Monday, 16 May 2011

Sunglasses and cleavage

The Arab uprising came as a surprise to everyone, literally.

To the West, who was torn between the joy of spreading democracy and the risks of higher fuel prices. To the Arab leaders, who didn't know their people had a voice. And to the protesters, who probably didn't know they had a voice either.

The other unexpected outcome was the government's response to these protests. Since protesting is a virgin territory for both the people and the authorities, no one really knew what to expect. Tunisia and Egypt did well, Lybia and Syria aren't.

No one can really help Lybia as their leader is a self-centered, self-absorbed lunatic with a bad sense of fashion. But I think that in Syria's case, there may be some hope. If you think about it, no one may have challenged the Egyptian, Yemeni, Bahreini or Lybian governments in the past, but someone already fought the Syrian government: Lebanon after Hariri's death.

The Syrians may not know how to defeat their government, but we do. We fought the Syrian authorities for more than 10 years, trying out every single strategy until it finally worked in 2005 (we are so avant-gardistes, by the way).

So here is a tip as to how you can get your freedom in Syria.

Love the camera and the media, it worked for us and it should work for you:

International pressure is what will make Al-Assad bail, people abroad need to know what is going on in Syria and you need to be all over the news. I know it isn't easy because of the tight media control and the government cuting off internet and telephones. Nevertheless, many photos and videos still make their way out to the world and this is what you need to focus on. You also have to make it worth the risk for the journalists to come to Syria and take some nice shots of protest scenes.

So this, for instance, is a no-go:

What is that? A crowed of stinky men?

This is what you want:

Two words you have to keep in mind: sunglasses and cleavage.

With such hot and glamorous protestors, the world will start paying attention to your cause. The world is a superficial place and the young viewers from the West are your target. Don't forget that in their perspective you are competing with the latest Lady Gaga video and the only thing you are currently offering them is a bunch of Arabs protesting in dusty flipflops and out of fashion ripped off shirts.

So I repeat in case you didn't get it the first time.


I know this pic is probably from the 2006 war


Trust me, this will allow you make it to the top news, because look at the BBC website, you're number 7 in the top 10 of the most read news. Number 7? That's so weak.

Another small tip for the international viewers' convinience: be multi-lingual. Don't sit around in a square and shout like cattle, carry big signs in several languages, ideally French, English and Arabic.

I actually think this poster is still available somewhere in Beirut, let us know if you need it and we can send it to you ASAP.

I hope these tips were helpful. Please do not hesitate to use this blog as a platform for any questions you may have about taking down your government.

Syria, you are welcome. 

Saturday, 5 February 2011


The world is a chaos.

The arabs just discovered the term "democracy", the food prices are rising causing many poor countries to starve, Haiti is a mess beyond any human tolerance level, communism still exists, but most importantly: I have found a steady-conventional-9-to-6 job in Switzerland.

After having spent most of my savings travelling through Latin America, Europe and the Middle East, it is time for me to recapitalise in order to travel again in a couple of years (boss, if you're reading this, please don't fire me, it's bullshit. As I told you during the interview I am committed to stay with you for EVER!)

So what does that mean? Well it either means that I will blog about boring, uninteresting stuff that the blogsphere is already dealing with.

Or it means that I will stop blogging because I have become a normal, boring and conventional person like you with nothing interesting to say. 

Well, I chose the latter.

You may also be wondering why there are hot, almost nude girls with big boobs washing cars in this post - I can explain. Out of all the interesting posts I have written in a year and a half of reign, the post Damn you hot girls is the one that got the most hits...and BY FAR! It has received 1'472 clicks and the next most popular post only got 335.

Most of the people viewing this post were from Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan or the UAE. And I doubt these guys were laughing about my sarcasm in that post, but were rather touching their microscopic erected penises since porn is blocked in their respective countries.

I am proud to have provided free porn to these guys through my blog - but pleasuring rich, overweight, hairless, horny Saudis was not on my to-do list. 

Don't think that my dictatorship has been overthrown by some lousy horny arabs, like Egypt or Tunisia, I just thing that one should know when to stop.

