Adonis Diaries

“On the Wild trail of Mount Lebanon”: Toward Aaychieh (Part 8)

Posted on: March 12, 2010

Part 8. “On the Wild trail of Mount Lebanon”: Aaychieh; (Mar.13, 2010)

Pierre Bared, a middle-aged man, tall, svelte, with graying beard and three children decided to walked alone for 22 days on the wild trails of Mount Lebanon.

He crossed Lebanon from the upper northern town of Kobayat to the southern town of Marje3youn in June 2008.

At 8:30 am Pierre and his part-time companion Chamoun walk toward the south: destination unknown.  They pass by an improvised station for washing cars by an irrigation canal.

They had decided to take the asphalt road for fear of cluster bombs that Israel haphazardly dropped on South Lebanon in 2006, in the last three days of the 33 days of the July preemptive war. At noon, they take a rest under the lone oak tree in the vicinity.  They eat at a restaurant in the village of Kfarhouneh: homus, chich taouk (chicken), and a large platter of salad.

It is Sunday and calm. The break is extended: Pierre’s friend George called and is joining the walkers with his girlfriend Farfoura.  Pierre visits alone a convent because the cleric seemed antipathetic; a local TV team is filming the inside of the convent.

By 7 pm, they are in Zeghrine. The Moslem Muezzin is calling for evening prayer.  Adolescents are eating ice cream and dropping the paper where they stand.

Next destination is Aaychieh.

Three armed civilians ask for ID; Pierre responds by asking for their ID first.  The armed men contact the Hezb HQ.  Two brothers invite the walkers and bring them fruit juice; the youngest accompany them to his house in the village; after a hot shower, the travelers join the family for dinner and sleep in an apartment.

In the 70’s, Palestinians killed the father; the family has now forgiven and looking forward.

The next morning they pass a house; the man invites them for tea.  The town of Marje3youn appears on the top of a mountain.  There is an army post.

Private Ali from Akkar whom Pierre met a couple of weeks ago holler to Pierre: Ali confided that he is no longer satisfied with army life and its small rations.

The Litany River valley separates the travelers from Marje3youn in the south and the Crusaders’ Beauford Castle (Chekeef Arnoun) on the west.  Several pauses were necessary during the steep ascent.

In Marje3youn, Pierre orders mankoush and soda; the owner refuses to accept money. Pierre finds a church and takes off his boots.

The residents in the second floor of the opposite building call the army; two soldiers arrive and search all the belonging of Pierre.  Pierre told the fat harassing soldier that he will meet with the Army Chief and will suggest to him to order all soldiers and military personnel to walk Lebanon from North to South; the fat corporal is not happy and takes Pierre’s conversation very seriously.

Chamoun arrives with Nasser, a good-hearted man (aleb tayeb); they eat at Nasser’s house where the family was ready to have dinner around an outside table; all kinds of food were arranged on the table.

Pierre asks to care for the barbecue since he does not feel hungry yet.  Then Pierre locates the mayor to negotiate the proper location for planting the cedar tree. Political infighting with the council is exacerbating any decision.  The travelers spend the night at Jamil’s (Nasser’s nephew) house.

The next evening, a correspondent from the daily Al Nahar had an interview with Pierre; Chamoun tried to pressure Pierre to lie and say that Chamoun coincidently walked in a separate trail. The photographer Alfred arrives and takes photo sessions for the planting ceremony. They had a car ride to Jezzine to perform another planting ceremony.

Pierre got into thinking: it is these warm, good-hearted and welcoming families who represent the true character of Lebanon.  End of the 22 days walking trip on the wild trails of Mount Lebanon.

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March 2010

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