Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Beautiful Port

A thick stench of oil, heavy in the stagnant stifling air of August.
As I approached the small port, the Dalieh port, I heard the sound of shouting. I couldn’t actually hear what he was saying and I thought it was someone angry that we were in the area. As I got closer I realized it was a fisherman screaming his head off.

‘Where is the government? Where are they? What do we do? We have been unable to fish for the past three weeks. They give food to all the refugees but who will feed us now? Who cares about us?’

He was a tall well-built man with white hair and a strong Beiruti accent. Abou Othman has been a fisherman all his life. His life was the sea. And now it had been taken away.

As I looked at the scene around me I was amazed at the extent of the damage. This small port is tucked away near Rouche. It is very small and can easily be missed as it lies below a short cliff face. One has to descend by stairs to reach the port level. The site of the port today was depressing. A whole fleet of beautiful small fishing boats, known locally as ‘Flukas’, had oil-covered hulls and the beauty of the brightly painted boats was lost underneath dirty black and the once clear blue water was now black and viscous. The ropes of the boats were all covered with oil as well and all I could think was ‘Oh my God, how will this ever be cleaned'. One of the boats had a Lebanese flag attached to it. I watched it flutter for an endless moment.

Abou Othman had watched the oil slowly make its way into the inlet three weeks ago. He waited, day after day, watching the oil get thicker and thicker. He waited for the government to send someone to clean it. And he waited and waited. There was nothing he could do but watch, and as he watched his country being bombed he watched his livelihood slipping away too. I discovered from him that a few courageous fishermen had braved the Israeli bombing to go out to sea and fish, but all they had achieved for their efforts was an oil-destroyed net and an oil-polluted boat.

‘We cannot go out in our boats to fish because we are scared the Israelis will bomb us, even if we do fish who will buy the fish? Who will eat it? They will all think it is deadly and poisonous now…’ continued Abou Othman.

I found myself nodding helplessly because deep down I knew that the government, or the ministry of environment or anyone would not help him. The problem is that he is a poor fisherman with no marketing pull. He is not a big hotel with endless resources. He is not a big shot politician who has bought part of the coast. He is just an old fisherman who wanted to fish, fix his nets and live peacefully by the sea. You should hear the stories he can tell...about how certain things got their names...about myths and dreams of the sea...the knowledge he has about the sea is astounding...its wildlife...and its temperament...everything.

As I left, walking up the stairs, I saw an old man sitting in a house close to the port. The smell of the oil had filled the house.
I asked him, ‘Why are you sitting inside this house sir? This smell is toxic, move to somewhere far away from this smell.’
He replied sadly, ‘I have nowhere else to go…’


Blogger yves said...

as usual, your writing is insightful and touching.

i wish i had something better or more worthwhile to say than just a compliment...but i guess i dont.

please know that your words are being read and thought about.

can i ask a question? maybe something you can talk about in a future blog...? what is the general mood there, now that the bombs have stopped? is a threat still present? how is the food, fuel and water situation?

just curious

take care

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Anonymous Jenna said...

Very sad...
reminded me of an old grandma I met as I first moverd to the US. She was Bosnian and I was translating... somehow we got to talking about war and what will happen when she dies...she has lived through World war two, took care of her siblings,as their parents were killed in a bombing. Now she says my house is gone yet again...even when I die I never want to go back there again, there is nothing there...
kind of sad how older people put things in a perspective...

Love what you are writing, please keep on doing it.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

dear Rena,
we met in 2002 through a mutual friend and i just wanted you to know that i've been reading all your stories and i wished i could help. but i'm thinking of you, those fishermen and the sea and i wish you lots of strenth!
take care, Jolanda

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Blogger Robert said...

All has been calm across the sea from you in Marseille. My thoughts go out to you every day. I cannot understand why this could happen and I cannot understand how it must be to experience the situation. I CAN have empathy, I and many thousands of others are with you, you are not alone..

Keep writing, I will keep reading and telling others about your writing.

Click here for photo

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I whsih you peace and calm now...

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi Rena, today is the first day that i have read your comments. i have been reading Zena's (Beirutupdate)and yes it was because of her appearance on CNN. i never knew these sites existed.
each of your sites are filled with insights of the area and i am thankful for the chance to read them and learn. my grandfather was from Maghdouche and we have relatives there that we have not met or conversed with. i guess that is why this area is of special interest to me, this is not to say that where ever else tradgedy happens that i am less concerned, this is just special!
i have a concern about Zena and am wondering if you know anything? it has been several days since she has posted something and i am hoping it is just that she has been busy. would you or someone you may know be able to contact her? just to let her know we are starting to worry.

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Anonymous Wesley said...

Thankyou for your blog and its inspiring and touching account. I wish peace and love for you and your people.

Maybe a suggestion, that you could suggest some ways in your blog that people living in peaceful countries can help yours.

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Blogger The Human Product said...

1st, thanks for making your thoughts available online for us to read.

That is really touching, but isnt it the case of everyone. we do look at these cases now because there has been a war but didn’t we have this toxic air & people dying on the street before the war? i still remember the 17 years old girl 7 years ago who got shot in Tariq Jdide by mistake. She died on the gates of the hospital because of the problem with the social security. The oil in the see, why does Lebanon have the highest rate in Cancer in the ME with respect to its population?
I hated Israeli’s all my life but they did kill a thousand Lebanese & polluted the sea, what were we doing before?
The war is bad but we were worse and maybe its time we do really conceder every step we take & how is it affecting other people & try to see the enemy in us

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Take note that some Bingo houses don't allow food but some do, so it basically depends on the venue. Policies vary among different venues. For instance, some bingo halls allow reservation of cards, while others don't allow it. Some allow people to leave the venue in the middle of the game, others forbid it. But there are general policies observed in all bingo houses, such as disqualification of tampered bingo cards. There is no way you can get away with a tampered card because the walkers are adept at identifying authentic cards from tampered ones. You could be banned from a bingo establishment if proven liable of tampering a card. Hence, you should play honestly.

Interestingly, some venues offer special bingo games for kids although some halls don't allow players to have companions while playing. Suppose you bring kids with you, don't let them run around the venue and bother other gamers. They should behave well whilst you play and the game proceeds. Play quietly and don't recite the numbers you desperately want to come off because you'll be much of a disturbance if you do. Decorous playing is expectant of all players, even those who play roulette at casinos. Also, having a valid identification is important because you don't know you might win and need to present credentials.

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