This also explains the title of this post - I am hoping to attract those desperate young guys seeking free porn on the internet and have this post exceed the other one's clicks.

 So voilà, it is an au revoir, not an Adieu. I am off the air until I have something exciting to say again.

Eja ma3ak habibi? Did you cum? Ooooooh yeeeeeaaaaaahhhhhh!!

Now clean up before you sister questions the origin of this white sticky liquid on the keyboard, yalla!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Egypt, Egypt...

Dear Egypt,

What are you doing? First, you totally stole Tunisia's thunder - who by the way started all this. Now nobody even talks about it anymore, haraaaam. You even shadowed protests in Yemen, Jordan and Sudan and that is not cool. You have to learn how to SHARE the attention.

On the other hand, you are doing a little Beirut strategy here, aren't you? I quote (BBC News):

"Organisers say they hope one million will come onto the streets in what is expected to be the biggest show yet.
Some protesters defied the curfew and continued to camp out in Tahrir Square through the night, saying they would stay there until Mr Mubarak's 30-year-long rule ends.
One demonstrator, Tarek Shalabi, told the BBC that groups were camped out in tents or sleeping out in the square, and described the atmosphere as "overwhelming".
"We're here because we want to make a statement. We're not going until Mubarak steps down," he said."

If it translate in Beirut terms:

Organisers say they hope one million will come onto the streets in what is expected to be the biggest show yet.
Some protesters defied the curfew and continued to camp out in Martyr's Square through the night, saying they would stay there until Syria's 15-year-long rule ends.
One demonstrator, The Modern Dictator, told the BBC that groups were camped out in tents or sleeping out in the square, and described the atmosphere as "overwhelming".
"We're here because we want to make a statement. We're not going until Syria steps down," he said.


Well at least I am glad we inspired Egyptians - though I hope they will get more than a million people at this rally. The Beirut rally gathered about a million people in a city of about 1.5 million, so if Cairo wants to Beirut it, they'll have to gather about 8 million people (Cairo population being over 10 mio)...come on Cairo, you can('t) do that!

Also, be careful about the results. Since you've been living in shitty conditions for the past 30 years, it is only natural that you'd want to have the Muslim Brotherhood in power for the next generation as it brings food on your table everyday - it kind of is like the Egyptian Hizbollah.

Remember: these regimes are only good when they are transitory -  but like communism in Cuba or Radical Ismalists in Iran, these guys tend to stay for longer than they should and you'll be miserable again in 10 years. And I think it is worth mentioning how having these guys in power will ruin your everyday lives by imposing strict muslim traditions and how it will negatively impact tourism, which represents about 6% of your GDP.

Don't rush into conclusions, learn from Lebanon's mistakes. Look at how Hizbollah is fucking up our lives today.

Egypt, you are welcome for the advice.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Cuba: a glass of rum, a cigar et voilà

Traveling continues and my next destination was a rather special one. While the political turmoil continues in Lebanon, I have had the chance to visit another country torn apart by some very bad political decisions made about 50 years ago - Cuba.

When I got there I had no idea what to expect as the closest thing to a communist country I have ever been to is France.

After having been ripped off by my taxi driver from the airport, I checked in to an overpriced hotel by central Havana. The unfriendliness of most of the staff was shocking but understandable since my one night at the hotel represented about a two year salary for them - literally.

Communism: standardization at its best 

I had never appreciated communism, actually I always thought that it would be okay to put communists in concentration camps because they chose to be communists - unlike Jews or Gipsies who didn't pick their origins. And this trip to Cuba did not make me change my mind.

Communism is just wrong and goes against human nature. It is in our blood to fight for things, to be better or worse, more successful or not, stronger or weaker - you can't force people to be similar, we just aren't.

Sure, everybody knows the famous Cuban propaganda "they have free education and health care" - the Cubans themselves are actually convinced that this makes them more special than anybody else on Earth. But it isn't as beautiful and magic as it seems. As a friend of mine, who is an expert on Latin American issues, puts it - they have the higher literacy rate in Latin America but not the highest education rate nor the best education. 

