March 15, 2016

More Slow Days


Second place. She's happy about it.

I know I should probably pay some attention to the growing heap of garbage in our country, or to the fact that we are sinking into our own trash. I sort of predicted years ago we were sinking, so I am pleased other people are noticing it too. It is inevitable, it seems (hat tip to Kadmous). But I am quite happy ignoring the tremendous mess we’re in. I only focus on the good, and it keeps me happy. I am not the only blogger using this tactic.

 
The Lebanese Army had a lot of runners participating, hence the photographers in camouflage
 
This weekend I went way down south, to the most southern part of the country you can go, before you run into serious problem; Naqoura. One of the athletic clubs in Lebanon, Elite,  had organized a 10 K race there, and Aregu Abateh, the Ethiopian housekeeper, ran her first race, after an absence of almost 10 month from the Lebanese running scene.

Her last race, in June 2015, did not end on a happy note. Even though she managed to get the 2nd place, she ran the last 6 kilometers with a fractured fibula. As a result, she did not get to attend a French training camp, and she had to hobble around on crutches and a plastic leg. This experience did not sit well with her. And although 3 different doctors all told her she’s be up and running in no time, she was not convinced. But slowly she’s been trying again, and this weekend, she finally decided it was time to get back in business. And back in business she is; second place.
She’s not yet in her old form, but she’s got her confidence back, and it won’t be long before winner takes all again.
 
Sour's boulevard
 

The race, which is held annually, attracts quite a few runners, both from the UN as well as the regular Lebanese athletes, despite being so far away from Beirut.  
Naqoura is not much of a town; The UNIFIL has its headquarters down there on the border with Israel, but other then oranges, lemons and banana plantations, life is pretty quiet in the south. Beaches are pristine and urbanization has been kept to a minimum due to ongoing problems with the southern neighbor. The UNIFIL is a source of income for many southerners.  
 
The old light house in Sour
 
 
Getting to Naqoura is a bit of a hassle as it is inside the old security zone, and you need special permission – if you are not Lebanese or you do not have a residency permit – from the army in Sidon to enter. I remember the very first time I entered the zone, as a journalist, in 1991: I thought the place looked so clean in comparison to the rest of the country.  No haphazard architecture, and that still is the case, even though it became accessible in 2006, when the Israelis got sent home.  
 
Ruins right on the sea side
 
Sour (or Tyre), also in the south, is bigger, lively and very much my kind of town. Tiny enough to explore on foot, plenty of seaside cafes and restaurants to enjoy the sunsets, lot of archeological stuff to delve through, a historic past to read up on, and not a lot of shopping to do, so you don’t go home bankrupt.  And that’s how I spent my weekend.
Sour and its surrounding land
 

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