Friday, June 29, 2007

Back home in Montreal.

So I've entered all my thoughts in this steno pad for the past 3 weeks. About 44 pages worth. Now I must transcribe all of these entries into this blog. Will probably take me a week or two.

Mind you I won't be transcribing everything. For one I was taking notes to remember events, so I can write about them in chronological order, and secondly I kept a dream journal and no one needs to know those.

Some of the entries are very mondane and boring. They will be entered with the correct date so will appear before this one, dating from June 8th to June 28th. The first Entry is called "Flying to Beirut Today"

Thursday, June 28, 2007

More ramblings from the Air Canada flight

3:00PM Montreal time
Half an hour more. I'm so impatient. So fed up of being on a plane. So sad that my sweetie and I had to split up at least until December. Sigh. I managed not to cry somehow, by not thinking about it. I'm so tired. I don't think we managed to sleep more then 2 hours last night.

We got back from Byblos with Sandra and Patil around midnight. Then we had all this paperwork to fill, pack our luggage. He had to burn for me several DVD's. We had to be up at 5AM to catch the cab at 6AM. Beirut airport is always fun. First before entering airport, you get some of your luggage searched. As luck would have it, we got the surly guy. HE was obviously not pleased to have the early morning airport duly. He even opened the file folder from my carry on with all the immigration papers.

Then you line up for a securty check, where all your luggage is passed through the x-ray machines. People taking you to the airpot must leave you there. You cannot get in airport unless you're flying. THen you check in your bags, and go through yet another security check with your carry on. And people worry about security???

Just like yesterday walking in Beirut to set get to this university type bookstore. We had to go through an army checkpoint. Samer was surprised they did not stop us and search my purse and frisk him. I never went anything in Beirut without my passport. And while we went through dozens of chec points, in the 4 days I was there, non gave us any grief. THough it's fun to navigate in parts of Beirut. THe streets are a veritable obstacle course, meant to prevent anyone from going fast. One of the taxi's we took commented about if they could make the obstacle course any tighter. Gotta love the sarcasm.

Neat taxi system. For 1500 leb pounds per person [or $1 USD], you get a 'pooling taxi". If the cab is going your way he picks you up. He picks up to 4 passengers. If you're walking along , each cab that passes you buy that has a free seat will honk to let you know he might be going where you're going.

You get used to the constant honking after a while. Not that I'm not used to it in Montreal, but usually it's because I'm female... :P Beirut is a city that never seems to sleep. Between the honking cabs, the noisy mopeheads, that also beep, honking people, Mosques with loudspeakers, roosters, and local cafes, there always seems to be noise.

Also it seems there are very few single unit homes left. THey all get torn down to make 12 story or so buildings. Despite the buildings taking up every inch of available land and living in close proximity to neighbors, people manage to have vegetation growing along balconies, roofs, and edges of buildings. Saw Laurel and hibiscus trees.

Also what amazed me was just the sheer volume of Lebanese flags everywhere, lining streets as banners, off balconies. Of course pictures of various leaders are displayed on homes, billboards. Most buildings have some kind of shop on the ground floor. Near the gate of the building Samer's family lives in, on one side is a little convenience store, on the other a small coffee shop/casse croute type place. All mom & pop type shops.

Another thing I found surprising were the metal doors in front of the wood door. Mostly to prevent people from barging into your home. Handy during war times. Of course it probably makes it theft proof as well.

I was toured quickly through "downtown" Beirut, which is almost all new buildings made to look like the older buildings that were destroyed during the civil war. What struck me there is that other then army checkpoints, there seemed to be a security guard outside just about every building. The downtown area was very quite, so where the pubs in both areas I was driven around in both Beirut and Byblos. Seems the explosions in the past month has killed business and tourism. People stay home, visit with friends.

Blogging from the Air Canada flight

2:15 PM Montreal Time
As per usual food, on AC flights suck. THere afternoon snack is a pizza pocket. Loaded with white flour and sugar no less. Funny how other companies, including MEA tend to make their veggie meals without tons of sugar or white flour. So I'm setting here feeling totally hungry from the semll of food, knowing I'll be sick if I eat

I'm tired and crabby and I want to be home already. I know there's about an hour before we land and I have to be patient. But after the stress of Charles de Gaulle, I'm feeling pretty annoyed. And the worst part is that I'm going to get thome to an empty house and there won't be food and I won't be able to sleep in the morning since tomorrow is Friday and my cleaning lady will be in bright and early.

Rant from Charles De Gaulle Airport

Paris 1:13PM
I've never seen such hell to get passengers between terminals. I was sardined for over an hour in terminal 2F waiting for a shuttle. Cattle are better kept. People started getting impatient and rude and almost caused a mob scene.