There is a difference between knowing how to read and being educated - most cubans can read, but they don't have degrees - or rarely ever do. Moreover imagine I am studying Economics at the Havana University, how will the professor teach me the different economic models - particularly capitalism? The education gets very bias and since it's an island it gets much easier to control everything that gets into the country.

And health care? Why would I want to stay alive if it is to live in such terrible conditions?

I think we have to relativize this slogan and ask ourselves if our freedom isn't the most valuable concept our government can offer us.

How sad is the situation you ask? Sad enough so that a mother was trying to sell me her 16 year-old daughter on the street - well I am irresistibly hot, but come one! People are asking for anything on the streets, from milk, soap, pencils to money. 

I got myself a personal little concert in exchange for a small bottle of soap and another one of shampoo from the hotel.

Communism doesn't only stop here. On the Malecon of La Havana (seaside promenade), the entire area is deserted. My guess is that it used to be one of the fanciest and most exclusive areas in the city housing the elite of Havana, but since in communism everybody is equally miserable, the wealthy people either fled the country or became insanely poor and this is what happened to their neighborhood.

Forgotten, abandoned and dilapidated. This area is right by the sea and only a few blocks from the old town - you could just feel how important and wealthy it was. But hey, communists are allergic to money so let's just leave this area to rot.

 Walking there, I felt like I was in post-war Beirut.

La Havana isn't as joyful and colourful as everybody says. It actually is quite sad and destroyed - it is a perfect reflection of the regime's old and outdated policies. Though I have to say, if the city were refurbished, it would definitely be the nicest city in the Americas. In your face Buenos Aires!

The Malecon was totally deserted, no bar, no restaurant, no shop, no residence - it was very bizarre walking down what seemed to be a grandiose street, all by myself. Oh, well not totally - there was one cafe called Al Abadyia (which means "the end" in Arabic, I thought it was rather appropriate to the area), and there was one fisherman trying to make a living or maybe just trying to feed his soap-less family.

He had no clue that "fishing" was such a strange concept for foreigners - we get our fish from the supermarket  in a box and they look like finger sticks.

Capturing the fisherman at work

The communist concept is to be considered as a short term solution to economical disparities and social unrest - not to be adopted as a constant way of life. Look at their supermarkets:

You can't see well? Here's a nice little zoom:

So yes, why would one want to have a great health care system if it is to live like that? 

Why would one want to celebrate the revolution if this is what it led to?

But I will not only trash Havana - if you go to the touristy part of the city, the old town, then you get an idea of how beautiful the city can be if all the communists die.

It is not just rubble and misery. Cubans are actually a very happy population despite all the shit they have to cope with. Music is always playing everywhere - mind you they only have live bands, which is amazing - people are drinking (at the tourists' expense) the most delicious rum EVER while smoking a freshly wrapped cigar. I'm not a cigar person, but the Cuba Libre / cigar mix is just out of this world. 

The tourists that come to Cuba are mostly here to see what a communist country looks like - kind of like going to a freak show - and that was my motivation too. So as much as we enjoy taking pictures like this one:

Then we have to keep in mind that this guy has been driving the same car for over 50 years! This is his actual car, not some show he puts on to attract the tourists' attention. 

Or this guy is actually driving his mum on this awesome motorbike and if you ask him, I'm sure he'd prefer another newer vehicle.

It is very beautiful and charming and typical, but also kind of sad. It's like the country stopped in 1958 while the world kept evolving and changing.

If you come across this in NYC, then it's typical and charming because they are doing it on purpose to be retro. In Cuba it is actual life (though totally vintage!) 

After taking the legit' taxi back to my hotel, I decided it was time to see something else in Cuba.

I rented a car and drove about 4 hours away from La Havana on an empty communist-folie-des-grandeurs-style highway.

I noticed that the most popular way for locals to travel around is by hitch-hiking - but when I say popular, it means people rely on it to move from one place to another. So I picked up a few decent looking people and took them as far as I could on my way. It was a great way to talk to locals and learn a lot about the country. The best part is that they were like a live version of a GPS telling me where to go and which roads to avoid - everytime I dropped one off, I took somebody else.

