Towards our last few weeks in Lebanon, I told my husband at least every other day, "I'm not leaving Lebanon without going to Baalbek." Visiting relatives in Lebanon makes setting firm plans difficult as there is no such thing as a plan, only a possible plan as who knows what or who would materialize? Every day plans to go to Baalbek were discussed. Everyone had some comment to contribute. But then another day would pass.
Finally the day came. My brother-in-law, 2 sisters-in-law, my nephew, my husband and I left Bishmezzine. We had decided to first spend the night in Ehden at my brother and sister-in-law's summer home, then set off in the morning over the Lebanese Mountains to Baalbek. Shortly after leaving Bishmezzine, the road starts to climb. Before the road bends sharply to Ehden and starts its steep winding climb up the mountains there is a spring. We stopped to fill our water containers and to drink cold mountain spring water under the watchful eye of the Virgin Mary. This area of northern Lebanon is known for its fresh, clear mountain springs.
Niches with the Virgin and Jesus and other saints had been carved into the cliff, for Christian communities have lived in this region of mountains and spectacular valleys for hundreds of centuries. Water is a gift; the place is Holy, in Aramaic, Qadesha.The Virgin at the top looks over
the Qadisha Valley.