Ancient war-ravaged city spits tubes…
The last forty years haven’t been real kind to Beirut, once the blossoming intellectual flower of the Middle East.
Even with a cursory knowledge of world events, you’ll know Lebanon, of which Beirut is the capital, was ripped apart by a five-year-long civil war beginning in 1975 (Jesus’ proxies v soldiers of Allah) followed by an invasion by IDF muscle in 1982 after the PLO had set up shop across the border from Israel in Lebanon.
This short movie, Flight 566 to Beirut, was made by our dear friends from Wasted Talent magazine (who also have a dazzling shopfront on Avenue des Menuisiers in Hossegor, France, and which you must visit if you’re ever in town) and follows the Bierut-born, Reunion Island-raised surfer Mr Adrien Toyon as he chases a swell there.
A little context.
Adrien was born under shelling in a hospital basement north of Beirut during the civil war which once ravaged the peaceful and prosperous Lebanon.
We had been talking about doing a Mediterranean strike mission for a while over a few glasses of Rioja in Biarritz and we floated the idea of the Lebanon. Adrien spoke of a mythical slab near where he was born that has never been surfed called ‘Yours’, and spoke of his yearning to return home to surf it.
So there we were, three weeks later having watched a developing swell chart. We disembarked Flight 566 to Beirut, and stood at Lebanese passport control being asked by men with handsome moustaches and heavily braided shoulders as to our intentions.
We left 5 days later wearing wry smiles, humbled by the overwhelming welcome we were met with. Humbled by the quality of waves and the surf culture in it’s infancy. A modern, progressive society reflected in its gentle people, keen to disparage the ghouls of the past and to show the rich cultural and social heritage of their beautiful nation. A beacon of liberty, tolerance and prosperity in the Middle East.
My expectations were, having frolicked in the sea nearby, very low but the righthander at the four-minute mark will make you clear your throat and lift your beer in salute.