I guess I can pack up my skies again; the season was sweet but short. How these ski-operators survive on a business that basically only runs about 8 weekends a year is beyond me. But spring has definitely set in. I am sitting on my balcony now in a T-shirt. Yesterday I went into the country with some friends who have a similar project as I do. Actually, we do not have a similar project, but we both have a project set out for our future (I think we’re both thinking 10 years from now) that involves donkeys.
|The donkey, called 'stubborn' (although they're not stubborn at all)|
My plan involves the purchase of a donkey that I will then hike with; they plan to start up a project that will involve reviving the abandoned country side in Portugal, while at the same time creating a local economy, and allowing people to share ideas on how to live a more ecological friendly way of life. Basically making ecological living a sound alternative to our current consumer oriented economy. Anyway, word was that there was someone who had a donkey sanctuary somewhere in the hills above Aamchiit.
I thought I had seen pretty much all of this country, but I must have missed this part, which is crazy, because it is so close to Beirut really and absolutely beautiful. And it is perfect donkey hiking country. You see, every year in France, I rent a donkey, and hike through an area for a couple of days. I usually go with some other friends, and these holidays are memorable experiences. I don’t like carrying backpacks, so the donkey takes care of that. But having hiked now for a number of years with donkeys, I have grown immensely fond of these animals.
|My daughter with her first donkey. She was 7 then.|
My first time was in 2009. It’s a big thing these days in Europe, hiking with a donkey. And I know that hiking in Lebanon has only just started taking off (the Mount Lebanon Trail is a good example for that), so taking it to the next step - hiking with the family ánd a donkey - is maybe taking it a bit too far, because we like our comfort and I do not see the Lebanese bunking in hostels and sharing bathrooms, but it would be so perfect to be organizing this type of tourism here.
|The church at Smar Jbeil (we just drove through. Now that I look up what's in Smar Jbeil on the Internet, maybe I should have stayed a bit longer :)|
Anyway, it turns out it was not a donkey sanctuary, but a bio farm with a donkey. This concept is also on the rise in Lebanon. It started with Souq el Tayeb, an original farmers market, and now it’s slowly flooding into the community; People who have a piece of land, and who like to go for a more environment -friendly way of producing and consuming, are starting up small businesses. We were given a tour by the lovely Rosie, who owns the farm, (From farm to Fork) and who run a restaurant in summer where they serve only their home-grown products. We spoke about the dilemmas of being environmental and viable at the same time, so do you say yes or no to aregilehs? The answer is yes, which is why I doubt that Lebanese will go for hiking with a donkey at this point in time, as you’ll need to do your business behind a bush while on the trail and this may be a dilemma for quite a number of people.
|Another church, one village down the road from Smar Jbeil, Mrah Chdid (I think)|
But it is a start, and it is good to see more and more people thinking of ways to slow down our way of life. I guess this last bit has to do with age, though. When you’re young, you’ve got this whole life in front of you, and things cannot go fast enough. And then when you’re halfway, you suddenly realize, “holy shit, I’ve used up half already, better slow down.” Which is the point at which I am currently. I’ve got to slow down!
|View from St. Rafka's tomb (had never even heard of this one). Interesting.|
On our way back, we kept running into these wonderful little authentic churches, and tombs of saints with supposedly miraculously healing powers, so we visited them all. So that was my Saturday.