As we buckle our seat belts I close my eyes. Partially out of exhaustion, partially to center myself. I look down at Maya, she is totally sprawled out on me in a rather uncomfortable way. I don’t dare move though, there is nothing worse than waking her, but I know soon it will be time.

I peer out the tiny oval window, and see the sparkly Mediterranean. As we approach land, the full effect of Beirut is striking: the cluster of urban buildings juxtaposed against a majestic mountain as if it grows right out from the city. Everything bathed in the glow of the setting sun.

For Hashem, he is home. His father and sister, Mariam, will soon greet us at the airport reception line (yes, you enter Beirut full célébrité, crowds of people behind stanchions awaiting their loved ones with balloons and flowers and signs). For me, every trip here is a new adventure, and although the exhaustion overwhelms me I am giddy for the coming weeks. And an odd mixture of happy and relieved to have completed our journey.

“You have your Lebanon and its dilemma. I have my Lebanon and its beauty. Your Lebanon is an arena for men from the West and men from the East. My Lebanon is a flock of birds fluttering in the early morning as shepherds lead their sheep into the meadow and rising in the evening as farmers return from their fields and vineyards.”

Khalil Gibran

It has taken me some time to get this post in the making. Our trip to Lebanon was over two months ago now, and we are in the full swing of our summer birthday marathon: Maya (June), Hashem (July), Nesrine (August).

But I thought it was about time to share a few images of our trip.

Do they show every middle-of-the-night wake up with jet-lagged children? No. Do they capture the full-body exhaustion of traveling with little people and their huge emotions? Not exactly.

But what they do show is worth every difficult moment twice over.

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and when you appear all the rivers sound in my body, bells shake the sky, and a hymn fills the world.

PABLO NERUDA