Text and photographs by Charbel Torbey
It’s 7pm on the 7th of July 2011. The weather is very hot and dry outside as the bus carrying enthusiastic people from Beirut arrives at the International Festival of Baalbeck. The bus drops us far from the citadel (where the play would take place) so we had to walk through the narrow streets of Baalbeck.
I take some photos of the busy market and the shops. The locals were welcoming and friendly enough, but cautious in front of the stranger with a camera – politics has left its mark here.
The restaurant owners speak almost every international language. They invite our group to drop by and try a delicious meal or a simple sandwich for the road. They didn’t get many customers, but they were still smiling.
As people started walking towards the stage, I preferred to wait for the play to start outside. I took some photos here and there before entering an old souk that surprisingly enough was empty, but very well-renovated. It appeared as if the city was busy everywhere else but here. Small cafés not far from the citadel were serving all kinds of drinks, but the out-of-town visitors were not here, except for this one French man sitting at a table reading a book under the fading light of the sun and enjoying a cold glass of beer.
I hear an announcement and my friends rush me to catch the play before it starts. I left the streets of Baalbeck for another adventure inside the Citadel to see the play, but this time unfortunately deprived of my camera by the security men..
* See more of Charbel’s work here *