Clearly, the mighty rumble of Beirut’s jam packed highway wasn’t enough. Neither was the regular maelstrom of shelling providing the soundtrack to the dark hours in Damascus. Oh no, nothing could awaken me from my slumber until the morning light. That was, of course, until I came across some guy with a microphone and a terrible case of verbal diarrhea on a beach in Latakia. Then it became glaringly obvious that I was no match for this juggernaut of sound.
I can only assume he was paid per word. Either that, or the guy just enjoyed spouting continuous, unfathomable gibberish for five hours nightly on an otherwise quiet beach in Latakia on the Syrian coast with a musical accompaniment that followed his every word. Yes, this orchestral explosion of utter twaddle began every night at 12 and continued unrelenting into the night, until the dark gave up and made way for dawn. Generally, things would end at around 5am and perhaps by then myself and the rest of the summer beach dwellers were allowed some sleep.
I don’t know if it was because my Arabic is so terrible that I found the whole experience so enraging. I don’t know if the guy was telling a nightly story backed by music or if he was just the local crazy person and this was the sole way of keeping him in check during the day. But the amount this dude ranted on, the monotony of his tone, the mimicking of it by the music. It made me consider joining the war raging just a few miles to the northeast.
But I didn’t. As Pink Floyd once so brilliantly put fifty years ago, I lay there in quiet desperation, night after night as crazed singer man frothed at the mouth until the cows came home. I don’t even know if he had an audience for his shenanigans.
As I type, it’s 4:32am. I finally gave up trying to sleep half an hour ago. I’m actually considering going to the hotel fifteen minutes stroll away, to use their free wifi and have a drink. I probably won’t go that far though – after I’m done writing I’ll put the kettle on here instead, then go outside and murder Mr Musical Haemorrhage in a flurry of blows not seen since Julius Caeser pissed off the Roman senate one too many times.
Oh, and now the musical tone has turned. It’s moved on from Arabic dance, to bass-heavy western style house, with a hint of violin thrown in for good measure. Mr Music Man just shouted something inane and is now quiet for a few moments – probably taking his diarrhea medication or something.
What is even more frustrating about the whole situation is that this is by far the most comfortable, spacious bed I’ve had to sleep in over the past six weeks of floating around Lebanon and Syria. Huge, a good firm mattress, otherwise quiet neighbourhood, working air conditioning, no Mosquitos. All the pieces of the puzzle are here. But this guy just took a bloody great dump all over that puzzle, just as I was about to place the final piece and get some decent shut-eye.
He’s still ranting. As am I. I’d love to know what he can possibly talk about for five hours nightly. Perhaps he’s reading out the entire contents of the local daily newspaper for a plethora of adoring fans holding hands and swaying back and forth as they sit cross-legged around him in a circle on the beach, with flowers in their hair. Or perhaps he’s just another one-man-show massaging his ego to the few dudes who sleep on the beach every night and spend their days screwing around on jetskis, trying to convince girls to take rides around the bay with them in exchange for clinging on to their manly bodies as they maneuver their way through groups of swimmers at Mach Three, just yards from shore. But I’ll never know for certain.
It’s 4:42 now. He hasn’t stopped to take a breath – music now some rhymical crap that would fit well with a documentary about an army of dwarfs advancing across a moonlit plain. I’m off to make that tea.