Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Barouk

Part 7. “On the wild trails of Mount Lebanon”: Toward Barouk; (Mar. 11, 2010)

Advancing toward Barouk, Pierre passes a kiosk manned by an old couple; the couple invites him and he observes many parsley patches arranged in Indian file.  The ascent is relentless and Pierre reaches the village of Fraydis.

Pierre meets his friend Mazen, living on the first floor of a building. Pierre enjoys a hot shower and then dinner was ready; in the menu lentil “moujaddara”. Mazen’s garden is arranged with large heavy weight tires. The interior is well-kept and clean for a single man.  Mazen drinks “matte” (a tea like drink appreciated in South America and Lebanese who lived there).

On the morning of day 18, Pierre is running out of cocoa and powder milk for breakfast. Next target town is Maaser El Chouf.

Pierre meets an old sheikh in traditional “cherwal” and long white beard.  From Barouk the trail is a steady ascent.  An hour later, Pierre reaches the top of the mountain; he sees a rusted trapper bait. Ahead is a virgin plain (no detritus, no quarries, and no cement).

At Maaser el Chouf an old man invites him for a drink of raspberry syrup; the grandsons are wearing no black cherwal, but new generation cherwal.

At 1 pm, it is time for lunch but the season of tourists is not yet in: the shops are closed.  A snack bar prepares Pierre humus with sausages.

Jim, an intermediary of his friend Raja, is to bring Pierre the keys to the house.  In the meantime, Pierre tries to take a nap under a nut-tree but flies prevent the resting pause. He walks to an ice cream parlor and talks with kids.  Pierre and Jim spend the evening on the balcony.

In the morning, Pierre waits for 3 of his friends to join him for noon barbecue.  Pierre’s walking companion calls to rejoin the trip.  Next target town is Niha.

The two walkers start at 8 am and pass Khraybeh and then to Baadarane.  The “moukhtar of the village asks questions: he is worried that Hezbollah is using various spying techniques. According to the moukhtar, the latest technique was using goats to take pictures by attaching cameras around their necks. The travelers eat mankouch at the only bakery in Baadarane. They pass a water reservoir.

Niha is renowned for its prophet Ayoub (Job); a Druze house cult is perched on a mountain.  According to the gate-keeper, Ayoub was plagued by skin diseases for 40 years; his wife was the only person to ascend his isolated place to feed him. When Ayoub was healed he went to Yemen where he died.

Pierre had a nap under a pine tree; Chamoun talks to the man in the kiosk.  Pierre is observing ants.  He is thinking “nothing can obstruct humankind evolution; the ecosystem is degrading at an alarming rate. And if God was created by man? Better start studying animals seriously: they might have a better outlook to life purpose.”

An hour later, they head toward the town of Jezzine; they drink from a spring.  A young cultivator on a tractor confirms the correctness of the trail.  They face a panel warning of mines: they are at the “frontier” separating the Druze communities from “Hezbollah Land”.

Two armed civilians of the Druze “unofficial militias” arrive in a car: they explain how to circumvent the mined land by following metal pickets planted at the right side of the route that is closed by dirt barrages. Pierre leads; 500 meters later there are no pickets.

They decide to follow the path where plants have grown; then the passage becomes impracticable and they walk haphazardly.  It was an awful one kilometer-stretch not to recount to your mother.

It is 7 pm and they reach another quarry; they descend to a dry river bed. Within 5 minutes, they are longing main road.

A lonely woman is having evening walk.  Chamoun extracts his pamphlets and start to “dizzy” the lady.  Jezzine is packed with coffee shops, walking people, cars, music: an urban sense of activities. Selim hollers to Pierre; Selim lives in Beirut and manages a coffee shop in Jezzine on week ends.

Pierre’s friend Raymond has called his aunt to arrange for Pierre’s night comfort. It turned out there are several persons with the exact name of Raymond’s aunt.  Tony, the son of the lady is a priest in civilian cloths when not “on the job”.  Tony is a modern new generation priest: he plays billiard, swims, and has a cellular; he leads a normal life contrary to the conservative life style of the Christian Maronite clergy.

The aun’st husband was badly hurt by one of the million cluster bombs that Israel dropped in the last three days of the 33 days war in July 2006.  Pierre plays a card game “likha” before tuning in to sleep.

