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Published: July 15th 2012
This morning, we got up fairly early as we were heading north to see the Cedars of Lebanon. We didn't go straight there, but saw different sights along the way. First was, Mar Antonios Kozhaya in the Zgharta district. It's a monestary in the northern mountians where the first printing press in the Middle East was invented. The press is in Syriac, an extinct language the preceded Arabic. Some of the litergy in the Maronite Church in Lebanon today is still said in Syriac. The press was invented in 1610. In the monestary, there is a museum in which the first press is showcased along with other artifacts. It was amazing to look at the stone tablet with the different Syriac letters carved on them used in the printing press. It was amazing to think that each letter had been hand carved into the stone. Just incredible.
Next we continued up the mountain to Saydet Al Hosn in Ehden, a church on top of the mountain. It had a great view of the valley. Unfortunately it wasn't a super clear day, but off in the distance, we could see the sea. After snapping a few shots, we piled back in
the car and the real fun began. Our destination was the Lebanese Cedars, down the mountain, through the small valley and up some of the opposite mountain. The exact route was unknown. We drove through little villages, across dirt roads, back tracked as we got lost, squeezed through tight spaces and traffic and wound our way up and down narrow mountain roads. As always, the driving was crazy and quite the adventure. =)
Finally, we arrived at the main destination for the day Arz, the cite of the Lebanese Ceders. We were high up in the mountains with not much around except for grass and small shrubs. There was a grove of beautiful Cedars. Joanna said at one time the mountains were covered with cedars, but they had almost all been cut down. New cedars have been planted in an attempt to restore the area to close to what it once was. Cedars, however, are very slow growing trees, so it will be hundres of years before those little trees are big and grand. We walked among the grove of cedars and marveled at their beauty. =) As we walked through, the smell almost reminded me of being up
in Yosemite. =) What a lovely smell.
After spending much time up there and having lunch at a local restaurant, we drove on to the next location. We visted the Khalil Gibran Museum in Bcharre. Gibran is a famous Lebanese painter, writer and philosopher. He lived in Lebanon and in Boston. The museum showcased many of his paintings. It is also the site of his tomb. It was a nice museum.
From there, we made the long, hot drive home. A great day of sightseeing. =)
When we arrived home we were told the tour we had planned to go on tomorrow to Baalbek had been canceled. Baalbek is a city close to the border with Syria that is home to some pretty incredible Pheonician ruins. The tour was canceled due to violence that had erupted/resumed in the city today. =( It was a reminder of the stife in this country that is often not apparent in this area. It would have been great to have been able to make it there, but I guess it just wasn't meant to be this trip. There will be other great things to day and places to go instead. =)
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