Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Jezzine

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.

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.

Testimonials of a civil war: Joseph of Hilalieh in East Sidon

Note: civil war in Lebanon 1975-1991

The issue of the daily Al Balad, April 19, 2005

Joseph is from a predominantly Christian village of Hilalieh in East Sidon.  During the first two years of the civil war, no major calamities happened in that region .  The situation deteriorated after the preemptive Israelis invasion in 1982.

All hell opened loose since then, especially,after Israel withdrawal from Sidon in February 1985. Israel troops remained in South Lebanon till the year 2000.

In April 28, 1985, the conflagration took place among the different factions in and around Sidon.  In one side were the Christian factions of Phalanges, Lebanese Forces, and General Lahd Army allied to Israel, and on the other side the Naserites, Islamists, and Communist forces.

Joseph was attending the “Maximus Hakim” school when the battle raged. The Christian Orthodox monks provided lunch to the students until the parents were able to come later and pick them up. Joseph went with his father to his hometown, while his mother and grand mother left the village of Kyaha around Jezzine.

The exodus started in these regions; the Christians in Kiyaha, Kenneya, Sharhabil, Mieh-Mieh toward Jezzine and other safer Christian villages and the Moslems converged to Sidon.

After a month of continuous relocation, Joseph’s father decided to go back to Sidon instead of East Beirut. The business house was untouched because the neighbors kept watch, but his house in Hilalieh was now occupied by another family by the permission of the People Nasserite Organization.

They lived for two months in Abra in an apartment vacated by cousins of theirs, who immigrated to the USA.  They managed to retake their house, which was practically ruined and emptied.  Within days, neighbors started returning the furniture that they claimed have borrowed for safe keeping.

The Israelis and Syrians decided that the dividing line of demarcation between the warring factions would be Majdeliun. The region was self-administered until the Lebanese Army entered Sidon in 1990.

The Israeli forces destroyed a modern university constructed by Rafic Hariri in Kfarfalus and many villages suffered destruction and pillage by Israeli troops, but not at the scale observed around Beirut and the Chouf.




May 2022

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