Sunday, January 3, 2010

on the road to Baalbek part 3

My story about going to Baalbek is long and I don't know if I'll ever get around to telling it all. But I will give you some fragments. I have told you 2 parts, traveling towards the Qadesha Valley and visiting the church of our Lady in Ehden, but these too are truncated versions of my wonderful adventures. I have more to tell you about Ehden, but I will return to that at some date, but I've promised you other stories before, which are still outstanding.

When you leave Ehden and pass Hatchit (place of the best zaatar pies ever!) and Bscharre (Khalil Gibran's birth place) and the Cedars (the remnants of a once majestic forest that covered the entire land), the road becomes more desolate, with only wildflowers to greet you.
The snow on top of the mountain surprises you as you were sitting outside in Hatchit in short sleeves enjoying your zaatar pie and about 50k away in Tripoli it is so sweltering that that is the last place you would want to be in the afternoon. The vegetation changes dramatically before your eyes the higher you go. These green cushions are not comfy cushions but balls of hard thorns. I ran to touch them, and they surprised me. It seems they may be some sort of mountain thyme or savory. No wonder the zaatar pies are so delicious around here.
As you wind up the road to the top of Qurnat es Sawda, even the wildflowers fall behind. The air gets clearer and colder. You pull your hoodie on. The air feels fresh and invigorating. You feel clear headed. Quiet.
Finally, you get to the top of Qurnat es-Sawda, the highest mountain in Lebanon, about 3050 metres above sea level. When you look west, you look out towards the Mediterranean Sea. The wind is fierce here.
Sawda is a woman's name. Who she was, I don't know. I'm sure my brothers- and sister-in law told me, but I will have to ask them again. She is one of 3 majestic mountains, Kornet es-Sawda, the mighty goddess of the north, planted by the hand of God with those divine trees, our cedars says one story. Every time you go to a place in Lebanon you will hear a story about it. The next time you go you will hear another story. I will tell you on story about that stone building in another story.
When you turn to look east you will see the majestic Biqa/Bekaa Valley, which is where food is grown, as well as more lucrative crops in these times of the increasing push to neoliberal policies that promote in import of foreign foods from France and Germany. The Biqa Valley looks like a huge patchwork quilt of green, gold and red. It seems to go on forever.
From this point, the road begins to wind downwards. You have to cross the Biqa Valley to reach Baalbek, which is the highest point of land in the valley. It seems impossible to you that you will reach Baalbek in an hour or so because the distances appear vast and incomprehensible.
At the top of Qurnat as Sawda you begin to do crazy things. We all felt so invigorated that we were all jumping and running around. It has something to do with the air, the heavens surrounding you, the wind, the vault of the sky, the vast spaces in which you are between, and the sheer majestic moment of it all. You get drunk on just being there. Intoxicated. So you do all sorts of crazy things. I shouted to my husband, take a picture of me doing a Warrior Pose!

8 comments:

marja-leena said...

Such beauty even in treeless lands and what a view!

northshorewoman said...

It is interesting and beautiful land. Can you imagine how this area must've looked thousands of years ago when it was covered in ancient cedars?

Ari said...

Where are the cedars now ?? People of those ancient days would have needed their "Copenhagen" as well.

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Paulo Tennis said...

Hi. Great pictures!! I like very very much your blog.
Keep doing.
If you want, you can visit my blog.

Happy new year!!

20th Century Woman said...

I have been reading "Annals of the Former World" about how mountains rise and crumble. I tried to remember whether there was anything in it about the beautiful mountains in your pictures.

I love your warrior pose.

northshorewoman said...

Hello all, thank you for your comments. The majestic cedars of Lebanon were stripped away hundreds and hundreds of years ago. All of our places, however, have memories of what was once but most do not know. Here in the Thunder Bay region we used to have massive herds of caribou running through our lands. Now there are only 16 in a provincial park safe haven. 16.

Mountains are sacred throughout the world and I imagine reading about their beauty is wonderful. In one of my classes we discussed the changes to Mt Everest (which, of course, has another name, a female name in its original pre-colonial presence) and it is shocking. The more we can preserve these sacred places the more we can pass on to our grandchildren of the sacredness of earth, our home.

I'm not sure if the Chinese words are comments or curses or spam, but I will leave them there. If they are rude, let me know!

I always hope to find time to visit other blogs as I am often inspired by what other people are blogging about! The diversity of content and styles is amazing!

Stanislav said...

Hey!
Trip to the Qurnat as Sawda looks like nice tip how to spend a day..I'm going lo Lebanon during summer and I'm already gathering some informations,so I would like to ask how could be summit reached (is there a roadway which can be seen on some pics?) Or if you could provide some link to a webside about "how to get to Qurnat as Sawda" it would be really great!
Thank you!
Stanislav (stan.vanek@gmail.com)