It is spring time in Lebanon, and the wildflowers are coming out in full force. Although we’re officially situated in a desert biome, this place is absolutely green. I went on a number of walks (read strolls) over the long weekend, and the place was teeming with flowers.
A meadow in Jabal el Knisse (above Hammana)
A side-effect is the ticks; the place is teeming with those as well. Although I haven’t heard of Lyme disease in Lebanon (everyone over here is obsessed with swine flu at the moment), I had to pick off at least 20 ticks per dog every time I took them through the fields. And H. – after first giving an intricate explanation as to how come her dog had ‘fallen’ into her bed at night - woke up this morning with a tick right under her eye, and another one on her body. Well, you know what they say when you sleep with dogs.
Parasol Pine Forest
A staircase in the forest
Ground covered with Cistus salviifolius
On Saturday, I walked through a parasol pine forest, the ground covered with white flowers, until we - in the middle of the forest – stumbled upon a staircase that led all the way to the top of the hill, where a gate gave access to an abandoned house overlooking a cliff and the valley of the Beirut River. A beautiful property, obviously abandoned during the civil war and never fixed since, stood on top of the cliff. We strolled around the property for a good hour, looking into all the buildings and rooms and gardens. When I asked hubbie what the words on the garden gate read, he replied: “Beware; mines.”
There are a lot of monumental houses here that were (partially) destroyed during the war and never rebuild. It is a pity, because there is plenty of new construction going on, so obviously there is a need for housing here. Mind you, these are all summer residences, for when Beirut gets too hot and humid in the summer. And a lot of them go to Gulf Arabs. In winter time this place is pretty dead.
On Sunday, we played Heidi in the Alpine meadow, on the mountain top above Hammana, where the Sohat water factory gets its water. There’s a double waterfall, which is the beginning of the Beirut River, but access is difficult. You have to walk along an old irrigation channel to get there, and in some parts the narrow channel is all there is between a mountain wall and a sheer drop, which is tricky to negotiate with a 6-year old and a blind/deaf dog in tow. On the other hands, it ensures the pace stays clean. The waterfalls look over Hamana and the valley. There were thousands of flowers in the meadow. A 'Heidi' meadow above Hammana. In the distance you can see the bridge (one of some 70) that got bombed in 2006 by the Israelis. It is stillbeing rebuilt.
The Beirut River, which starts so beautifully, ends very unceremoniously in a sewer canal in Karantina.
I think I have plugged this web site before, but it has categorized all the Lebanese wildflowers, and I have never seen as many different flowers as the region in which I am now (Hamana/Baabda), which is a region some 35 kilometers east of Beirut.