Saturday, February 20, 2010

February 19, 2009--Hail Hezbollah, Stop Uncle Sam, but don't touch my KFC!

Today was my first journey out of Beirut, and I must admit I loved being outside of Beirut. Everything was so calm and beautiful. A definite breath of fresh air!

My first stop was Beiteddiene, a village and palace in the Chouf Mountains that is home to Byzantine mosaics that were found in a nearby village and moved there during the 2006 war.

It was so beautiful I couldn't choose one photo.

Beiteddiene village

View from the palace
View from the palace

After that, I stopped in Saida and saw the Sea Castle, but unfortunately the souqs—what I really wanted to see—was closed. Depending upon time, I may go back to see that.

View of Saida from the Sea Castle

After Saida, we went to Tyr, which was what I really wanted to see. After going through more than a handful of Lebanese army checkpoints and passing through miles upon miles of banana and orange groves, we reached Tyr.

al Bass, with a Palestinian camp in the background.

I am having difficulty putting into words my thoughts about Tyr. It was amazing to see the first site, the al Bass archaeological site. There are about either 300 or 3,000 sarcophagi there (I can’t remember which), and a roadway that leads past a Roman hippodrome and aqueducts. The site is in the shadows of one of the biggest Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. They’re not even camps anymore—now, these ‘camps’ are build up with permanent dwellings. Seeing the camps neighboring the Roman ruins puts American politics and our squabbling (see: death panels) into perspective.

It was interesting to contrast the propaganda in the south to that found in Beirut. In Beirut, one can’t go two feet without seeing a poster of Rafiq Hariri. In the south, the posters of Hariri were defaced and posters of Hassan Nasrallah, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Hezbollah martyrs were everywhere. In one traffic circle, there was a pyramid that said, “Stop Uncle Sam.” Despite the apparent hatred for all things Western, I saw about five KFC delivery guys running around.


What was Rafiq Hariri

Hassan Nasrallah

Ayatollah Khomeini

Lunch was so good. We ate little restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean, with plenty of mezze and steamed fish and rice for the main, with dessert of bananas and oranges. We walked along the beach for a while, where there was so much sea glass, I couldn’t believe it. In the States, my family and I scour the beaches for sea glass and consider ourselves lucky if we find one piece during our week-long vacation. Here, I grabbed about a handful but could have easily filled bags upon bags of the stuff. After lunch, we went to see the seaside ruins at the al Mina archaeological site. From there, you can see Israel in the distance.

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