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Hanging out

A day in Saida

SAIDA | - August 14, 2013, 11h14
Par François Huguet
 Sidon sea Castle Saida

Heading south to spend a day strolling in Saida. Impressions of a journey felt with every scenery or face met across the old roads of the city.

The noise coming from the minibus disappeared, or at least lowered a bit to match the landing rhythm in the city of Saida, and the silent walls of the fortress that appeared right in front of us, emerging from the sea. 

We’ve been driving for almost an hour now. Our trip began at Beirut’s “Cola” stop point at 11.00 o’clock this Saturday morning. A short while before leaving, we’ve been browsing the “organic” market of Saifi village, next to the Martyr Square.

And now, the sea is in front of us, the mountain of waste lying in it, the sky above. Rafik Hariri is everywhere: Saida is the hometown of the late Lebanese Prime Minister assassinated in 2005.

A look at “Lonely Planet” shows a bulk of information:
“Saida : more than 200000 citizens + around 100000 Palestinian refugees in the south camp of the city. “Phoenician” a well-known word of the Greek Antiquity comes from the Greek “Phoimis”. It means “purple” a dye extracted from the Murex Brandaris shell and used to tint fabrics, their main export product. At that time Sidon was famous for its purple dye and glass manufacturing. It is said that after kidnapping the beautiful Helene, Paris the Trojan passed by when escaping. 

Between the Souk and the Soap Museum

Khan El Franj,12:43. It seems more authentic than Beirut, more real.

Loud cries at the souk announcing prices, bargains and smells of fish and then…all of a sudden, smells of orange blossom, anis and fresh bread took over smells of frying.

No dyeing all around but a maze full of all kinds of craftsmen. 

Carpenters, sculptors, tailors, snacks, upholsterers, gadget sellers, etc…

A giant pelican stands like a talisman on a fisherman stall. 

Saida Downtown, 13:50. Out of the Soap Museum with a sudden envy of Hammam

Envy of perfumed mousses.

A little bit further we bumped into panel-beaters.

A stop at “mozz be laban” next to a Sunnite mosque and an UNRWA school.
A glass of wine with Mazen and Dima

Hurrying up, we go drink a red Kefraya with Mazen and Dima whom I met an hour ago.

Exchange. Sharing. Laughs.

Treasure hunt in old Saida to find the Andalusian look lodging where Olivier lives. It’s an old convent managed by Katya and Amin, just next to Khan El Franj. Next to this old church whose bell tower could be seen from the WC window, the muezzin praise “Allah” The Great and His Prophet Mahomet.

I close my eyes. I Smell the sea spray, the heat of the South.

The next day, I try not to forget that I’m going back to Beirut, before 18.30 if I want to catch a minibus. I’ll keep for long in my eyes the colors of Sidon, in my nose the smell of its Mediterranean, in my ears the rumbling of the sea, the songs of muezzins and the non-stop cries of its souk sellers. 

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