Six Reasons Summer in Lebanon Can Be God-Awful

“Summertime is always the best of what might be,” wrote Charles Bowden, American author and journalist. F. Scott Fitzgerald postulated that life begins “over again with the summer.” And William Shakespeare, in one of his sonnets, attempted to compare woman’s beauty to “a summer’s day.”

Clearly, they’d never experienced summer in Lebanon. Sure, it’s the season of reunions, as relatives and friends pour in from overseas. The air is laced with love, weddings dotting every hour of every day and every week. And nature’s finest fruit – watermelon, cherries, and peaches – offer themselves liberally unto us.

But that’s where the fun and frolic end. Here are six reasons why I can’t stand summers around these Mediterranean parts.

The family pool at one of Byblos' famous beach resorts

The heat. It gets ridiculously hot in Lebanon, from the seashore to the mountainside, in city dwellings to remote village abodes. For more than four months, the air is thick with humidity, and antiperspirant sticks can't fend it off. Just accept that you’ll have disgusting sweat stains around your armpits, and that you’ll need to shower morning and night to fight the filth.

Traffic gridlock. You thought once schools let out for the summer, traffic would ease up. No more buses, no more parents shuttling their kids back and forth to every school-related function. But no. Summers are far worse for traffic, as the influx of tourists and expats creates impossible impasses at all hours of the day. Even in the middle of the night, you’re bound to hit pockets of traffic along major highways connecting north and south Lebanon.

Everything is busy. With the floods of visitors inundating our tiny 10,452 square kilometers of space, every establishment throbs with noisy life. Restaurants are fully booked around the clock. Malls are teeming with folks escaping the heat, friends reuniting over coffee, and customers hunting after ungratifying summer sales. And beach resorts are anything but soothing and tranquil. It’s all about high decibels and jam-packed venues.

Reduced business hours. Banks close an hour or two earlier than usual. Some restaurants slice out lunch from their daily mealtime offering. Even churches eliminate several mass times, as parishioners retreat to the seaside and mountain escapes.

Electricity outages. Why would blackouts vary according to the season? In March, 10 amps of moteur-generated electricity in Jal el Dib ran us LBP 100,000 ($67). Fast forward to June, when our bill multiplied nearly three-fold to a whopping LBP 280,000 ($187). Further, there’s a dearth of water in the summer when supposedly, municipalities sell their precious supplies to beach resorts and leave residents to rely on despicable cisterns.

Wedding season. Possibly the most loathsome of summer fixtures is the wedding. It’s already a scorcher, and your makeup is guaranteed to melt off, but couples inexplicably hustle to lock in summer dates for their weddings – go figure! Wedding venues up their rates in the peak summer season, because why not exploit the high demand? Male guests have to suit up in sweat-conducive tuxes. Female guests have to secure brand new gowns for each soiree because social media would give them away otherwise. And don’t forget the visit to the hair salon and esthetician to get wedding-ready. Should I whisper the words liste de mariage in your ear? If you receive a few wedding invitations in one month, expect to be penniless days after you cash out your paycheck. At least you’ll have an excuse to avoid pricey beach resorts!

What's your beef with summers in Lebanon? Chime in!


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