|On top of Mount Kniesseh. It's not the highest point in Lebanon, but I find it by far the best looking one.|
Work has been particularly stressful since I have been back. New management, difficult work place circumstances and many after-hours meetings. Getting back in the routine after two months off doesn’t help much either. Apart from that, the mood in town isn't great. The current Daash crisis (ISIS in the western media) is not exactly uplifting. People are anxious, and waiting for what seems to be inevitable; these guys are going to come knocking on our doors pretty soon too. Their flags are already flying in some parts of Tripoli. Granted, these are isolated cases, but still.
America threatening to bomb them to smithereens is hardly comforting. Large bombing campaigns have never amounted to much (ask the Israelis and the Americans); it only results in more refugees. My SIL had a hard time getting her son into a school this fall; all schools were fully-booked due to the increase in pupils from Syria. They can't help it. But it doesn't help us either.
And so I have spent more time than usual in the mountain house; it is a great stress reliever, as there is absolutely nothing to do there except stare into the forest and the mountains.
We take the dogs way up in the mountains, and explore the neighborhood. Way up high, on top of the Mnt. Kniesseh (Jabal el-Kniesseh, highest point on the Highway between Beirut and Damascus), nobody is afraid of dogs; the only people we see are shepherds, and they have dogs themselves. Sometimes we get caught in troops of goats; their dogs are fierce, but they do notmind us as long as we stay away from the goats.
|No clue why he scares the living day lights out of people. He's looks like a raccoon and he's absolutely gentle.|
The war in Syria has brought other small changed in the country. Dogs are not greatly appreciated in Arab society to start with, but the influx of an in general more conservative population has made it difficult at times to walk the dogs in town. Entire families change sidewalks and cross over to the other side of the street when I come by. I understand why, but it is not exactly relaxing. Up here in the mountains they run free and don’t scare the living daylights out of anybody.
From the top, you can see the Mediterranean Sea, the Beqaa Valley, and far in the distance the mountain range that separates us from Syria. It is odd to realize that less than75 kilometers from here lies Damascus, where a full-scale war is being fought. We used to go there on holidays. Drove the car all the way over the country, from Aleppo in the north, Bosra in the south, Palmyra in the desert and the Euphrates River in the east. All of that is now destroyed by war. A war that is going to last another 5 years for sure, but most likely many more years, and more and more areas are going to be dragged into this conflict.
Only one mountain ridge, and not such a big one at that, separates us physically from the conflict. Emotionally, it has drawn us in already. Uncertain times are on the horizon.