Intriguing is a word that comes to mind when touring the flower city that is Brummana. Behind the ornamented facades, lie stories of aristocrats and merchants, of those who came from abroad making Brummana their new home, those who fled the country leaving behind them beautiful mansions, and those who came back after making a fortune abroad. Then again this might be the story of every village and every city in a country where past glory is often our greatest pride. But what seems to set Brummana apart from other places that were also bustling during pre-war days is the care of the inhabitants to maintain their city. Whether they stayed or left, people are still looking after their old stone houses leaving us with a lively testimony of history. What’s more is they are embellishing them, animating the facades with cascades of colourful flowers.
I followed a friend on her own trip down memory lane, through the roman ruins where they used to play as children, hiding behind the columns, playing hopscotch over the mosaic pattern and avoiding holes that lead to the lower level of the roman bath where hot water used to run to warm the room above. On to a narrow paved path leading to Brummana High school founded by the swiss Théophile Waldmeier and supported by the Quakers, a group whose values are still distilled across the town initiatives; simplicity, community, integrity. We sat on the terraces of the old amphitheater, shaded by pine trees, and reminisced about our teenage years back when the place where we stayed on the steps defined our status in the schoolyard hierarchy. On to Deir el Kalaa (in Beit Mery) and its bright green gardens overlooking the capital where we imagined our perfect wedding, only to realize we first needed to find the ‘perfect’ guy. We ended this charming day with a lemonade at one of the majestic yet almost deserted hotels of the area feeling a small pinch in the heart. But we made a plan to come back very soon because despite the nostalgia, Brummana is still a happening place!