Mental Note: when I travel to Dubai in December, I'm not going to transit via Charles de Gaule. At least the security check in Terminal 3 in Heathrow might be a bitch to get through, but at least there is a longer corridor and people do not mob so much.

THankfully I'm in my place finally, which should be leaving in 5 minutes. Plane seems reasonably full, it might actually leave as planned. I was one of the last 3 passengers onboard they were waiting for before departing.

THank God, I do not faint as easily as I did at 18, and I have a decent control over my claustrophobia. I mean were were squished likie sardines. Worst design I've seen in a long time, like WTF? Charles De Gaulle airport SUCKS! I'm so grateful at the moment to be on a plane. I was starting to think I'd miss it [Breathe girl, breathe]

Ramblings while waiting take off from Beirut Airport

The two days spent in Beirut were so incredibly rushed. Somehow managed to meet 20-30 of my hubby's closest friends and relatives. Friends took me sight-seeing in both Beirut and Byblos. So much in so little time in Beirut. Pity we spent so little time in Beirut. However Sonia suggested we spent a week in Beirut at Christmas. But as it goes with travel to Beirut, I bet it will be a last minute decision. I will book my UAE tickets and if things look good, we will fly to Beirut for Christmas. Will get to see a bit more and who knows things might be less tense by then. [After which all I can hear in my head is an uproar of laughter]

We flew in from Cyprus on Monday and arrived just after midnight. There I got to meet Karim, Samer's "Step-dad". He picked us up at the airport with Samer's mom. Tuesday morning we woke up early. Samer, his mom and sis were supposed to to to some notary's office but it was closed till afternoon. Samer took me to a souvenir shop on Hamra street. Then we ended up at Cafe Prague and had some lunch. Got to eat some falafel. Was quite yummy. Did some more errands. I seem to remember we picked up a hard disk. We also went to a couple of bookstores, one of them "La librarie Orientale", where I bought 2 humourous books on the Lebanese, One caled "Life's like that!" and the 2nd "Live's ... even more like that!". Also picked up "Le Liban, Vue par l'objectif de Munir Nasr". At least I have pictures of all the things I was not able to see.

Side note on Cafe Prague, really unique decor and menu's. Pub at night, hangout place with decent food by day. You know the type of place people go hang out to meet up with friends, or to pretend to work with laptop. Everything from the menu's to the bathrooms was unique, and artsy.

After our errands, we went back home, Sonia was working hard to make sure everything was ready for the party that evening. Around 4PM, Samer, his mom & sister went back to the notary. I was left in appartment with one of his mom's friend, Jumana [I think that's how it's spelt]. Ended up showing her pictures of my kids, and some of my garden on facebook!!!

Does not seem like there is a woman in Samer's life who did not check me out. However, I was told most seemed to think I was fine. Only 1 person at the party seemed to think I was too old for him. Though the party was at 6PM of course no one arrived before 6:30PM. His friend Souad was there first. Then slowly people arrrived. I'm guessing a total of 40 people showed up, though some came early and left just as quickly and some came late. But it was still a lot of people for shy little me to meet. I pretty much stayed in two seats most of the night. Thankfully some of Samer's closest friends were nice enough to try to engage me into convo, like Bshara, Sandra and Patil. Sadly I was too shy to say much, but there is always a next time.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Last day in Cyprus, she can only whine about the heat.

It is so bloody hot again today. Been wearing a wet face cloth on my neck to help no9t make heat rash worse. Dunno if it will work or not. It's about 40 here and will be for the rest of the week. IT's about 33 in Beirut. At least will be somewhat cooler.

Baby and 2 of her kittens have been hanging out for the past ho0ur, resting in a shady spot. Hot for them too.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Ubber cute kittens

It's so cute, 2 of the kittens are sleeping in the house beside the kitchen door next to the vacuum cleaner. Today is probably the warmest day we've experienced here. IT was still incredibly warm when we went walking around 7PM and we only walked to the golf club. Sadly by the time we decided to leave, so were the remaining of the golfers, and there was way too much dust in the air.

Made French fries from scratch for the first time. They came out reasonably good considering it was my first time and on a gas stove. I wonder if it will be as warm in Beirut the rest of the week? I hope not since it is more humid there then here.

I woulnd't do anything rash

I'm not a happy camper today. I've realized the rash in my neck is a heat rash. And on my hands it's exzema. From the water and the soap. So I have rashes on the various parts of my body and it's not even the same.

I probably haven't had a heat rash since I was a child! My allergies are really bad today. It's going to be 35 in Limassol, meaning 39-40 up here. Thankfully it's not humid.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Walk to the golf went to the dogs.