It was decided that the rest of the trip will be on regular roads to avoid being blown up by a mine.

Part 6: “Wild trails of Mount Lebanon” (Mar. 8, 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 crossing it from the upper northern town of Kobayat to the southern town of Marje3youn  in June 2008.

On the 17th day, two Syrian workers, guarding a newly renovated villa, did their best to welcome Pierre. They reserved him one of the two beds for the night and purchased a roasted chicken.

Many Christians denied Pierre, even a listening ear, during his walking trip.  The place allocated to the workers was miserable: “the others” must have been used to miserable conditions!

Pierre descends a valley to the river and crosses a rickety bridge; he reached the town of Bzebdine by 1 pm.

It is Sunday; Pierre’s friends Joseph and Saba were to meet him for a picnic. The son of the owner of a building, studying for his public exam, gathers red and green prunes from his garden and offers them for the three men.

Two armed civilian militia of the socialist Druze party (of the warlord Walid Jumblatt) pay them a visit for questioning.

Pierre has hard time locating the trail to Kornayel using the useless guide book.  He traverses a forest and hears gun shots and various arms firing.  The forest is degraded by men.

By 6 pm, Pierre is in Falougha.  Kids are playing soccer by the church yard: it is an unknown notion in Lebanon to reserve playing grounds and spaces for kids.

In Falougha, the mayor stops to pick up and collect detritus off the sides of streets: an example that renders this town clean.

Joseph, a member of the association “Sentiers du Mont Liban”, meets Pierre in an ice cream parlor.  Joseph claims that the wild trails are not marked so that people call them up! What an excuse given that the association was awarded $3 millions for that project.  It seems that part of the budget was allocated to restore a few welcoming houses for travelers.  It is good to know that the project is done by volunteers and the private company is doing nothing.

Chamoun, the one who called Pierre to join him for the remainder of the trip, called Pierre and they agreed to meet at the main fountain in the morning. Pierre sleeps at Joseph’s house.

Next morning, Chamoun arrives decked in kaki outfit and all kinds of small flags pinned on the uniform; he even brought a spare boot.  They both ascend to Dahr el Baidar; an army post is there but did not disturb the travelers.  The walkers take a break under the shadow of a lonely tree.

They cross Damascus Highway to catch the old train tunnel: no train rails are left.  They see a quarry, so many unlicensed quarries in Lebanon that are disfiguring the landscape. Many Lorries are suffocating the climate with dirt.  They meet a 10 year-old girl shepherding goats: Pierre gives the girl water to drink.

A couple of old folks are gathering cherries and apricots; they welcome the travelers as if they knew them.  The walkers see another quarry that inflicts significant pain to the eyesight.  They meet an old cultivator who invites them to his one room depot.

They continue to Ain Dara.  They meet workers rebuilding the bridge of Mdayrej that Israel bombed in 2006; they eat with the workers at the central town square restaurant and good boy jokes fuse from everywhere. Chamoun is carrying promotional materials concerning his exploits, adventures, and recommendation in health care; he never stops talking once he is carried away for his aggrandizement attitudes.

Pierre and Chamoun resume their trip to Nabe3 el Safa; they cross a small natural farm of cows and chicken co-existing.  They come into an orchard of peach trees (best peaches in the world).  They stumble over a sofa under a tree: they could not let this luck be missed for a well deserved pause.

For the first time in the trail, Pierre sees a notice warning against landmines, cluster bombs, and unexplosed missiles left by Israel recurring bombing of Lebanon.  They reach the “Cedar reserve” of Chouf; the guard of the forest reserve offers them a room with two real beds and a real hot shower facility (5 stars accommodation).

The next day, the photographer Alfred shows up for photo sessions of the routine cedar tree planting.  Planting a cedar tree in the reserve cost $250, including entrance card to the forest any time, having your name attached to the tree, and a certificate; the tree has the number 116.  The mayor accompanies Pierre.

The walkers return to Falougha for another planting ceremony of cedar tree, and then to Mtein.

Chamoun calls up his sister to give them ride to the cedar reserve; she drops Pierre in Mdayrej; Chamoun calls it quit and returns with his sister home.  Pierre waits 30 minutes to be picked up by a truck to Nabe3 el Safa; the next target town for Pierre is Barouk.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

September 2021
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