March 11, 2016

Slow Days

The plateau of Falougha. Water is supposed to come crashing down here in spring (see picture)
Slow posts coming your way. Not much happening these days. I work. I hike. I hang out with friends. I work some more. It’s a little boring. I miss having adventures, hanging out in camps, going to demonstrations and visiting front lines. It can’t be adrenaline all the time, one of my editors once told me, but life’s a little slow for my taste at the moment. I need a little upheaval, but am afraid to ask for much, because upheavals in Beirut tend to get out of hand quickly.
This is where the river would run, had there been any on the plateau. Instead, lots of wild flowers

So another slow post. Spring has arrived, a month early, and I went for a hike. This hike is close to Beirut, on the plateau above the Chahrour waterfalls of Hammana. The area is called Falougha, and it’s a bit of a weird place. For years and years the Syrians set up camp here, and so it was not accessible. When they left, the Lebanese army established a base there, and they use it to teach their soldiers how to drive tanks and shoot RPG’s and the like. Shepherds land there with their troops in summer as well.
 I thought it would be wet and muddy, with all the melting snow, and I was sort of hoping to see the water crash over the cliff down into the valley, as this picture suggests. Well, no water crashing over the cliff. Fields of yellow flowers on the upper part instead.
This water comes from within the mountain
Part of the he waterfall is up and running though, but the water comes from within the mountain. It is strange to realize that inside this mountain there is this huge reservoir with water that discharges, 24 hours a day 7 days a week, a steady flow of water. I am not sure how these aquifers function, but the one in Jebel Knisseh (which is the name of the mountain) is one of the biggest in Lebanon. So there’s either this immense cave in there (hollow mountain?), or it seeps from layer to layer, not sure how.  In my next life I am going to be a geologist.

No waterfall to be seen
This constant water flow has not been lost on the government, who are now building a dam on the upper part of the plateau. This sounds a little useless to me, because the stone is porous; that is why the water ‘sinks’ into the mountain, where it is stored, and then it leaves again through a number of springs, of which the waterfall is one of the largest. Building a dam right there where it is clear it sinks into the mountain is lost on me. There are quite a few people in Hammana, the town overlooking the waterfall, against this dam. They’re afraid that their steady water supply is being tinkered with. Building dams these days is quite controversial, not just from an ecological point of view, but it seems even sectarianism can get involved.
Lots of caterpillar nests though
Anyway, with our track record, this dam will most likely either never be completed because funding suddenly stops, not operate because they forgot to install the final vent or they cannot decide on what sect will occupy the post of dam manager, or nor function longer than 6 months because someone will have forgotten to order spare parts or the maintenance manager is incompetent and the money needed to order spare parts ended up in his pocket. That’s how it goes. In the mean time, it does provide much needed work for that region, much like the Edgar Hoover Dam project.  So. a nice hike, some 40 km above Beirut.
And pretty blue flowers

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