After a long but enjoyable drive, I made it to Cienfuegos. A colourful, clean and beautiful small town by a lake in the southern part of the island.

The town was established by the French and you can clearly see that in the architecture of the city where you can find many manoirs overlooking the lake, an Arc de Triomphe by the main square and everybody walks with a baguette stuck up their asses.

Even though people were also asking for a lot of things on the streets, I preferred Cienfuegos to Havana because it was overall less sad. People were much friendlier, laid back and talkative (not only begging). The city itself is what you'd expect from Cuba with its colourful buildings 

Its 1960s style

And its other popular and legitimate public transportation system

The lake side - which looks more like a seaside - is filled with old houses that make you feel in an episode of Mad Men or somewhere in Louisiana in the 1960s.

Communism is also very present but in a much less aggressive way. Even though Havana isn't what I would call a fast paced city (at all), Cienfuegos is even more relaxed and easy to get around all while exploring the real Cuba. 

Though you are constantly reminded of who initiated the revolution, the famous icon of modern revolts - Che Guevara. Who, by the way, is an Argentine loser with a puberty beard who had to go all the way to Cuba to get heard. No, I don't like him.

I'm pretty sure he only does this to get free drinks from rum-soaked tourists like me

After a lovely day in Cienfuegos where the sun sets beautifully behind the huge lake, I travelled to 1970s California:

Lakeside sunset in Cienfuegos

I wish - but no, I went to Trinidad (de Cuba). I do mention the "de Cuba" part because my parents called me in panic because they thought I was somehow taking a car from Cuba to Trinidad and Tobago.

Trinidad is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a very beautiful little town in the mountains a few kilometers from the sea. It reminded me of Cuenca in Ecuador - tile houses and small paved streets were what made this city an incredible destination.

Beautiful as it was, I didn't enjoy it much. I have been approached by people asking me for stuff every single second. It was unbearable and I ended up protesting that "if their current regime is making them so miserable than they should just make another revolution". I didn't get many answers, people were probably not even listening, they were just spotting the next tourist to hassle.

It had a lot of little cafes, shops and restaurant on every street corner. It is a beautiful, colourful and refurbished little town with a huge amount of tourists.

I didn't stay much over there as I couldn't sit anywhere without being approached by a solicitor and asking me for stuff. As I was walking to the car, I took the wrong way and saw how the local, non-touristy Trinidad looks like - it wasn't very impressive and I had about 5 guys coming all together at me trying to sell me counterfeit cigars.

There is one thing about Cuba that immensely surprised me: the safety. After having travelled extensively around Latin America in the past year, security was always an issue even in Argentina. But Cuba is even safer than Switzerland. I walked around after dark hours in the crappy neighborhoods of Havana, carrying soaps and other stuff with me (I was doing santa), and never had any type of trouble. 

Even when I passed next to a group of hostile-looking big guys sitting on a top of a car listening to music,: they ignored me. Others would greet me politely but people would mostly just ignore me - which I hate because I like to be the center of attention!

I think it is that safe because the police is very VERY strict regarding contacts with tourists and especially if something bad happens to the tourist. Since the main funding partner of Cuba collapsed because it realised communism sucks, the USSR, the Castro Brothers need to find another way of funding this expensive utopia world, and tourists seem to be the ones paying for that.

Because it is very expensive for tourists to travel around Cuba. You can pay up to 25 or 30 USD per person in a good restaurant in the city, which is a lot since the monthly salary of one Cuban worker is of 10$. You can pay up to 300$ per night in some hotels and they're not the best. So the authorities need to maintain a safe environment for everyone so that no one gets discouraged of coming to Cuba.

But Cuba is changing. Slowly but surely. They have just allowed private businesses to be opened - because up until now everything belonged to the State. Though people still can't get loans to start their businesses! The US are easing the embargo and increasing the relationship between the two countries, which will help a lot the Cuban economy.

The communist bubble won't burst as fast as it did in Russia, but it is starting to deflate because people are getting really tiered. I mean I understand communism would work in cold, gray, boring and mean Russia - but not in colourful, friendly, sunny and salsa-energized Cuba!

