2017年8月27日星期日

"Remembrance is a form of meeting"

Title is, again, from the poem Sand and Foam

"My friend, thou art not my friend, but how shall I make thee understand? My path is not thy path, yet together we walk, hand in hand." - Khalil Gibran, My Friend

This is an account of the second day Morgana and spent in Bcharre. See this link for the first day.
We woke up and left the hostel around 10am and asked about the best way from other  hostel folks. Then we ventured towards the city center to find transportation in the direction of the Cedar tree national park. I also made sure about the last bus going from Bcharre back to Beirut.

Left is a photo of the classic fountain at city center. I drank some of that water and it didn't suit me well.


We ordered breakfast at the local bakery. The baker was a woman with a cute daughter. 

Our breakfast: a kind of baked egg bread that was very tasty and warm

After we finished breakfast, the Church's mass also ended. We joked that all the drivers would have also just finished mass. We found a man with a car who was willing to drive us there for 6 dollars.

When we arrived, we were greeted by a street full of tourist trinkets. We later learned that this street has been there for hundreds of years.


We donated 5000LL to enter in the beautiful park. In the park, we also saw many Ethiopian ladies on a day out, dressed up in their traditional dresses. Many either work here or have married into a Lebanese family.



"Since ancient times [the cedars'] shadows have fallen on the profusion of cultures that have enriched Lebanon. The hardy trees were used by the pharaohs of ancient Egypt to furnish their tombs, by King Solomon in the building of his great temple in Jerusalem, and by the Phoenicians in the building of their mighty boats which brought such gifts as the phonetic alphabet to the world. For thousands of years they had inspired the mystics and poets of Assyria, Chaldea, Greece, and Rome. All around the young Gibran the cedars stood in silent majesty, echoing his own words: 'The cedars upon thy breast are a mark of nobleness, and the towers about thee chant thy might and valour, my love.'" - Man and Poet: A New Biography, Suheil Bushrui and Joe Jenkins




A unique outdoor church on top of the trail


A perfect altar for the sermon

Inside the church which had no bathroom

A unique sculpture of faces made by a French artist. Different angles show different objects. From the angle of my photo, you can barely see the sculpted parts.

An odd structure where everyone went to pose for a picture, including me.
Many families were there as well and the mothers were particularly ferocious in scolding their kids. But after the scolding, the kids would comfort each other in the cutest way.


"The lengthy branches of the trees spread to encompass within their shade Wadi Qadisha, the sacred valley, with its groves of oak, willow, poplar, and walnut. Every springtime the sacred valley would welcome Tammuz (Adonais), a Phoenician god of death and resurrection, and young girls would wander among the flowers that carpet the valley floors, looking for the handsome young god. " -- Man and Poet: A New Biography, Suheil Bushrui and Joe Jenkins


An up close look of the cedar pine cones.

After we left the cedar park, Morgana and I went to a cafe; she had a glass of orange juice and charged her phone, which we relied on for directions. 

I was very stubborn not to take a car back even though the same driver was there waiting to take us back. So we walked for some time and discussed about the Syrian war and predicament that is Israel's belligerent foreign policy... We walked downhill for at least 30 minutes.







Many cars passed us by. Then one car stopped and two men were sitting in the front. David, who was the driver, asked if we wanted a ride. His companion was Micho, who looked a bit younger. I asked Morgana if she was ok, and she said yes. So I said sure, we will join you. David spoke the most because his English was better. David said he and Micho come to Bcharre once every couple of weeks because he likes the town a lot. David works as an engineer for surveillance cameras and Micho is a drummer. Micho showed us pictures of him at the drum set, which were quite nice. 
Then David invited us for lunch as well. Surprisingly, we went all the way back to where we began our walk down: at one of the cafes across from the cedar park. David said he knew the owner very well. Morgana and I were surprised. Still, we enjoyed the lovely lunch together, where a Lebanese singer even was singing live for us. The atmosphere was very festive and people enjoyed their food even more. Other families even started dancing; David and Morgana briefly joined them while Micho and I watched. David packed some of the leftover for cats. He has a passion for animals, even though he does not have a pet.

David offered to drive us all the way back to Beirut as well. We were happy to accept his offer. He said in order to beat the traffic, we should be on our way soon. I requested that we see one last thing, which was the grotto behind the Gibran museum. David also taught us some Arabic on the way there. he was very glad to meet people from a different cultures, although I am not sure how much experience he had in the past. We went inside the grotto and took pictures together. David said he had never been here before and thanked us for showing him it.

  
Inside the grotto; a very quiet and peaceful place

Behind the grotto there was also another site to see: a Phonecian tomb. I was the only one who climbed up.


It was a very difficult climb. There were no other tourists. The last leg of the trip had no protective barriers. But I still made it pretty far. Under the tomb, it was all gravel and a particularly steep climb. I did not approach it as close as I would have liked, since I was afraid I might slip, but I still saluted it from a near distance.

The obelisk that marks the tomb is thought to be dated back to 750 BCE! Not as remarkable if you don't know the history. 

On the way back to Beirut, David drove all the way. We all briefly fell asleep from time to time, and I was a bit guilty for not engaging in conversation with him even though I was sitting next to him. He had a Wael Kfoury CD which he played from time to time. He stopped by an ice cream shop and Micho treated us to ice cream as well. 


Trilingual Ice cream sign: Armenian, Arabic, and English.

I also learned at this point that David and Micho are Armenian Christians, one of the first Christians in history. I later asked them if they attended a service, since it was Sunday. David said yes, they went to a neighboring town of Bcharre, which he also recommended us to check out if we had a chance. I asked if the priest gave a sermon. He said no. From what I heard, it sounded quite short and ritual centered.


     
Left: Ice cream guy scooping from the fruit section. Right: Micho enjoying his ice cream. I was a bit confused with the ice cream types, since some didn't have milk in it. But it was still quite a unique experience.

After ice cream, we were dropped home and said good bye to these two new friends. Summer in Lebanon! What an adventurous day. I was so lucky that Morgana was willing to indulge on these unconventional detours.

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