The Best Vacation Ever!

December 19, 2011
By lebanesegirl BRONZE, Melbourne, Florida
lebanesegirl BRONZE, Melbourne, Florida
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Imagine that after nine years of not seeing your hometown, you go back and get caught in a war. Well, believe it or not, this is what happened to my family and me. But let me start from the very beginning, with the happy memories.

As a little child, my parents and I used to go to Lebanon every three years. But as I grew older, we were not able to go as often, especially with the fact that my parents own a restaurant and were always busy. We did not miss our family back home that much because they would continuously come down and visit us, so we at least got to see our family from back home, even if we did not go. Regardless, I still missed my country. I missed the social life, friends, nature, and amazing climate there.

In the beginning of the summer of 2006, my parents had decided to take a vacation to Lebanon. My sister and I were very excited because, although we had been before, we didn’t remember much. After 24 anxious hours of boarding planes, we had arrived in Lebanon. When we had gathered our luggage, we found our entire family waiting for us outside. There were four cars filled with 15 people outside anticipating our arrival. After the many rounds of hugs and kisses, they took us to my grandparents’ house.

When we walked inside, all we saw was the feast my aunt has prepared for us. First she brought out the appetizers such as homos (humus) and falafel. Then, she brought out all our favorite dishes, like stuffed cabbage and eggplant. What surprised us the most is that she had also prepared one of my dads’ favorite fish dish. It took a couple of hours to prepare, but she prepared all this food with love and care. Being in my hometown for a few hours, it was then that I finally believed this was all real and not a dream. After we ate dessert, my cousins and I went outside and talked for hours. It had been an exhausting day so I was glad when everyone left so I could sleep.

The next week, all we did was visit family. All of my mother’s family is back in Lebanon so, of course, we had to see them. The only family my father has in Lebanon are his cousins, so after we spent a couple of days with my mom’s relatives we traveled to my dad’s side of the family. Although I didn’t have a blast visiting people I’ve never met before, I still enjoyed listening to stories about my parents and how they were “back in the day.” My favorite part of the trip was visiting the many tourist attractions. We visited many places, religious and non-religious. Harissa, the statue of the Virgin Mary known as “Our Lady of Lebanon,” was the first place we went to followed by Jeita, a cave naturally made from water where you can walk as far in as you would like and see the many shapes and forms of the stalagmites and stalactites. We also visited the convents of the Lebanese saints and prayed in the chapels. I personally thanked God for allowing me the chance to experience my hometown, in a calm manner.

But, I spoke too soon. One week before we were supposed to come back to Florida, which was the beginning of our third week stay, a war broke out between Israel and Hezbollah in the south of Lebanon. It started when the Israeli army kidnapped two people from Hezbollah's team. Then, to take revenge, Hezbollah’s army kidnapped two people from the Israeli army. The news of the war was all over the media and it was said that it could turn into World War Three. The Israelis were bombing the entire south part of Lebanon. They bombed Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, and also the south of Beirut because the headquarters of Hezbollah were stationed there. The Israelis bombed tall buildings, and killed innocent people and children, day and night. Their goal was to completely paralyze Hezbollah so they could lose all their power. For that reason, they had also bombed all the important roads, bridges, ports, and the airport (which is located in Beirut) so Hezbollah couldn’t get any outside help by air, water, or land. Due to these circumstances, we couldn’t leave Lebanon, and were trapped there for an extra week.

We were calling my family in Florida to tell them about our situation, we were okay, and that we were planning to escape, but of course they were still very worried about us. “What luck,” they would say, “to go back home after nine years and get stuck there because of a war.” They were telling us to be very careful and just stay home, but of course, we were still going to places, but only in the safe areas. It was not scary to be in Lebanon during the war because you knew where to go and where not to go depending on the areas that were being bombed. The only way we were going to be able to get out of the country was to drive through Lebanon and go to Syria, which is the neighboring country in the north of Lebanon.

In order to be able to do that, we had to rent a taxi that knew a safe route that would get us to Jordan. We ended up driving through Syria and continued north as well, because it wasn’t really safe for us to stay there. I was a little scared because Israel happened to be bombing the border between Syria and Lebanon that day. But, we got through safe and sound. We drove for thirteen hours to get to Jordan, and stayed there for a week and waited for the next flight back to the United States. Of course, we didn’t waste any time there. We went site-seeing and visited important holy places like the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized, Mount Nibbo, where Moses held the cane that turned into a snake, and the Dead Sea. These places are ones that many people dream to visit, and I experienced by chance. The stay in Jordan was very nice and we had as much fun there as we did in Lebanon.

When we finally arrived in Florida, I spent three days crying because I wanted to go back to what I consider as my home country. Even though my country has a lot of problems and conflicts, even till today, I still love it very much and will never forget it. After all, it is my country. Being there during a time of war made me realize how much I really love it, and I became more attached to it. I saw all the problems the country faces and my heart felt for it and unquestionably more for the people living there. Even after everything we saw there from the war, my family and I continue to go back home as often as possible and every time we go back, I become fonder of it. One of my future dreams is to go back home for good and live there. Most people who go to a country and get stuck there or mistreated during a time of war never want to put foot back in that country. They are terrorized to go back and fear that something is going to happen while they are there, but I feel the total opposite.

The vacation we experienced in the summer of 2006 is one that was excellent and will definitely never be forgotten. Regardless of the war, conflicts, troubles, and issues back in my country, we still had the time of our lives there, filled with many memories. Not many teenagers can say that they have been on an adventure, let alone a war! After not going on vacation for nine years, we went on two vacations in one summer. I consider that summer to be an adventurous one more than a scary one.

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