Okay, so my flight was held up in Istanbul for 3 hours for undisclosed reasons, but there was still one taxi driver hanging around Beirut International Airport when I finally touched down. I was on the verge of passing out, and the heat always sends my questionable social skills hurtling towards the autistic end of the spectrum, but I still tried to break out the old haggling technique:
Me: American University please
Driver: AUB? Sure
Me: How much?
Driver: 30 dollars
Me: Could you do 20?
Me: Tough day?
Driver then sparks a Marlboro red, slams the boot and drives the 7 miles to AUB in about 4 minutes, seriously, Jason Bourne has nothing on this guy. My favourite bit was undertaking a Range Rover on a single lane ramp heading up to an overpass round a sharp blind bend.
Its now about half 2 in the morning at the goods entrance of AUB, where I will be studying towards an MA in Middle Eastern Studies this year, alongside other things. I have to persuade the guards to let me in. Salim, the watchman finds out that I’m from England and I shamelessly pretend to be a Man United fan, which seals the deal and I’m in. Its humid and atmospheric, with an army of mewling kittens patrolling a walled-off campus that is thick with drooping shrubbery. A 2 minute walk and I’m one T-shirt down in sweat outside the residence where I’m staying for 5 days until I sort out a flat. Thats another problem for another day.
Sana (I hopeless guess the spelling at this stage) is very sweet but she’s only just started working here and it is nearly 3 in the morning. I’m supposed to be in room 724, which is beyond room 722 and next to room 729. Its eerily locked from the inside. Sana is sorry, and I am eventually led to room 635, I don’t think anyone else is on this floor, there aren’t any bed sheets to speak of and the air con is broken. ‘Its fine, don’t worry!’ I say. I kind of regret not being more of an asshole 12 hours later but never mind.
I’m woken up a few hours later, curled up on my towel, by the local muezzin doing his thing, and discover I have an amazing view out into the Med. A speedboat zips past. On go the sunglasses, lets see what this whole Beirut thing is about.
Highlight of the day: Pegasus Airlines’ Turkish-dancing themed safety video
Low-point: Selling out my beloved Ipswich Town Football Club
Beautiful Lebanese Girl forecast: none spotted
Sweeping Orientalist statement: Life is cheap on Arab roads