I decided to try something different for my blog in November. For 11 days, I’ll post stories from the war that didn’t make it into the recently published Coffee & Orange Blossoms: 7 Years & 15 Days in Tyre, Lebanon.
While recovering from our evacuation experience in July 2006, I wrote a debriefing journal, while memories were still fresh. I predicted that the stress of that time in our lives would erase details that could be helpful to remember later.
I almost incorporated this added information into the email pages of the book, but decided that realism would be ruined and the urgent feeling of their brevity would be lost.
Now I offer you these details as an added-value bonus to supplement the rather sparse treatment found in the book.
18 July 2006
The Convent in Lebanon
In my evening email on the 18th, I had to correct a mistake I’d made in dating an email while we were still in Tyre. I had incorrectly dated the 16 July email as 17 February! That just goes to show how much stress we were under.
Edmond drove my Pajero part‐way down the hill from the convent to a service station in an effort to acquaint himself with how it handled. I think he was nervous about driving such a big car, but he did well. We had to make arrangements that would allow him to officially represent me regarding the car after we left.
We sat for a half‐hour or so, waiting for the car to be serviced. Edmond and I talked about him feeling free to use our vehicle as long as he liked – permanently if needed. He would arrange to sell it and send us the money otherwise.
That talk brought us closer together than ever before, sitting on plastic chairs on a sunny evening in front of the gas station, knowing that we were soon to part company for a long time and possible forever. We had been through so much together, shaping and molding each other’s lives for seven years. Saying goodbye to such a close brother was too hard.
The sisters from the convent were noticeably strained by their own fears about what was happening to their country and what might happen to them. They were also hosting other westerners that had been meeting in a conference at their facility and who were caught without an airport from which to travel home. Even so, they made many concessions to us. We were able to take a key to a media room with an Internet connection at any time that we needed.
The food they served included too many eggplant dishes to suit me, but there was always something to eat, in as much quantity as we wanted. I rediscovered my appetite and ate enough to cover both that week and the previous one. It was still hot, even up there on the mountain, and I sweated constantly and drank as much water as I could.
Kimarie had to wash both of our family’s two sets of clothes, as she was able, and hang them to dry on the balcony of our room. A shirt blew off and into a tall tree, requiring that we throw things down on it from above to dislodge and recover it.
The children didn’t have enough toys, and kept playing in dirty, dusty parts of the place. They showed an uncanny talent for finding things to soil themselves with, just when we had no other clothes to change them into. They also naughtily grabbed the phone, spilled water, played with electrical cords, etc. Perhaps it was because their parents were lifelessly lying around, at the end of their ropes – unable to play with them as they normally would.
Kimarie talked to our former Arabic teacher. I talked to my best English student. I couldn’t get through to Sadiq’s sister or fiancée, so I sent a text message to him in Saudi. He wrote back to let me know that his family were all still safe.
I also got hold of the friends, who had offered to drive out with us so early in the morning the day before. They learned from me that we planned on evacuating and it upset her. She wanted assurances that we would be returning, which I couldn’t give her.