It’s been ages since I last went out with these guys. I got this phone call from an old friend, an army buddy of mine. He told me that he’s sitting in his office with yet a third friend and that they were just talking about me. Am I busy or engaged? If not, he said, why won’t we go out and have lunch together at his summer home in Kamsieh. I really was doing nothing special at the time and I hailed the idea. I drove to his office, picked them up and together we went for a little shopping. We bought the tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, onions, lettuce and hot peppers. We passed by Abu Omar, the butcher, and ordered 2 kilos of tender and juicy lamb meat, fit for shish kebob (La7me Meshwieh). My friend assured us that he already had the best homemade olive oil and Arak around. So we snaked our way to the little Village of Kamsieh, 32 km northeast of Tartous.
It was much cooler than the city. The house lies on a 650 meter hill and was still deserted waiting for my friends’ two kids to finish their Baccalaureat and Brevet. No time to waste, we lit the fire, cleaned the veggies, prepared the meat and started drinking by the little shed out in the back. We sat in the shade, ate and drank for 5 hours. Slowly and with compassion, we barbecued the meat and sipped the Arak. We talked about “yesterday”, 18 years ago when we served in the Army together. We asked about lost acquaintances, reminisced over favorite stories and thawed frozen instances of the past. It all went well; although toward the end our speech became a little sluggish, our sight a little blurred.
There we were, 3 stooges on the theater of life, watching it goes by in haste. What’s the point in leading successful careers, going to and fro, waking up early, sleeping up late, worrying, tiring but not being smart enough to stop, take a respite and smell the… barbecued meat and the Arak every once in a while.
Time has slowed down that afternoon in Kamsieh over the hill. It has provided me with a better perspective to peek at every day’s life with a little more relaxed attitude. In our restless quest for wider horizons and further prospects, we often tend to ignore what lies here, barely beyond our own backyard. We dream of the exotic places we wish to visit but we each forget that there is a Kamsieh, scarcely afar from our consciousness. We vowed to make it some other time, and soon.
I wouldn’t be surprised though if next time we meet we wouldn’t talk about this lunch as if it happened “yesterday”, 18 years in our past.
Kamsieh is a beautiful and quiet village, perfect weather in the summer, a little bit on the cold side in the winter. Many small traditional restaurants before, at and after you reach the village. All serve good barbecued chicken/meat and mezza. Great scenery and low prices.
Driving Directions (Tartous – Kamsieh): Total Distance 32 km. Take The Lattakia Hwy and drive North for 15 km. Take the right exit marked Kamsieh. Drive due East for a short distance till you reach the old Tartous-Lattakia road. Make a left turn toward Markieh and drive for about 2 km on the old road. Follow the Kamsieh sign to the right and climb up the mountains (~15 km) passing through: Markieh, Bdayra, Saya, Blawzeh, Kamso Then Kamsieh.