One of our short trips in Lebanon was to Saida, known historically as Sidon. It is by the Mediterranean and had great snacks.
It also has a souq, which has become a refugee camp for Palestinians and, more recently, for Syrians fleeing the engulfing violence of their homelands. It was a beautiful and disturbing place to visit.
Some parts of the souq reminded me of other souqs I’ve been to in Doha and Cairo–a narrow, free-for-all marketplace, though this one was closed when we went by.
But the difference soon became clear, when the lights cut out again and again–apparently electricity is inconsistent for the hundreds of people who live in the closet-and-NYC-efficiencies-without-doors in the Saida souq.
With flash, it’s possible to see the stonework and archways that were common throughout the space.
When the electricity came on, there were lights in some places in the ground.
Weeks later I figured out why I was so scared when all of the lights went down–doesn’t this look like the beginning of a Diablo II mission?
When the lights were on, the souq showed evidence of thriving trade. When Mom asked permission to take this man’s photograph, he gave it and said: “Maybe if she likes me she’ll take me back to America with her.” Photo credit Katy Dickinson
Others in the Saida souq practiced less traditional but no less lucrative professions. Photo credit: Katy Dickinson
Intermingled with the photo studios and vegetable stalls were old monasteries and mosques. Photo credit: Katy Dickinson.
“Gaza Lane” for families who have fled Gaza to live in this centuries-old market place, where none of the “apartments” I saw had doors, coverings on the stone walls, or consistent electricity. I don’t know about the plumbing, but I have my doubts.
We had coffee by candlelight in a famous hotel, Hotel Yacoub, which exists inside the souq.
I saw you across the river Jordan
Mother mamma waam
I’ve been listening to you
So close and yet so far away
I’ve never stopped hearing your words
Since that Easter morning
It is now in very clear
That the meaning of your last”–River Jordan