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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Pigeon Rocks of Raouché (الروشة)

The Pigeon Rocks are the most iconic of all of Beirut's many rocks.  Really, they're just big rocks with little holes in them that pigeons happen to like sitting on, but they're pretty none the less. 
Pigeon Rocks
An old building, maybe a restaurant, that would have had beautiful views jutting out over the water.  Now, it appears to be abandoned and the grass around it is covered with litter. 
Looking uphill at a mosque and street corner near the Hard Rock Cafe from the Corniche
Underneath that plastic sheet is bread, transported around the city and sold off of the same bicycle
The rocks are in the West Beirut district of Raouché along the coast. 
Colorful facade in Raouché
You can view the rocks if you stroll down the Beirut Corniche
Beirut Corniche
A movable coffee house, right along the Corniche. I did not partake. 
My friends and bf along the Corniche

But I found that it was a nice little adventure for the slightly athletic to actually climb down to the water's edge.  Along the way, you'll see colorful boats, cafes with too few customers, an odd construction site for building odd concrete bulwarks, people trying to sell you boat rides around the rocks in any language or price of your choosing, and, to my surprise, a site run by a few army men, who will indeed chase down the oblivious white girl for taking pictures of anything she maybe wasn't supposed to be taking pictures of.**  To descend to the water, you can either follow a long gravel road past the somewhat perturbed militants, or you can cut down paths through tall grass across from the Starbucks and Second Cup.  

I would be quite happy to order a coffee from this little cafe, but it was way to hot and I had just walked way too far for that

Feeding rounds of Lebanese bread to the fish

Near the water, Martin and I stopped to take some pictures.  I noticed an Arab man backing up to take a picture of his wife, and in Arabic asked if he would like me to take a picture of both of them.  The couple was very appreciative.  They spoke no English but told me they were from Iraq and asked about the tall, deceptively un-Arab man next to me.  They invited us to lunch, even though we'd just met, and only one of us spoke Arabic (and even that is generous).  We declined and instead, the man motioned for his wife to come over and took the large water bottle she'd been drinking from to give us, to the dismay of the thirsty wife.  We politely argued, but apparently Iraqis are quite adamant about giving their water to pale strangers and we could do nothing but accept the water and inconspicuously toss it at a nearby cafe.  To the Iraqi couple, Thank you very much for your water, but seeing as you'd been drinking from the same bottle all day, our American germophobic selves couldn't possibly keep it, and I hope you understand.

**I would actually be stopped by the army/police multiple times on this trip for taking pictures of the wrong things, usually pretty or historic buildings that also happened to be government offices or where the army likes to house it's billion tanks.  Each time, the officer would be very polite and relieved that I understood them and wasn't looking for trouble.  I'd hold up the camera and show them the pictures I took, and they would check them and tell me which to delete, which I'd do in front of them.  Each time it was a friendly encounter and actually kind of nice for me, since I got to practice a bit of Arabic each time, not that I recommend tempting a foreign army just to work on your conversational language skills.  

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Troy, AL, United States
I am a Political Science student at Troy University in southeastern Alabama. I have been given fantastic opportunities to travel to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, among other brief trips, to study and glimpse other cultures. I believe there is much to be learned about other people while studying, and I want to share my experiences with you.