Let me start out by saying that Lebanon is one of my favorite countries on the planet. I didn’t see all of it, and it is not that large to begin with. However, what I did see was truly amazing. When I first found out that the travel study component of my semester in Egypt would be spending a week in Turkey, a little less than a week in Syria, and a whole week just in Beirut, I thought that the scale was a little tipped. NO way! Well worth the time. But I am getting ahead of myself. First things first!
From the Syrian side, crossing into the Bekaa Valley was not much of an ordeal. Changing money into lire was straightforward, and none of us had any stamps in our passports that would serve to worry the respective authorities. However, for some reason, it seemed to take forever. Almost an hour if I remember correctly. Regardless of delays, we did make it to the other side and grabbed lunch without too much delay. This delay being a side trip to see the ‘largest stone in the world.’ It was so uneventful that I: A, didn’t bother getting off
the bus, and B, can’t remember the story behind it. On to the lunch. One of the most interesting lunches I have ever had. The meal itself was fine, but not that notable. The cool part was that Hezbollah was having a rally in town on that day. Throughout our meal, hordes of supporters for the ‘Party of God’ (Hizb Allah) were passing by on their way to the day’s event. Yes, we did enquire about attending, and NO, we were not allowed to. I did manage to get a photo with some up and coming members though.
After the fun with a fanatical Islamic group, we were off to see the great Roman ruins at Baalbek. Maybe they were better than the sights in Rome, or perhaps it was because I was not even expecting to see any Roman structures in the country, but these were really cool and seemed like they were in better condition than the sights in Rome. Either way, it was a really cool stop. The area was huge, no crowds to fight in order to take it all in, and it all seemed to be so random being in a little town close
to the Syrian border. Good times. Once it started getting dark, we settled into the bus for our drive into Beirut.
To give you a quick idea of what this country has to offer, here are just of few things that I covered in just a week.
1. Hezbollah Rally (Shi’a Islam)
2. Met with Maronite Christian (Eastern Catholic)
3. Met with Greek Orthodox Christians
4. Met with a Sunni-Muslim MP from Tripoli
5. Ate French food in addition to fine Arab Cuisine
6. Visited with Palestinian Refugees
7. Had coffee with a Druze Cleric (indigenous secret religion)
8. Hiked in the mountains
9. Enjoyed the tremendous culture of Beirut
Here are a few websites for those that are interested: Hezbollah Lebanon Country Profile Lebanese Civil War
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