We walked to the golf tonight and sat the the bench in front of the driving range for an hour enjoying the wind. It's always so peaceful up there. At some point 3 dogs came around. Guessing some golfers let their dogs roam while they play. A white female, some type of retriever, a chocolate brown male, he looked more like a Labrador, and a white male, shorter legs and obviously an ear infection as he kept stopping to shake it and to whine .

When we walked home, we saw them running about on the road, and they decided to follow us to the village. As we approached the first house, a man came running out to shoo the dogs away. In broken English he mentioned that the female had killed a chicken before and he did not want her near his chickens. We said the dogs came from the golf. Once at the Old Mill house, the white dog kept standing in front of the house for a while then she finally ran off.

Tomorrow is our last day of doing nothing in the hills of Cyprus. Monday night, we fly to Beirut.

Post mortem on the tourist day

We ended up talking till around 1AM yesterday. Sadly when I went to bed I could not sleep. First I was too hyper, then he snored! By 2AM the rooster was already at it. Obviously something woke him up, and he kept crowing. If anything I tossed and turned most of the night. I probably fell asleep between 5 and 7AM only. I'm not tired today despite the heat.

I think visiting all those sites yesterday, some which dated back to 2000 BC really recharged my batteries. Especially standing in several pagan worship circles at both the Amathus and the Appollon Yliatis site.

It's like 36 or 37 out today. The wind is actually warmer then the outside temperature. This is the third ant infestation we've had this week. Ants are the same everywhere. Haven't seen any cats today, except the little gray female this morning. This is a first. The long bowl I'm using to feed multiple cats [Often Baby Sr, and her 3 kittens], still has food in it.

This morning the church Bell rang around 7:45AM. WHen I looked out, there was more cars then I'd ever seen parking in our village. I looked out the window and I noticed that there was about 2 dozen people in the courtyard of the 16th century Church, near the crosses on the side. Seems like it was a memorial services. They all scattered around 9:15. Some went to one of the houses in the village, others just left. One of the crosses is always decorated with fresh flowers. I'm guessing this is who the memorial service was for. So despite the age of the small church, it still seems in use. The mutka of this village apparently has the key, and I've seen her show it around some of the neighboring Brits, and their guests. I should have tagged along. I'd like to see the inside of the church. It seems hundreds of years old

Friday, June 22, 2007

Touring the Antiquities

I'm exhausted and a bit burnt from all the sight-seeing. We started our day by visiting the Amathus Archaeological site. It's not far from where we are staying but closer to the waterfront. It boggles the mind how those who lived there so many years ago had running hot water! We think we're so cool with our technology, but we're not.

We then drove along the waterfront to Lady's Mile beach. Some some blokes para-surfing. Like having water ski's and being drawn by a parachute. Then we found the Convent of St Nicolas of the Cats, or "Agios Nikolaos ton gaton". Coming back we drove along the salt lake.

Our next stop was Kolossi Castle, was a medieval castle. Not a particularly big castle compared to what I've seen in other parts of Europe. Then we went to Kourion Archaeological site. There's a small amphitheatre that is still used even today for Shakespeare plays. The view from there was breath-taking.

From there we went to Kourion beach and stopped at a restaurant right on the edge of the water for lunch. After eating, I could not resist walking in the water. Took pictures of the sea and the rolling hills while I was walking in the water.

Then we stopped at the Temple of Appollon Ylatis, another archaeological site. Interestingly enough, most of the sites we visited were on hilltops, from where one could see the Mediterranean sea. It was funny. Both Steve and Samer thought that the Appollon Ylatis was something else. Samer thought it was the Kourion site, and Steve thought it was at the birthplace of Aphrodite. But when I pointed it out along the road, they were both surprised. It was one of the bigger archaeological sites, with nice remains. Loved the circle there. Stood for a few minutes to feel the energies.

Our next stop was "Petra tou Romiou", the birthplace of Aphrodite. Basically a series of 3 large rocks on the waterfront. Steve stopped at a nice Vista point from where we could see the rocks down below, and took a picture of Samer and I with the rock in the background. Then we went down to see the Rocks proper. This particular waterfront is not so much sandy but has tons of 'gallets', round rocks polished from the sea. I could not help myself but had to walk into the water there. Also 5 stones decided that they must come home with me. And I also ended up tying a kleenex on the ribbon tree before leaving there.

We drove to Pafos, to the harbour. Kato Pafos, in the old harbour was another medieval Castle, which we visited. Seemed from the same time frame as the Kolossi castle. Nice view from the top. Perfect lookout to see if enemy is approaching. From there we also visited the Kato Pafos archaeological site. This is a huge site, that includes 4 homes, excavated to show teh ceramic floors. Took lokts of pictures. There was also an amphitheatre, which Steve thought was bigger then the one in Kourion but didnt' seem to be. People were starting to set up for a play, we took pictures of the set too :) We also saw mosaicsm and the ruins of a 13th century castle. We picked up some souvenirs at Kato Pafos for Chris, Michelle and Eliane.

