Playing catch-up and an excuse to post photos
Back when we went to Damascus...we also took a day trip to Lebanon. Yep. I'm still playing catch-up.
We went to check out Baalbak - with, time allowing, a quick jaunt to Beiruit. To get to Baalbak, we drove through the Beqaa Valley - named for Bacchus, the god of partying - which is appropriate since the valley is known for the production of grapes (as well as cannabis and opium). There were snowy mountains on either side of the valley and it was FREAKIN' cold. Also, something I haven't seen in either Syria or Jordan, were Bedouin tents set up in rows....with satellite dishes. (?!)
Think trailer park.
Can't believe I didn't have the driver stop so I could take a better picture. But in addition to being cold, it was also rainy...and COLD! Here's one through the speeding car window:
Typically, in Jordan, you won't see more than five or so tents in one location. Often just two or three. Of course, satellite dishes imply that they are there in one place for a little while. Maybe hunkering down for the winter. Not sure how the satellite company account works exactly...
On a side note: Don't think that people in this region don't have access to EVERYTHING. This is satellite TV - you can access anything here that you can access in the States. Some of the Lebanese music videos would make your toes curl. Also, the most popular movies are from Egypt, where people dress and often interact similarly to those in the West. In fact, when I first arrived, I thought the old ones were American films dubbed into Arabic.
Driving through a town near the Bedouin 'village', there were Hezbollah flags lining the center of the street, which is kind of unsettling when one is raised on American news. But, of course, these flags represent Hezbollah as a political party that provides social services - schools, hospitals, etc. Not that everyone in the region approves of them, I should point out. I was kinda tempted to buy a Hezbollah T-Shirt, 'cause I'm pretty sure none of my friends have one.
Baalbak has the largest Roman temples ever built. They are also amongst the best preserved. And again, almost no tourists. I think people would do well to visit Syria and Lebanon for Roman ruins rather than visiting Rome, which is just so overcrowded.
We bopped around for a couple of hours, despite being freezing....which I probably don't have to mention 'cause you can just see it in my face:
Jon, pretending he's not freezing, but he is:
More pretty shots:
We wanted to go to Beiruit but we were running out of time. Also, one of the bridges you need to get there was blown up by Israel two years ago, so we had to wind down to the bottom of the mountain and then back up the other side. A beautiful drive though.
We managed to get to the outskirts, high above the city:
We passed many houses with bullet holes, but nice areas nonetheless.
Here's a shot from inside our taxi to the bus station in Syria. Taxi drivers in Syria love their bling...just here it happens to be heart stickers and stuffed animals.