From the Christian Cliffs to the Valley of Hezbollah
Maronite Christians came to Mt. Lebanon in the 5th Century
but when the Arabs invaded the Christians fled to the steep and remote gorges of central Lebanon.
in caves and alcoves they carved some of the world's first monasteries
we set out to hike the Ouadi Qadisha, the Holy Valley, bastion of Maronite Christians
Clinging to a cliff, we come across Our Lady of Hawqa Monastery, home to a Colombian-born hermit
it's a secret pilgrimage site for those who dare
down into the gorge we continue
until we reach a mountain cafe where the Christians are spontaneosly dancing Dabke
then up the cliffs to the mile-high village of Bsharri
birthplace of a famous poet whose book was on every dorm shelf when i was in college.
in book sales, he become the third most popular poet of all time
Khalil Gibran asked that these words appear next to his grave
we take the night in Ehden, a garden city famous for its forbidden fruits
we visit St George church in Ehden some believe the slayed dragon was a huge croc washed ashore from the Nile
here lies Youssef Bek Karam (1823 - 89), a Maronite who fought the Ottomans for an independent Lebanon
with the morning we continue up the slopes of Mt Lebanon
stopping briefly at a grove where a local artist has carved christ figures in dead cedars
to the summit crest overlooking the Bekaa Valley & the Anti-Lebanon range, border with Syria
the Bekaa Valley is a rich breadbasket, but residents are mostly poor. Here Hezbollah has taken root
some christians here are worried.
Baalbek walks the tightrope of tolerance
at the entrance to the Roman ruins Hezhollah is selling t-shirts and flags
but the religion of selfies prevails
the magnificence of Baalbek inspires all faiths
later we visit the Hezbollah museum
all children deserve peace
at our hotel in Zahlé, we happen upon a Shia wedding. no alcohol...
but like weddings around the world, it is a time celebrate
Lebanon: Land of Hope
Trust in dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity. - Khalil Gibran --------------- www.mtsobek.com #MTSobek #stellerstories