October 11, 2015

Changing Seasons

Looking out over the Beqaa Valley
Apologies for the quality; car got repaired, camera not yet, so this is taken with my phone (which has a cracked screen and is 4 years old)

The season has changed; in a matter of a week, the oppressive heat and sticky dust are gone, and the wind and rains have come in, cleaning up the place (a bit).  And so it's a good moment to pick up blogging again.
Magically, my car has been returned from the repair shop at about the same time. Interestingly enough, my lovely American engine has acquired the sound of a 1969 Volkswagen beetle. And not only that; its power matches it. From a wonderfully strong 6 cylinder engine, I think I am somewhere at a 3-cylinder car now. This requires a firm talk with the mechanics in question: a task which I currently am not in the mood for.  And so I ‘bubble’ along for the moment.

Beirut dog walkers on the run

Actually, what I really need is a James Bond car. You know, that simple looking vehicle that has some rocket propelled grenades stored in the front, and some in the back.  And then the next time guy in traffic cutting me off . . . ZAP! An RPG up his @ss. 

And for the people that honk their horn like a nanno second after the light turns green, or that flash their lights behind me because they want to take over when it is clear there is no way for me to go anywhere; KABENG! An RPG up their nose.  Oh, and those cars with blinded windows, that have that annoying sounding horn (you know the kind, well known from embassy convoys and politicians), they get one too.

And then I’ll be driving around town all Zen. Yeah. A James Bond car. That’s it.

Happy dogs on the trail

However, for lack of Zen in the automobile department, I will share happy moments with you in the mountains. I’ve been making many hikes up in the mountains above Beirut lately.
And even after so many years, I keep discovering new places and trails. There are a number of Beirut dog walkers (I mentioned them before), who also take to the mountains because walking a dog in Beirut is not for the faint-hearted. I understand the dog poop is annoying, but now Biel is barring dog walkers (for vague reasons) and even in Ashrafiya, a neighborhood that prides itself on its western mentality, you get nasty stares with a dog these days.  As long as you do not make the effort to go downtown to demonstrate against the current garbage debacle (and corruption, and unemployment, and mismanagement of electricity),  don’t nag about the dog poop, is my thought.

But then again, I have been told my communication skills lack empathy. 

Beqaa Valley in the distance, Syria is over the next mountain ridge. When the wind is 'right' (odd way to say it), you can hear the occasional explosions. 

And so on early mornings you can spot hikers with dogs way up in the mountains. It’s good to see that many more people are taking to the outdoors these days.  We encountered a couple of bike riders (there’s a nice trail open in Zaarour, for downhill mountain bikers, worth checking it out), who came to an abrupt halt when encountering a pack of dogs.  No worries though, these dogs don’t bite, and they continued their path. We did a nice 12.5 kilometers, walking over the mountain ridge all the way from one valley edge, Beirut and the coastal strip, to the other valley edge, overlooking the Beqaa Valley.

A couple of mountain bikers passed by

In summer, in Europe, I pay for hikes like this, because it is so exceptional, and far away from urban areas. Here it’s right next to Beirut, yet none knows about but a few outdoorsy souls and hunters (of course).  That has its advantages; no trash, except for the gun shells. Can we put a consignment fee on gun shells? So at least they pick them up after they shoot? An idea for the Minister of Environment maybe? And if we’re at it, how about a consignment fee for plastic bottles, glass bottles and car tires? All things you find practically everywhere. And how about a ban on plastic grocery bags?  

Done with MapMyHike (free app)

Anyway, if you want your Zen back, go hike; there are plenty of outdoor groups organizing hikes, in case you don’t know any good trails or don’t know how to get there).


Anonymous said...

Is that Heidi`s Alm-Uncle, or is it Walid?

Sietske said...

No, bamboo bill van burgers dierenpark.

jacob galama said...

O ja verrek, het is bamboe bill

jacob galama said...


Tanya Dernaika said...

The second best thing to hiking with you is reading your accounts. Very "zenful" and witty too.

Sietske said...

Thank you Tanya!! Just wait for the olive picking experience. I can see a post looming there!