To all you commies: go take Economics 101.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

A look at yesterday

Like everybody else on the Lebanese blogsphere, I will comment about what just happened.

In order to understand why is Lebanon so messed up today, we have to understand historically what happened. Do you know what happened?

During the Ottoman empire there was no Lebanon, it was part of Greater Syria - but the region of Mount Lebanon always benefited from a certain "autonomy" because it was different - it had Maronites in it (you know, the Christians that are ruled by this loser). When the Turks left the region, Lebanon and Syria were placed under French mandate and Jordan and Palestine under British mandate.

Several years after that agreement, there was still no country called Lebanon; until on day the Frenchies noticed that Mount Lebanon was different religiously and culturally. They decided to seperate it from Syria (which explains why Syria is so eager to win it back) and create Lebanon.

But limiting the country to Mount Lebanon only wasn't very wise since there isn't a lot of agricultural land in the mountains. So Paris decided to expand a little bit to the North, the East, the South and take Beirut along the way - Beirut is originally Sunni and Orthodox, not Maronite. The Maronites are kind of like the Incas - they stayed in the mountains and hated the seaside.

In that process, the French not only integrated agricultural land to the newly formed country, but also included many Muslims which they first considered as cheap labor that the Christians could use on the farms.

Beirut grew to be a major cosmopolitan city gathering - in different neighborhoods - all of the Lebanese sects. The rest of the country is similarly shaped and the everlasting clan leaders (Frenjieh, Mouawad, Jumblat, Gemayel, etc. - basically the same crap we still have today) who made it to the government as regional representatives did not understand that it wasn't a big "clan reunion" but a democratic country. And they still don't understand that now - they fight for their seat, their image and their presence more than they fight for the country itself.

Overall, Lebanon is screwed up as a democracy because we are made of many different religions and cultures. And as much as everybody denies it: christians don't care much for muslims, muslims don't care much for christians and sunnis and chiia don't care much for each other. So how can you run a country on this basis?

So a confederation seems to be the closest thing to a possible outcome for Lebanon. Different regions would be managed individually, and the people would be responsible for the guys they elect in their canton. The only thing I would be afraid of would be that once we get divided into cantons, the clan leaders d'antan would come back and dominate their respective regions like their ancestors did - but it's a risk I'm willing to take.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Dictator of the Caribbean

Wait no more reader, I am back. After blogging about Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, my tough life as a man of leisure took me to Mexico - Cancun to be exact.

As I left the old and cold European continent, it did not come as a surprise that my first contact with Latin America was in Miami. I had heard a lot about it being very Latino but never realised it was actually owned by them.

I had a five hour layover in the city and decided to go for a spin in town and meet up with a good non-latino friend of mine. Every hip person knows someone in Miami, and it's even cooler when that person's not Latino.

From immigration to customs, the taxi ride and the coffee place, I was spoken to only in Spanish - not one single encounter in Shakespeare's language.

Notice how poor Miami is. This is a guy selling Coca-Cola cans on a red light.

My stop in Miami was rather short but I had the time to feel unimpressed by the city - maybe because the weather was crap.

Empty apartment buildings, globally known as Condos. Miami was among the most hit by the US real estate crisis

After flying crappy American Airlines and feeling bad about having put on some weight this year, I made it to Cancun, Mexico's most famous Caribbean destination.

You probably all heard about Cancun in American movies when young university students fly there for Spring Break to get drunk and fornicate as much as they possibly can - well it's pretty much that in real life. Though most of the tourists now were couples, young and old, going to all inclusive resorts - but all and I mean ALL of them (99.75%) were from the US.

It was the first time I went to an all American mass-tourist zone, it's even more pathetic than the European version. When an area is highly US of A infested, then everything becomes American. First, you have to tip 10 to 15% everywhere and if you don't, then Jose Pedro Gonzalez Dominguez gives you the "I'm not satisfied with your cheap attitude" look - and as a non-American who is not used to tipping a guy for just anything, I got this look quite often.

Then, you get all these very real American clichés.

