This is like a diary board of a trip, I wrote it to fix in the memory a magic place and an unforgetable bunch of smiling faces I’ve met there.
Fortunately I’ve never been in Israel because I’d never get a visa to enter Lebanon. So, I feel so lucky to have been there and I really hope to come back in the future.
I had the chance to travel to Lebanon because the City of Venice, and his Office for Youth Policies planned a cultural exchange for a long time, in collaboration with Tyre‘s Municipality and UNDP, so they called Cyros and I for a workshop about writing and graffiti. We took off to Tyre (Sour) from Venice with Elisa, Lupo and Francesca,who where involved in a workshop about theater with puppets made of reused stuff.
Tyre, which was added to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, is a small town with ancient history placed in a bay kissed by the Mediterranean Sea, cradle of the Phoenician, Roman and Byzantine civilizations: the newest part of Tyre is born around the old acropolis and harbor and many archaeological excavations are visibile everywhere.
Tyre municipality is owned mainly by the Hezbollah political party, that controls the region, and its economy is based for the most part on fishing and cultural tourism. Despite their necessity people live with happiness, in big families with plenty of kids that play in the small streets of the old town, sometimes playing with sweet cats and stray dogs.
Food was really good and healthy: fresh fish, arab bread, hummus, super salads with all types of local spices. The best place to eat was at Tony’s, an one-table restaurant without kitchen, that used to go and cook the fish in the adjacent restaurant.
Tyre’s suk is exactly the kind of street market you’d expect from an ancient Middle East city: colours and flavours that changing at every corner.
Tyre has a great problem with energy and water subsistence: water supply tanks were bombed during the frequent wars, and the water distribution system is inadequate. Big noisy generators fueled by diesel supply electricity to all the city, and in the afternoon voltage dips and power outages are common. Eh eh…electricians are not welcome here!
Far from the center, at the frontline with Israel it’s possible to find Palestinian refugee camps, where hundreds of people live and struggle there since many years, but without any recognition of civil rights. Check points are present in all connecting roads.
Thanks to school, internet and the melting pot exchange, young generations, despite their parents, are growing with strong knowledge, studying a lot, learning new languages, travelling; the best resource in Lebanon, in my opinion, is the school system and the will of redemption of the youths.
Many motivated students have enrolled in the workshop, few of them came from Tyre, many other from small villages nearby: more girls than boys. I can’t remember all their names, so I don’t mention even one not to upset anyone; The workshop consisted in bringing out the individual skills of the students, sharing a bit of history and techniques of graffiti writing, and learning how to draw a throw-up and a simple masterpiece.
First part of the workshop was held in a beautiful building of Tyre Administration: we had an interpreter, but after a few hours our students started to translate from English to Arab. We spent 3 days in a really friendly atmosphere waiting to go outside and paint.
The last 2 days were spent together with students at the walls, to paint the collective “Future” masterpiece and…
…to help us italians to do our thing in front of the sea.
Painting there was not so simple: it’s not enough having the permission from the major, but we had to reach a compromise with armed groups that manage and divide the territory. It was a great problem to find any sort of good spray cans: we were forced to use Safari, a spraycan produced in China, with a smiling camel logo, with less than 200 ml of watery paint inside: worst paint ever seen in my life. Roll paint was the solution for the fillings…
In Tyre there were not graffiti writers: it was only possible to find drawings made with coal, representing women with Islamic veil.
Last day we moved to Beirut by bus. I’ve never been before in the Middle East before, nor in any Arab country: I was surprised how Capitalism is not refused there as I thought before: in Beirut you can find a high concentration of reinforced concrete and smog, with big ads on buildings, super cars like Hummer, Wal Mart and Beretta stores, Mc Donalds and KFC. A city that is growing and growing…
A trip, cities and people I can’t forget.