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June 28th 2010
Published: June 28th 2010
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This is it once again. Spent more than 3 weeks travelling through the middle east and enjoyed it too much. This report is just a summary of my trip.
My first night in Jordan I met up with John and Joelle, my lebanese friends who were in Amman at that time. It was really lovely to catch up with them. On saturday i started my travels towards lebanon by service taxi. The syrian controls have been hilarious as usual, met some very kind people on the way, monks and nuns who spontaneously offered me to show me their monastery near Saida and offered me a bed for the night. We spent the evening watching charlies angels, drinking lebanese Almaza beer (delicious i must say)... I didn't imagine these deeply religious people to spend their evenings in this way, however it was a great experience. The next day I travelled on towards Sour (Tyre) in south lebanon where I spent 2 days. Parts of the town have a charming mediterranean ambiente and people have been incredibly nice, kind and friendly. Visited the palestinian refugee camp "al buss" and had a walk through it. Life conditions appeared very cramped and wall papers and murals displayed very strong political attitudes prevalent in the camp. HOwever the rest of the city of Tyre didn't convey a very different impression. I was amazed by the post-war rebuilding that has taken place since I visited the country last time. People have really achieved to rebuild their country. Muslim areas that were bombed in 2006 have been rebuilt by funds provided by Iran. Lebanon once again has developed into a charming place full of contrasts. In Tyre i passed an area that was flattened by the israelis in 2006 and you can see children playing in the ruins of their former house.. some others live in tents. This city has seen unimaginable tragedy and has yet recovered in most of its areas into a charming mediterranean town.
Visited Beirut, Baalbek, Jounieh, Jbeil, spent a few days at the beach. Travelled on towards Damascus where I spent a night and did some shopping (Syria is a shopping paradise for oriental souvenirs, clothes, medicines (cheap and everything over the counter lol) The following day I caught a service taxi towards amman and another one to the king hussein bridge. Again I was amazed. This time by how relaxed the border has become since last time when I crossed it in 2005. I was prepared for extensive interrogations because of the lebanese and syrian stamps in my passport, instead a bored teenage girl asked me why i am visiting israel and for how long i am planning to stay and within 10 minutes I passed all controls without any hassles, they even had no objective in not stamping my passport. Met a few american diplomats who gave me a ride to jerusalem where I stayed for a night. Walked around the old city, visited haram ash shareef and its 2 mosques. The following day I travelled on to Nablus, again without hassles. The situation in the westbank has notably improoved and checkpoints have become comperatively hassle free both for palestinians and visitors. Met my friends in Nablus where I stayed for a whole week. We visited the city centre, the old city, the mountains, Jenin and its refugee camp where we stayed for a night with another part of the family.
Nablus is a buzzing city, a lot more conservative than Ramallah and you can still read in people's faces the hard times they went through. Until this day there are regular raids by the israelis in the middle of the night capturing "wanted" people which must be the most terrifying thing that can happen to a family whose house is being forcefully invaded by the military. My hosts had a heavy iron door as their house door after the military came and arrested several family members on different occasions and so a lot of Nablus and Jenins residents install heavy metal doors in order to make it more difficult for the army to enter the house. Things are a lot calmer these days and the city is returning to life.
I will update this report on a later occasion and add more details.

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