From Santa Fe to Bloudan
We had our reasons to be excited at home. Spring’s in the air. Blue skies, a gentle breeze and a mellow weather connived in making the outdoors ever more appealing. Fares’ birthday coinciding with the prophet’s (Mawlid Nabawi), Mother’s Day, the weekend and Easter joined together in a fine 5-day holiday bouquet. Our new Hyundai Santa Fe had just received her maiden carwash. She looked and smelled fantastic, eager to take us all on a thrilling journey around the picturesque Tartous countryside.
Then I got a call. I had to attend a 3-day workshop from the 19th till the 21st. Working well through the last couple of nights, I completed the required set of drawings and plans (45 in total) and headed to Bloudan in a minibus with a whole bunch of young colleagues. Leaving behind my disappointed family, missing my boy’s birthday for the 2nd year in a row and not getting a chance to enjoy the ride in my brand new SUV, I could only console myself in the prospect of visiting Bloudan after all these years.
It’s been 30 years. It was my last week in
I was a little thwarted when I almost couldn’t find my grandpa’s. It took a huge amount of luck, calm moments of memory resurgence plus my normally acute navigational skills to finally stand in front of its main gate. What was a solitary house with a large manicured garden around it has become a prisoner among a row of faceless houses, too close for comfort and all vying for that panoramic view of the valley and the mountains beyond.
The valley was filled with trees, apple, cherry, prune, almond, apricot, peach, plum and pear.
I strolled up the winding road at 6 in the morning, looking for something familiar but not finding any. Then on the front terrace of the hotel, while everybody was still fast asleep I closed my eyes yet again to render the original image back to life. My chagrin over the heavy loss of the olive and orange trees of Tartous was mirrored in Bloudan. I imagined myself a native of this once splendid little town returning from a faraway place after a 30 year absence. How will he cope with the vanishing of thousands of rainbow trees and vibrant foliage, how will he survive the devastating cancerous spread and takeover of concrete? He will shed a tear in vain, pack again and leave like I did on my third and final day.I climbed behind the wheel of the silver