Antiquities, here we come!

Today we are going to do the tourist thing with Steve. We've going to visit all sorts of Antiquities, near both Limassol and Paphos. Looking forward to checking out "The Birth Place of Aphrodite". Good place to bring back a souvenir for my friend Chris.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The purple tree in Kellaki

We walked to Kellaki today around 6PM. We went to the school yard to take photo's with the purple tree that had caught my attention each time we cross the village with Steve. We also walked up to the church "Agios Georgios", which is an ancient church. The view from there is pretty nice. We stopped at the local store to pick up more phone cards for Samer's PDA so we can get our internet fix. We're both such addicts! Of course since we ended up walking past the Taverna 4 times, we got gawked at 4 times!

Cyprus' rolling hills vegetation

It feels so hot already and it's only 10AM. It's sunny, not a cloud in the sky. The kids seem home today so perhaps yesterday was the last day of school.

I'm amazed at all the vegetation there is despite fact that the land seems so dry, and no rain. I mean of all the wild plants I've identified, there's lavender, some yellow sedum, different types of thistles, some wild rose type flowers, and other vegetation I have no names for.

THere's this flowering tree that comes either with white, pale pink or dark pink flowers, that can be found along most of the main roads, that we also saw in a deep crevasse yesterday on our way to Akapnou, in full bloom too. What makes me smile is all the bushy red hibiscus. Mostly they are red, but I've seen pink ones too. Hibiscuses, especially red ones, already remind me of my mom. Brings me a warm fuzzy feeling.

The geraniums are absolutely the biggest I've ever seen. All sorts of shades of reds and pinks. Also various types of palm trees and cactuses seem to both grow wild and people seem to cultivate them too.

In the back near the patio of The Old Mill House is a fig tree, with tons of green figs. Sadly it's too early in the season to be able to sample some fresh local figs. I was so looking forward to eating fresh figs.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Owls, and Cats oh my!

I managed to get a better picture of the Owls tonight. I tried while it was on the edge of the 16th Century church facing the Old Mill House, and I guess the flash annoyed it, so it flew on top of an electrical pole which was closer to me. So I took 2 more pictures, which probably pissed it off more, so it flew away.

Earlier when I noticed the first one on the church, it flew in my direction and I guess my presence in the street distracted it, so it flew into the electrical wires, and barely made it to the top of another electrical pole. What huge wing-span that bird has. Comes out around 8:30-9:00PM just as night falls, and sings all night.

As for the cat count? Baby has 3 kittens, Mommy has 4. That makes 9 cats. Then there's the 2 big male black tabbies, then there's the one male that looks like baby, one male that's all black and white, one that looks calico, so should be female. So easily about 15 cats that roam around this village. And I thought I had too many cats at home!!!!

Where has all the time gone by?

Where is the time flying buy? Only 8 days left of vacation. I could get used to doing nothing! Today we got up pretty late. I could have slept more except for the fact I was asleep by 10:30 last night, and so tired, I forgot to tkae off my contacts! One of those rare times I slept so much. Must have been the heat in Nicosia yesterday.

Today we walked to the golf club in Vilka, then to the other village, Akapnou, then back to Klonari. TOok us about one hour for the round trip. THe section between Vilka and Akapnou was mostly all steep downhill. Was hard on the calves, but Samer wished he had a bicycle to go downhill very fast. Of cousre since it's a dirt road, he would have had fun trying to stop and get the curves.

I made pasta for lunch today, and made 2 sauces. One with ground beef for Samer and one with Zucchini & lentils for me. Both also had onions, garlic, green peppers and carrots. Both came out well, though I must take Samer's opnion for the meat based one since I didn't touch it myself. Still get grossed out, especially by uncooked meat.

I thought we had filled out all the immigration forms the other day, we had spent 3 hours doing so, but apparently we forgot to fill out the Quebec specific ones it seems. Ahhhh, more flucking forms! Oh well one must do what one must do!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I talk about the weather because I'm Canadian.

It was more then 40 in Nicosia today. Thankfully, it was mostly dry heat. Was about 29 in Limassol, and about 35-36C in the hills of Klonari. We waited around 6PM to go take a walk to the golf club before heading back. I was amazed how hot it was even by 7PM. Usually where there is a lot of vegetation, it cools faster. It's actually cooler in Limassol with the breeze from the Mediterranean sea then it is in the mountains.

