streets; many Christian churches of diverse denominations, and Christian symbols visible and plentiful; and many small commerces like cafés, flower shops and bakeries where the preferred language, besides Lebanese Arabic, is French, not English! Oh, and we're within shooting distance from Monot, the party street! And from Centre Ville (the now gorgeously – mostly – restored historic centre) and numerous historic sites! We really lucked out!
As for the "roof"? It's got a pretty old lift, like really old and tiny. But it seems to work, LOL. Also, the door to our apartment is one of those old, big, wooden doors with smoked glass panels. And we have a balcony that goes all around! You can see the Mediterranean from one side! I mean, it's partially hidden by buildings, but you can still see a sliver of azure blue in the distance! No AC, though, so for the first time since I lived in Beijing in 1997-1999, I find myself sweating just by sitting down in the living room. Oh well...
Then again, the place is huge. Huge! And since we have basically zero belongings, well, it looks even bigger! Fortunately we found a nice and very peculiar furniture shop nearby, called Maus Haus, and owned by a very friendly and unique woman from Spain. Lots of metal, simple stuff, the sort we like. So right now we have a small table, a couple of chairs, a duvet (sleeping on the floor until we find a bed we like – we want to buy stuff to last us for a long, long time), some candles, a vase for flowers, a couple of tree trunks that serve as candle holders, some books, our computers, and trinkets. Enough to begin a new life together.
BTW, we've got a car too! We had been renting, but with work in a different town (Naccache) and us insisting on living in the centre of it all (Beirut), we can't rent indefinitely without going bankrupt terrifyingly soon. So, now we're the proud owners of a 1980 (or eighty something) Peugeot! It's such an old car, but it was a bargain. And it's led me to develop amazing driving skills – our parking space at the building is such a tight spot, surrounded by other cars, walls, and whatnot. I would have never thought myself capable of driving a car into and out of that sort of space!
So, here we are, a month before our second anniversary, living together for the first time in a fascinating land surrounded by equally fascinating places, with a couple of new friends already, and looking forward to what adventures life in the Paris of the Middle East will bring!
Cheers! Our should I say, keskon! (Lebanese for "cheers to you-plural")