Foreigners Share What Their First Experience Visiting Lebanon Was Like

@livelovebeirut

Sometimes, in the midst of global pandemics, crises, historically disastrous explosions, and an unstable political system, the people of this once-lively nation find it hard to look on the bright side, keep their hopes up, and remember the beauty of their home.

And maybe sometimes, we need an external hand to help us remember why this country is so precious.

The961 came across some heart-warming and refreshing experiences on Reddit that foreigners have had in Lebanon and that remind us exactly of who we are as a nation, whatever our multiple downfalls. They are absolutely uplifting and we certainly don’t want to miss sharing them.

Through ups and downs, we Lebanese can’t help but engage in conversation with visitors to our country, trying to make them feel at home, as we ask where have they been and what they’ve liked about and around.

A Reddit user, u/ZAHKHIZ, had a nice reply to that. “I loved how everyone tried their best to start a conversation,” he said, “from a cabbie who couldn’t speak a single word of English/French and was able to explain to me how many kids he has and his life struggles, to the sweet shop employee in front of Raouche who explained to me all the ingredients.”

u/brigister spoke enthusiastically about the Lebanese people’s hospitality and kindness, in particular. “I loved spending New Year’s Eve at a hostel in Bcharri, where the owners were so amazing and invited us to participate in their family dinner,” he said.

“And then meeting the guardian of the Tannourine national park, who invited us to sleep at his house on the edge of the park, and gave us a guided tour, showing us even more beautiful Cedars covered in snow,” he recounted.

Right, that’s so typical of our Lebanese villagers… We invite strangers to sleep over and go the extra length to make their visit extraordinary.

But the Lebanese people aren’t only about engaging the foreigners, they’re the people who have been trying to hold to their optimism despite what they’re going through.

According to the CNN article by Anthony Bourdain, a celebrity, sure, but also a foreigner who experienced Lebanon, he got a particular love for Beirut. “This was a city where nothing made any damn sense at all — in the best possible way.”

And so just to reiterate that reality in a different way, u/p9h9c says the following about the Lebanese: “I’ve seen only hard-working people, working every day, sometimes 2 or more jobs, not to be able to make a living, and yet still a smile on their face because they love their country and they really do not want to abandon it.”

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A specialty, and something we seem to have forgotten about our beloved nation, is the beautiful diversity of our culture. Bourdain, in the CNN article, reminds us that Lebanon is “a place where bikinis and hijabs appeared to coexist seamlessly, and a Redditor reminded us of that diversity… in our geography, expressing how much he loved it.

“I loved the crazy road trips in those beat-up minivans that would take me across the country, for as little as 1000 lira, to beautiful places like Sour and its amazing colorful houses, or to Baalbak to see ancient Roman ruins (but to be honest, the town itself is underrated). I loved walking through the Cedars in the snow, it was so silent and magical.”

He went further highlighting the diversity of the Lebanese cuisine in these words: “I loved going out, crossing the street and finding Mr. Atallah’s bakery, where I would buy some amazing zaatar w jibne mana2ish for breakfast nearly every morning. God, I miss those. I loved Mathaf Snack’s falafel and tawouk and shawarma. I loved hanging out at Em Nazih, eating some good food, and smoking some arguile.”

And if we just sit and think about it… these are the things about Lebanon that perch in the crevices of our souls. The things that we would seemly forget about our beloved nation until we are reminded of them and their remembrance fills our hearts with love towards our homeland.

Bourdain ends his experience of Beirut with the following, and we can’t help but agree: “It defies logic. It defies expectations. It is amazing.”