Nicosia, Lebanese Embassy Part Deux & Sightseeing

We went to Nicosia again today. Didn't leave quite as early as yesterday. The Canadian consulate had stamped our marriage certificate. We were in and out in under 5 minutes. It took maybe half an hour at the Lebanese Embassy. She was unhappy with the fact she didn't get the original, but we h ad told her it was with the Canadians. So she stamped the copy. In 15 days, Samer must call the embassy to get a number, which he presents to some Foreign affairs office in Lebanon, and our marriage will be registered with them. But the documentation they wanted. In duplicate.

After we finished with the paperwork, we went sight-seeing in the "old Nicosia". Inside the old Venetian city walls. We walked around, and went up on teh Shakolas building on Ledra street, which boasts a panoramic view of all of Nicosia. From there we can see the Turkish side. We saw the Turkish flag carved into the mountains. What an insult it must be to the Greek Cypriots.

We had lunch at a nice little place on Ledra street. Samer had a spicy folded pizza and I had an eggplant, mozarella, tomato salad. Our guide buddy Steve had an orange juice. We went into a tourist shop, but nothing was appealing. We also went into a Tourist Info center and I picked up a few brochures, makes for nice souvenirs.

Internet hasn't been working on Samer's mobile today either. Annoying really since we are both internet addicts! He could live in the mountains in the middle of nowhere, so long as there was fast internet. :P

Monday, June 18, 2007

It's more fun when you're Lebanese

So we get to Nicosia. First we stopped at the Justice Ministry and they told us because we're Lebanese and Canadian we do not need them stamped by the Justice ministry but by Foreign affairs. So we went to Foreign affairs and we got the original and the 3 copies stamped. That proved to be cheap and painless.

Then we went to the Canadian consulate. They wanted a bank draft for $50 CAD for certifying the paper. I gave them the original. We figured we'd pick it up on our way back after going to the Lebanese embassy. Well the Lebanese embassy wanted all sorts of papers. Including a paper which Samer will have to fill out with my name in Arabic.

ALso need to put a religion for me. So since we didn't have half of these papers, we had to go to Limassol, to get copies made at city hall. Orthodoxia, was there smiling and very helpful. She even made copies of our passports for us free of charge no less.

So tomorrow morning, we're going back to Nicosia to pick up the original from the Canadian consulate, and to deal with the Lebanese embassy. With all our papers with copies in duplicate.

Baby my adopted Cypriot cat is doing so much better. Her eyes are brighter, her fur is shinier. She seems more energetic. In fact she didn't touch the food tonight. She let the kittens eat it mostly. I saw her later in the filed behind the house with several kittens. She seems to be teaching them how to hunt. Good for her!

Nicosia bureaucracy

Today we were up at the crack of dawn, well 6AM and I was awake at 4:30AM when Bob started signing, because we're going to Nicosia. First to the Minister of Justice, then to the Minister of Foreign affairs. After we have to hit both the Canadian consulate and the Lebanese embasy. This will be fun. Supposed to be over 35C in Nicosia today. Weeee!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Rice and Lentils.

I'm exceptionally pleased with the rice & lentils I made today. I'd never cooked with a gas stove before this week. Last time I made rice it was sticky & burnt. Gaz cooks so much faster then my electric cook top. But I figured out how to make perfect rice, not sticky, not burnt. The lentils came out better too. I added carrots, onions & garlic,. Much tastier. I had to laugh. I realized though, the packaging was in Greek, the lentils were Canadian!

We walked all the way to Kellaki today. Took us about an hour each way. Probably a total of 8 or 9 KMs. Funny that the sign next to the Old mill house says "Kellaki 5KM" and the sign in Kellaki says "Klonari 4KM"!

Keep your rooster away from my bedroom

So this morning it seems Bob was in our bedroom. It turned out he was standing right outside our bedroom patio door, saying "Wake up lazyheads", at 7:30AM. We ended up only getting up around 9:30 AM. Probably the latest we stayed in bed so far.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Restlessness settles in

Today we walked around 6PM. We got 2/3 of the way to Kellaki village. Tomorrow we will attempt to make it all the way. My legs hurt from all the up & down hill walking. Went up to 28 today, though it felt warmer.

I'm so not used to doing absolutely nothing that I'm feeling incredibly restless today. I mean I never do nothing. I work, I garden, I do stuff around the house. I watch TV, but doing nothing is a novel concept. Heck I'm generally on the laptop doing something when I do nothing. I attempted to draw the road leading to Akapnou. Not one of my best works.

Friday, June 15, 2007

After the ceremony

It was a cute marriage ceremony, even for a civil union. The whole ceremony lasted about 15 minutes. The text the marriage officer reads is obviously a direct translation from the Greek. Steve took lots of pictures. Of course my fingers had swelled so I had to argue to get the ring on, but I got it on.

