Our friends Kristina and Pritham are visiting from the U.S. I'm up bright and early and about to make some fo'ul for breakfast but a few quick highlights from yesterday. First, and this connects to the fo'ul, walking from Eshmoun back to Saida we passed by a farm with huge greenhouses and Pritham sort of wandered onto the compound. We told him that, given the barbed wire, maybe visiting wasn't a good idea, but of course we're talking about not only Lebanon, but *south* Lebanon...so the hospitality is almost overwhelming. Sure enough, a couple guys from the farm came out and gave us a "faddul" (more or less: "please come in"), so we walked around their greenhouses to check out the operations. Really beautiful operation, especially the tomatoes, which they had vining on/around twine that ran from the ground to the greenhouse ceiling. They insisted I fill my backpack with the largest fava bean pods (thus the fo'ul for breakfast today) I've ever seen. And they invited us to stay and smoke some shisha with them but it certainly would have turned into a three-hour affair, thereby making us miss the last bus north. Also, I had pretty much exhausted my entire Arabic vocabulary already.
Back on the coastal road, we went to get the best ice cream in Lebanon. I should say that most ice cream places here encourage you to mix up as many flavors as possible in your cup. So even if you get a small, you can get tiny spoons of five, six, seven flavors. Lovely. Waiting in "line"--which in the middle east usually means mass of humanity in blob formation--a guy named Hassan (or "Hank, my American name") struck up a conversation. Turns out he lived in Ohio for thirty years and is now back home in his village outside Saida. I told him I taught in Dearborn and he said, "Oh, Bint Jbeil, Michigan." He's obviously familiar with Dearborn. So now after a nice talk about ice cream we have a standing invitation to visit Hank's village. Hopefully that will happen sometime soon.
K & P enjoyed wandering around Saida. We spent most of the day wandering in the old city, having some delicious fish, and chatting up the priest at the old Greek Orthodox church in the souks, who wants Nicole and I to go back to Saida for Easter Mass (Catholic and Orthodox Easters fall on the same day this year).