1) The "Caution wet floor" is literally everywhere, even in the obviously wet places: by the pool - this is all probably to avoid a potential law suit.

2) The fit and sexy American men:

3) The young, loud and drunk - please note the 2 drinks in his hands, it was about 11am (in an all inclusive resort):


I felt more in America after having spent a couple of hours in Cancun than after 5 hours in Miami.

Though, regardless of this unattractive tourist populace, Cancun has nice beaches, soft white sand and a warm sea. Also, the Mexicans are among the nicest people I've seen in Latin America - not only because they want a tip.

What most people don't know about Cancun and its surroundings, is that it was the home of...

Chichen Itza: the Mayan Capital in the Yucutan peninsula

..the Mayas. Yes, this great Central American civilization chose the Caribbean sea as its home base and just with that, they won many points in my heart. It may not be a very known fact because Cancun is the last place on Earth where you'd expect culture to be found, but if you look thoroughly in the tourist brochures offered by your hotel, you'll find great cultural activities hidden behind Amusement Parks, Water Parks, All you can eat buffet or Outlet Shopping tours.

Since I also had the chance to discover the Inca culture this year, I couldn't help but compare both. It wasn't as easy as I thought since getting information about the Mayas was rather hard and limited even though I had a tour guide (within a big group) while visiting Chichen Itza.

The Mayas played a very ancient version of Basketball. The winner had to be sacrificed and given to the Gods

I had never had such bad tour guide and as a European wannabe - but Lebanese at heart - I blame it on the Americans, yet again. This mass tourism doesn't necessarily bring the brightest of people and to keep mass tourists interested in a 90-minute tour it has to be interactive. So instead of telling us about the Mayan culture itself, their architecture, their beliefs, their lifestyle and so on, I witnessed a tour filled with stories of who killed whom, who hated whom and details about how they sacrificed their men by chopping their heads off. I kept interrupting the guide to ask him very smart questions - as one would expect from me - and he was pleasantly surprised to see that someone cared a bit more about the culture than about their circumcision techniques.

This is a Cenote - a hole in the earth filled with fresh water. You can swim there while being surrounded by this beautiful scenery

So, Incas v/s Mayas, who wins?

- Culture: well they were pretty similar - they worshipped the sun, they sacrificed people, they were ambitious, they both had a civil war and they both got dominated by the Spaniards. I can't get really much deeper in the Mayan culture, but I haven't seen a Maya Cola in Mexico, whereas there is an Inca Kola in Peru. Incas (1)

- Famous site: even though the pyramid is very impressive, Machu Picchu is still out of this world. Incas (1)

- Location: The Andes or the Caribbean? As much as the Machu Picchu's location in the Andezon is one of the most magnificent sites I have ever seen, choosing to be next to the most beautiful sea in the world is really something I respect. Mayas (1)

The archeological site of Tulum, the Mayan port

- Physical appearance: both native populations (mixed with Spanish blood) are not what I would call attractive, but Incas have small men with big noses and huge women with enormous shoulders. I was less horrified by the Mayan population of Mexico. Mayas (1)

View from the Tulum port. Tough life being a sailor in the world's most beautiful and calm sea (unless there's a hurricane)

- Current tourism: Both have the same techniques of organised mass tourism involving a lot of child labour and tacky events. But I was particularly disappointed by the guide in Chichen Itza compared to the fantastic guides of Peru. Incas (1)

Child labour always makes tourism cheaper

I guess the Incas win that battle, maybe because I haven't learned much about the Mayas or just because I am bias after having lived in peru - you should go and judge for yourself.

The Coba Pyramid - the tallest in the peninsula, and you get to climb it

The entire Yucutan peninsula is very forested and green - a sensation I like especially when you get to see this view from the top of the Coba pyramid

So if you ever go to Cancun, do enjoy Hooters and Coco Bongo but take the time to go outside of the hotel strip and discover some of the fascinating Mayan vestiges that are still there. The seaside along Cancun and the South - what is called the Riviera Maya - is all very beautiful and paradise-like (though filled with hotels and resorts non-stop for about 200km).

Now, let me get back to my rum on this beautiful beach while you read this next to your heater.