We went to the Venetian restaurant on the seashore road between the Amathus and Limassol. They served a vegetarian moussaka that was to die for. I brought the rest home in a doggie bag, to eat later tonight. The owner Tony, was pretty friendly, and they also serve good food for the carnivores in your life.

My hair looked nice with the orchids as a crown and it worked well with the weather, about 34 today. I made two braids and pinned the flowers through the braids on the top of my head.

Wedding day in Limassol

It's the morning of the big day. I woke up at 6, 6:30, then finally got up at 7:15AM. I did want originally to get up at 6 to start on my hair, but rarely, I was too tired. I decided to let Samer sleep in while I ate breakfast.

I opened the door to the kitchen and it didn't take more then 5 minutes for Baby to show up for her breakfast. She ate most of it before the other female cat, I nicknamed "Mommy", came around and pushed her out of hte way. She didn't seem to mind so much and just went on her merry way. She's looking less skinny already, but she was full of sticky plant seeds, which I removed most of while petting her. She's quite affectionate and purrs if I pet her.

There's 5-6 children in this village and the school bus, a white volkswagen mini-van, picks them up around 7:15AM for school. The bus driver, a girl of no more then 20 helps them into the vehicule. They come back home at 1:15PM. Before the heat gets oppressive.

It's the Mediterranean, and people tend to stay in during the hottest hours. Only the crazy tourists go about in the midday sun.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Internet in the hills of Cyprus

Samer figured out how to get the internet going on his PDA today with the memory chip for his pay as you go he got for Cyprus. This permitted us to go on gmail and on facebook. I realized I did not have hair pins to hold the flowers in my hair. My gut told me that Steve would be at the golf today and so we asked him to drop in on us on the way back from golf. We went to the nearest store which is a grocery/pharmacy - a Cash & Carry to find hair pins.

It's amusing, now that I've been making meals for the past 4 days Samer seems to trust my cooking. I guess he was really 'traumatized' by his mom's cooking. It's one of the first times I cook with a gas stove. I like the speed at which things cook compared to my electrical range top I have at home. Today I made pasta with a lentil tomato sauce. I had fried some chopped garlic, onions, green peppers & carrots. Added the lentils and tomato sauce. Turned out pretty good, considering I don't have any of my cooking spices.

I've been afraid that food will be bland since all I have for seasoning is salt & pepper. For lunch we had a tomato, cucumber, onion, carrot and black Olive salad, with lemon and Olive oil as dressing, along with the baby potatoes from last night.

Tonight we walkede about 1 hour. We took another road, which claimed to be 5 km to the village of Akapnou. But I think their signs are wrong. Took us longer to walk to the golf which they claim is 1km away!

Picked up some cat food for my Baby and her babies today. She's this white cat with splotches, that seems to have 3 kittens. She's so incredibly skinny, I've been feeling compelled to feed her. Had been giving her milk the past 2 days but while they like it, I know it's not good for their digestive track. Got her some Whiska's dried cat food, 2 small bags. One of tuna, one of beef. She eats it so fast. Hopefully I will put some weight on her in the 2 weeks i'm here, so she can better fend for herself later.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Otus Scops

I've identified I think the birds that sound like someone raking over cement. It looks like some type of owl like bird. We tried taking pictures, but they are too far away on top of a neighboring church, that even the flash didn't help.

We went for another walk, this time we walked 45 minutes towards Kellaki, which is 5km away. We didnt' see either a car or a person walking. Something did grunt at us while we walked buy, but nothing we could identify. Perhaps a boar? The sky is so full of stars. Of course the only thing I can clearly identify are the dippers.

Sonia called Samer to tell Samer that the explosion in Beirut tonight was no where near their home. However it was near the waterfront between where we went for lunch on Sunday and where we went for a drink with Patil on Sunday night. Spooky. Since we're not listening to news and we don't have internet, we won't know much from the outside world.

First walk to Golf club

We walked to the Vilka golf club. It took us about 45 minutes to get there and come back. THe view is breath taking. Just funny to me to see a golf club in teh middle of nowhere in hte mountains. I didn't put any sunscreen on since it was around 3:30 PM when we left. I might be a touch burnt but it will give me a little more color later.

I'm a suck for a cute cat.

It's a lazy day at the Old Mill House. I was awake around 5AM. Bob the rooster was obnoxious, but despite his constant noise making I slept again. Despite the heat, there's a nice breeze in the mountains. The old mill house stays relatively cool. This morning I had 3 cats hanging around the front door. One seemed so think, I ended up giving her a bowl of milk, which she lapped away in no time. I know. I'm such a suck for a cute cat. The picture is of the thin mother cat, I called "Baby" and one of her kittens, which ended up being "Baby Jr", since she would also respond to my 'Hello Baby".

