After 15 years, I had the opportunity to visit Lebanon for the second time.
In Beirut, I have my paternal grandmother, aunts and cousins. Family I have only seen a few times in my life if that.
I had the opportunity to travel with my three younger brothers. For two of them, it was their first time meeting all this family members and seeing Beirut.
We spent almost two weeks surrounded by family and eating delicious homemade food by grandma.
Our days were spent playing a card game, tarneeb, with grandma always trying to win.
Every morning, she would wake us up early.
It was the happiest days, spent arguing with her, giving her kisses, hugs and fighting about food.
I love my grandmothers.
Unfortunately, they don’t live close to me. One grandmother lives in Venezuela and visits every year.
This grandmother lives in Lebanon and doesn’t have the ability to travel. Being able to spend as much time as possible with her, was key in this trip.
I like learning about my roots, where I come from.
Although language was a barrier at times, we were able to learn about our family.
She insisted in teaching Arabic words during mealtime with the promise that in one hour she would question us to see if we remember.
We rarely remembered. At noon, she would send us to sleep while she rested always bossy and sweet all at once.
I see where my father gets his personality.
It felt like knowing her for the first time. Now that I am older, I am able to capture her essence better than when I was ten or from all the stories ever told by my parents.
I had the opportunity to also reconnect with cousins I hadn’t spoken to in a while.
I had a cousin who drove us on our last week everyday to SeaSweet, a thirty minute drive, so we could enjoy some freshly made knafeh and Arabic ice cream.
We were able to explore a bit of Beirut when our grandmother would let us go.
She hadn’t seen us in so long, like us she wanted to spend every hour together.
I remember one time our cousin invited us to the movies and when he arrived to pick us up he got into an argument with my grandmother because she said we didn’t want to go with him that we traveled all the way to Lebanon to be with her.
It was a funny dispute and quickly solved with a kiss, a hug and a promise that we will see her in just a few hours.
We had a one day excursion where we visited multiple landmarks in Beirut.
Beautiful breath-taking places.
We visited the Jeita Grotto, in the north of Beirut; it is the longest cave in the Middle East.
The Jeita Grotto is two limestone caves connected there’s an upper and lower grotto. During the winter it gets so cold that they close of the lower grotto.
Unfortunately, pictures were not allowed and we had to check in all phones and cameras before entering the caves.
We had the chance to visit Byblos, a beautiful city filled with so much architecture.
We visited the town of Harissa, where the shrine for Our Lady of Lebanon is located.
It was a very successful trip, although not long enough. When the date of our departure arrived we were sad to go. Not knowing when we would be able to come back and spend time with our family again.
All images © 2000-2016 Antonella Nakfour.