Playing Cards in Lebanon

I´ve always liked playing cards. I love everything the good feeling when you pick the card you desperately need and the taste for competition. Cards are associated with late afternoons on the beach – my mom loves playing cards too – or sleepovers with my friends. I admit I was never a cool chick.

But for sure I will not forget playing card in GVC guesthouse last Saturday night.

It was my first weekend in Bekaa Valley, and being the day so sunny and hot, we had planned to go to the swimming pool. It all went so fast: swimming pool, security SMSs, lots of phone calls, local people staring at the hills with the binoculars and the consequent decision to leave on the next morning, as a precautionary matter. In the previous weeks there had been already some shelling on the mountains between Lebanon and Syria, especially in the area of Arsal, but this time we understood that something different was going on.

Then a very loud noise, like a jet taking off. Definitely a rocket, and very close. My heart starts to pound. I try to remember the security procedures. Then another one. I can also see it, a flash in the sky, a frightful and brighter shooting star.  Some rocket launchers have been placed in the small military base in the outskirts of our village. They shoot towards Arsal. Luckily they are not firing back. Some of us bring camp beds to the basement. It is safer to spend the night there. Others prepare some dinner or make coffee. Better to have something to do. I wonder how people can bear something like that. Can you possibly get used to it? We are not even targeted, and I feel frozen. Every fifteen or twenty minute a few rockets are shot. When everything is set, pasta has been eaten and candles are close at hand, there is nothing to do but to wait for the next morning. It is probably around nine. No chance to sleep now. We are too upset, and it is too early anyway.

So my colleague and I agree to play a few rounds of cards. With seemingly regular frequency rockets are still being shot. The sound is frightening. We can hear the return fire, luckily far from us. I lose nearly all the rounds we played. I struggle to concentrate to the game, but it calms me down a little.

The night passed really slowly, the sleep was never too deep. When finally the morning arrived, everything was silent around us. No more shelling. The last coffee and then off to Qadisha Valley, much safer and far from the troubles.

The clashes go on for around four days, especially in the municipality of Arsal, then an agreement is reached between the parties. Damages are appalling, both for Lebanese and Syrian families living there.

After a week we are back in Jdeideh.