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The black orchid and tourist shops...

We went around the tourist area and picked up some souvenirs mostly for the women close in our lives and of course for my gay bf. Got him a postcard with a naked guy! After we did that, we took a walk on the waterfront of Limassol. Then we went walking back into the tourist area looking for the Black Orchid flower shop.

Samer remembered a George street.. so we went that way. But apparently it was a George church we should have been looking for. However we walked through the red light district of Limassol it seems. After walking around and not finding place, we called and realized we were in completely wrong area. So we tried walking to the flower shop but gave up at some point, we were both too tired of walking, and took a cab.

We now know the Black Orchid is near the Pizza hut and the Holiday Inn on the road between Amathus and Limassol on the waterfront. The owner, Anthony is pretty nice. He suggested Orchids for my hair, and suggested I go for white rather then pink. Said if was in Pink dress, the flowers should be a different color. He also insisted on making a small bride bouquet, his gift to me. Was made of miniature roses mostly.


Despite fact Steve told us we were going to have sunny weather for the duration, it's cloudy and it looks like rain clouds. Ive told it occasionally rains in the mountains. The only traffic we see is people on their way to the golf usually mostly middle-aged men, Brits.

It was funny, when we went to the immigration office to extend his Visa for 5 more days, we saw several middle aged men, with much younger women. Samer suggested perhaps the women were the house keepers. But the 10-14cm heels, tight jeans, or short tight skirt they were wearing suggested that they were mail-order brides to me. Most were either asian, Philippina, or Russian.

We mentioned it to Steve and he told me this is pretty common. His comment was something to the effect that Cypriot women were no pic-nic. However he wondered how the Cypriot society would b e affected by this. I find it interesting how when women get emancipated, they tend to look for men who appreciate that them as such. However to a woman from a third world countries the men who we find too old fashioned seem great to them.

Just like I read about in the UAE, the women tend to marry an ex-pat [American, British, French. Germans]. Whereas the men go for the Philipina, and asian women who are generally most submissive.

Paperwork, paperwork, more paperwork.

Incredibly it only took 1 1/2 hours to get through immigration office for Samer to get his Visa extended for another 5 days. His Visa for Cyprus was shorter then the time we were staying. Then it took 30 minutes to apply for a marriage license at the city hall in Limassol. The woman who served us was very efficient, nice and friendly. Seems that her name is Orthodoxia.

By then it was 11:30 and so we stopped at "Cafe Dome" near the city hall in the tourist area in Limassol. He had an English Breakfast, and I had a veggie burger. Sadly they put ketchup on my veggie burger but otherwise the food was good.

Day 1 in Cyprus

I had a dream sequence between 6-7AM. Was of course woken up at 5AM by the rooster, which I nicknamed Bob. Two cats have come to check me out. There's a pair of swallows, dark blue almost black that have been flying together around the old mill house. Looks like there are a couple of nests around the roof of the house. The stars were beautiful last night. I hadn't seen so many stars in years.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Flying to Cyprus

We got up at the crack of dawn [4:00AM] to catch a 7 AM flight from Beirut to Larnaka. It's only a half an hour flight, but of course we had to go through like 7 passport checks, and a bit of a search entering the airport by the Lebanese army.

The flight to Cyprus was quick. Barely go up and then back down. We had this guy Steve pick us up at the Larnaka airport. I'd forgotten that Cyprus was under British rule at some point and that they drive on the left side of the road. I'm grateful we didn't rent a car. It's hard for a dyslexic to change orientation!

Our Villa, The old Mill Hous is in a small village near Limassol, called Klonari. About 20 stone houses. It's in the rolling hills. To me the scenery is new, but Samer tells me the hills feel a lot like the country side in Lebanon. It is quite peaceful, except for a bunch of Brits having a party a few houses down. We've beeing hearing them signing and someone playing guitar for the past 3 hours.

It made me laugh, that they sang "Achy Breaky Heart". Overall the singing is quite pleasant, like a bunch of friends singing around the campfire.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Day 1 in Beirut

I was hoping I would not get same sensation as in Weymontachi, where I just wanted to run away from there as fast as possible. Right now it feels really calm. I've seen dozen's of army check points but that's all I've seen.

Today I got to see a bit of Beirut. Samer took me to his university, to his favorite coffee shop, "The coffee shop", and to a little restaurant on the Corniche near the Roche rock, or "La grotte aux pigeons". We also went back to the waterfront with his friend Patil to Rawda Cafe, which Samer tells me is one of the older cafe's around that area.

