March 14, 2020
Yesterday we moved to another bubble where we continue to scape reality. We left the apartment yesterday, Saturday, morning and drove to El Kfour, a village in the mountains north of Beirut that overlooks the bay of Jounieh. We are staying at Beit Trad – Guest House. It used to be the summer house of the owner’s family; a hideaway during the civil war. He now hosts those who, like us, want to spend a couple of days without doing much. It is a place to play board games, read, and write. It has an eclectic decor; a melange of bohemian, farm house, and shabby chick, each space with its own voice. You pay for room and board and they take really good care of you. Yesterday we also ordered a bottle of Champagne which is not included — Marina was allowed to have one full glass —, but otherwise they serve all the spirits and wine you want. By 11pm I had had too many and went to bed.
This morning, after breakfast we went for hike. After we came back we installed ourselves in the living room where I have been typing this. In the meantime, the Lebanese economy continues to tank. The exchange rate has reached 12,000 Lebanese Liras per dollar. It used to be 1,500 before the financial crisis, so a 700% devaluation. And there is still no government to even start thinking about how to fix things. There ares some protests here and there but nothing major. The central bank will soon run out of reserves and won’t be able to import food let alone the fuel that generates more than half of the electricity that the country consumes — and that remains highly subsidized. This morning we filled the tank with less than 50,000 Liras, aka 4 bucks. We have a small Kia but still, the price of two gallons in the US.
I came up with an interesting article by the writer Horatio Clare: “There is no cure for being you or me.” The article is actually based on a book he wrote about his experience dealing with psychosis and subsequent treatments. He argues that cognitive therapies are better, at least for him, than treatments with drugs which have many side effects including suicidal ideation and sudden death. He writes that doctors and researchers working in the new therapies contend that “ hallucinations and delusions are simply ways for dealing with unbearable experiences for which the sufferer has no other language.” Practitioners treat delusions as metaphors to be talked through, without prejudice or judgement, and wit minimal medications. My father is a psychiatrist who had to treat many patients suffering from psychosis, a couple in the family. They were treated as if they had a mental problem when it would seem their brain was, actually, functioning well, just trying to help them deal with whatever was causing them pain.
Last weekend I bought tickets for Marina and I to travel to the US. We are flying via Doha in Qatar airways. I will spend a week in Washington DC and from there travel to St Martin where Antares is waiting. The plan is to finally sail to Grenada with stops in Guadeloupe, Dominica, and Martinique. I have given myself three full weeks. It should be plenty to prepare the boat (a lot of work to do), provision, and then sail south taking some time to visit the islands and enjoy sunsets at anchor. I hope nothing unexpected happens between now and then and that the COVID situation doesn’t deteriorate.