Wednesday, 24 April 2013

There's No Stopping Me Now

Soooo…I’ve been M.I.A. recently. I apologize to anyone and everyone who actually pays attention to this little blog. I was busy, but up until recently, I wasn’t busy enough in an interesting way, hence, no blogging.
First things first, what’s happened since the middle of March?!? Well, at that time, I was happily running around and spending time with friends at home in Canada. I was also making sure I was prepared for a trip to Kuwait for the purpose of a job interview and a vacation in Lebanon (Beirut)!!! I prepared myself for an interview working as a contract worker. Even though I had a really good feeling about the job interview, something inside of me told me not to get excited, JUST IN CASE.

I flew into Kuwait on a Thursday night. The Irish chef came to meet me and made sure I got into the country safe and sound. Between dinner with my amazing friends from my former company and a coffee date with the other halfie and her sister (I love those girls!), I was reminded that I am truly blessed because every single person I have in my life is a person who I want in my life. I don’t have any toxic relationships weighing on me anymore and it’s incredible!

 Dinner with my friends from work @ Mais Alghanim #1
 Mmmm! Hummus with meat!
 Arayes and kibbeh!!!

After my interview on Sunday morning, I breathed a sigh of contentedness. That evening, the Irish chef treated me to Indian food from my favourite spot and I started to relax a little bit, and why shouldn’t I? I was in vacation mode, baby! On Monday morning, the Irish chef and I packed, made sure that we had everything we needed and headed to BEIRUT! I was so excited because Lebanon has been on my list of countries in the WORLD I want to visit, but because of rising tension on the borders in the south (with Israel) AND the north (with Syria), I haven’t felt comfortable...I’ve also not had the money, hahaha! Because of feedback from colleagues who are from Lebanon and other colleagues who had visited Lebanon, I felt much more relaxed and assured that travelling wouldn’t be as dangerous as I perceived it to be, or rather as dangerous as the Canadian and American media has hyped it up to be (in Canada, the government’s website cautions citizens NOT to travel to Lebanon, so please take that into consideration if you are not from Lebanon or are not familiar with the country. I am in no way saying go and visit Lebanon. I did a lot of research before even deciding to travel there). I, clearly, did not heed the Canadian government’s warnings and excitedly went on my merry way (you badass, Mik!).

 The hotel room-tiny and comfy!
 Mmmm, mimosas to celebrate!!!
Pizza and spaghetti on Hamra Street

I really, really like Kuwait, and I also really like Dubai, but Lebanon was something…Magical. Does that sound cheesy? Yes. That’s okay though because it was magical! I don’t even know what to talk about first! The lush greenery, the temperate climate and the mesmerizing Mediterranean Sea were all breathtaking. We made friends with locals everywhere we went, including the taxi driver who took us to our hotel on Hamra Street. He told us we had to go to Byblos (the Serbian gentleman already told us we had to go to Byblos). The first night we were there we walked around the American University of Beirut. We had to get special passes (which isn’t normally allowed at night), but the security guards were so amused at our excitement to see the campus that they let us in. We walked around for awhile and it was beautiful! You could see the European influence in the architecture. There’s something about university campuses that makes me want to go back to school. No, I’m not going to go back to school, but I can’t help that it academically inspired me!
Our first day consisted of venturing around Hamra Street and the back streets as well. We found BOOKSTORES, shwarma restaurants, sweet shops, cafes, sheesha lounges, etc…We ate at an Italian spot just down the street from the hotel. It was AWESOME! We relaxed for a few days because this was the Irish chef’s first trip OUT of Kuwait since he arrived in September last year (yikes!). He enjoyed the availability of beer, lol! On our first day there we walked down to the water and had a beautiful lunch at a seafood restaurant. The waiter, a university student, was excited to meet foreigners and gave us a ton of suggestions as to what we should do in Lebanon. After we stuffed ourselves silly, we walked around the pier and sat by the seaside admiring the water.

The waterfront/coastline 
 The waterfront/coastline
 St. George Hotel 

The next day we relaxed and ended up at a pub in the late evening…Yes, me at a pub (it’s abnormal for me to even agree to go to a pub). We chatted with our bartender, a Syrian man who has been living in Lebanon for three years, and laughed a lot! After numerous drinks that the bartender made especially for me (beer and whiskey were on the menu for the Irish chef), the bartender and I ended up having tequila shots! Tequila is my poison. I hadn’t had so much to drink in years, and before I knew it, we were drinking shots with the manager and the DJ! Hello Beirut, my name is Miki and I love you!!! I will admit that I can’t remember the walk back to the hotel. I DO remember falling face first into my bed and not moving until the next afternoon to a pounding headache. Once we recovered, we went to Byblos. It was a windy day, not too sunny though which would have been okay, except that the weather in Lebanon wasn’t nearly as warm (okay, HOT!) as it was in Kuwait. We trekked around the ruins, took a lot of pictures and then ate a massive amount of fish for lunch; it was a fantastic day! Unfortunately, by the time we got back to the hotel the Irish chef was burning up with a fever, so I made a quick trip to the pharmacy to pick up the Middle Eastern version of Tylenol: Panadol, the fix-it-all medicine. It took days, numerous towel hats (cool towel compresses), soup and tea, but eventually he felt better and once he recuperated a bit, we actually sat in bookstores and cafes people-watching. I’m proud to admit that all we did was eat in Lebanon! I ate a beef shwarma, chicken shwarma AND a falafel sandwich!!! YEEEAAAH! Doing it up Lebanese style! I also ate arayes and zatar and cheese pizza.

Byblos















LUNCH at Pepe in the harbour







 I found the ONLY bubble tea shop in Beirut!!! On my visit I got taro milk tea with tapioca
The second visit to the bubble tea shop: lychee slush with tapioca
The Irish chef has the other pictures of the food, but at least I got one of the chicken shwarma!!! YUMMY!!!

At some point during all this going to and fro, I checked my email and was excited to see an offer of employment from the company in Kuwait. I would begin work in less than two weeks (April 14th), meaning I’d fly back to Kuwait (from Lebanon) then fly to Canada (from Kuwait) later that evening, go home, pack and fly back to Kuwait only five days later! Although I was ecstatic about my new job, I was happily returning to COLD and snowy Canada to see my family and friends…And a mourning dove nesting in my sister’s gardening basket. P.S. her eggs hatched yesterday and now we’re proud parents of a gardening basket full of baby mourning doves!


Mama mourning dove nesting on our balcony in Canada :)