So far I've met his mom, Patil, and his old boss, choir director and friend, Leila. I'm always so incredibly shy with people when I first meet them. But I got a warm fuzzy feeling from all three.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

On my way to Beirut

So more then half way through the flight, I realize that I'm sitting in the wrong seat. That in fact if I'd sat in the right seat I would have had more rooms for my legs cause it's the emergency exit. I was in the seat directly behind it. Like usual I was not able to sleep. I pretty much checked the time every half hour. If I slept at all it was no more then 30 minutes.

Got to Heathrow 2 hours late, and of course had to go through security check of terminal 3. I don't get that coming off a plane where you've just gone through security to get on, you must go through security immediately. I mean where do they expect us to pick up stuff. I suppose that it's easier to scan everyone then to figure out what country they were from and how heavy duty they have been checked.

Of course you must only have one bag, not even a purse along with a bag, and you must take off your shoes. Waited 30 minutes in a line-up of probably 500 people along this endless corridor it seems.

While waiting in line, my sighing got the guy next to me talking. Just from the sound of his voice I knew he was Lebanese. He had the same accent as Samer speaking English. He bitched about how coming off a plane, we have to go through security.

Finally get through security at same time as Lebanese guy, and we both end up in the same area looking for the MEA counter, there isn't any. Finally we look for information and they tell us it's gate 27, and the plane is boarding. We run like mad to gate 27, and there they checked us in. Apparently a plane from NYC had landed at same time as mine, and I'm guessing between my plane and his plane about 4o passengers were flying to Beirut with MEA. So at least the plane waited for us before leaving. This was rather fortuitous.

We get on the plane and I have to fill a card to enter Lebanon as a foreigner. That is when it hit me that I had left the address where I was staying in Beirut at home. I stressed on the plane hoping my cell would work in Beirut airport so I can call fiance.

The MEA flight was interesting. It's the most children I've seen on a plane in years. Everyone is so friendly> Everyone and their mother talks to you. THere is a certain joy de vivre. Of course I surmised that a lot of Lebanese were coming home to visit. I was one of hte few non-Lebanese on the plane.

Just as we were about the land in Beirut, when I saw the outline of the coast and the buildings, this incredible urge to cry hit me. It wasn't because I'd finally made it to Lebanon after this dreadful week. It wasn't because I was reuniting with my fiance after 3 months apart. It's the first time I go anywhere that I get such intense emotions.

We landed and I noticed army dudes in the Airport. But they seemed more docile then the ones I saw in San Francisco in 1991. I was expecting the military presence. I get to the customs officer and thankfully after telilng him all I knew is that I was staying in Beirut, and that in the excitement of getting married in the next few days I'd left the address at home. He finally said he'd let me through 'this time' without the address.

A friend who I mentioned this, says, you always say "I'm staying at the Plaza hotel". Apparently every city in the world has a plaza hotel :P

My luggage was easy to spot and as I crossed customs I ran into my Lebanese companion of earlier one more time and then found my fiance and his mom waiting for me at the airport arrivals.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Flying to Beirut Today

Already that I hate flying, for starters I found out that while my flights were confirmed, Travelocity had not reserved my vegetarian meals. It didn't help any that I was so busy getting my government issues, notarized, government stamped documents, that I only called to confirm my flight today.

The plane was late arriving from Toronto due to thunderstorms and so it left at least 30 minutes late. And just to make life interesting, as I sat in the plane I realized that there was lightning outside. Prediction is that we will arrive at least 15 minutes late at Heathrow, which if nothing else will keep my 3 hour stop-over shorter.

The plane appeared full, not surprising, more people travel in June then when I had last traveled in February. I was a mixture of bored, stressed and exhausted today. Oh and the first smell that hit me boarding the plane was the smell of urine. Such a delightful aroma. Thankfully in the back of the plane the smell is much better then in the business class.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Down the hall, to your left, just past the ATM


I really dislike bureaucracy. Why do I need to get government issued papers, first notarized and then stamped by the government as authentic? What a crazy world we live in.

So today I made a trip to Ottawa to "Fort Pearson". I had been warned that I'd take a wrong turn and end up in Hull. Well I did end up in Hull twice. From 2 different ways. Finally I ended parking under 111 Sussex Drive, which cost me $2 for an hour, cheaper then downtown Montreal where it's $5 for half an hour. People in the 111 Sussex Drive building were most helpful. I was mentioning to my daughter we had to figure out which way to go and this woman just offered point us in the right direction.

I mean it takes less then 5 minutes to get the papers stamped. But it took 2 1/2 hours to get there. We finally leave the 111 Sussex Drive and in an effort to avoid landing in Hull again, ended up in the free parking of the building where to get papers stamped. Life's little ironies.