April 30, 2011

Serious Road Trippin’

The  river valley under Jezzine village

This morning, we decided to try again. To visit Jezzine, that is. This time, we went at it from the usual route; first to Saida and then inwards. Well, that was a reasonable uneventful trip. We got there, and that was it. There’s isn’t much to Jezzine. The surroundings of Jezzine are quite stunning though. We saw the waterfall at the edge of town, for which Jezzine is famous.

Jezzine Waterfall (with the rock slide on the path)

My father (96) wanted to see the waterfall up close. That involved a little mud path that was halfway blocked by a rock slide. Well, we had to practically drag my mother (90) to the waterfall. At every boulder she said; “Here’s a nice rock I can sit on. Why don’t you go ahead, and I will wait for you at this boulder.” My dad would have none of it. “You’ve come this far to see the waterfall, and now you will see it from up close.” So here I am dragging two seriously senior citizens, both with cane, my mother walking at a 90 degree angle, to the waterfall of Jezzine. It’s good we did not encounter any other tourists. They might have called the police on this one.

Some seriously senior citizens

We decided to take a more scenic route home. Since my GPS came back from the repair shop yesterday, I thought it might be a good idea to test the thing. It has ‘an updated’ map, the repair man said. Updated? Well, it lost us pretty soon. 
An 'existing' road
Actually, for a while it clearly indicated we were driving on an existing road, all the way to Bater ech Chouf, which is a collection of some farms in the Chouf. By then the road had stopped existing as such. We were driving on a pebble road, than a pebble and mud road, followed by a mud road, and finally a mud path with lots of deep puddles. 

Some serious mud
 And then my GPS got lost. Bater ech Chouf  was the last point it indicated, and then we were in the green. Literally. Green on the screen, green all around us. Ekkidinia trees, pine trees, olive trees, orange groves, oak forest and lots of other trees. Then we hit a river, which is called the Nahr Besri (Besri River, thank god for paper road maps!!) at that point. It changes into Nahr el Awali later on (some call it the Chouf River), and reaches the sea just a bit above Saida.
Pine trees

Eroded riverbank

Where's the road? What if I get oncoming traffic?

And so we drove on the south bank of the river via little mud paths, bits of riverbeds and sometimes even side arms of the river, all the way to Besri. I tell you, serious sports bra material, this trail.
At one point we had to cross the river. It did not look very deep, but we had been out of civilization for a good hour now. What if I got stuck? In the middle of the river. Call the AAA? I wouldn’t even know how to explain where we were. I didn’t know where we were. Go by foot in search of a shack and ask them if they could pull me out?   
Bigger river
 I’m married to a Lebanese. Any women married to a Lebanese knows that these are not the moments you call hubbie for help. They completely freak out. I can just picture the scenario. “You’re where? Where?! What do you mean, you don’t know where? You’re stuck in what? What? I didn’t hear you! A river? You got stuck in a river! Where the fuck are you! What are you doing in the middle of nowhere in a river?!  Jesus Christ, I’m at work, I can’t deal with this shit right now!”
Shall we cross?
But heck, going all the way back on the same road, after reaching the bottom of the valley, that would be a defeat. There was no turning back. And so through the river we went. I could tell you how the water reached the doors and started seeping in, how we started floating, but alas, none of that excitement. It was as if we ran through a puddle. Easy as a piece of pie.

On the other bank, we ran into a runaway donkey, and some cows, and more fields and trees. The place is absolutely stunning! Empty and perfectly clean. For 2 hours we did not see one car or one soul! Not one bag of garbage. This is a Lebanon that even I hadn’t encountered yet. 

Runaway donkey
We finally ran into a little truck with two farmers. Where’s the real road, I asked, pointed ahead of me. The real road? The real road is there, he replied, as he motioned his hand in the direction we just came from. “Where are you heading?” he asked.
Beirut,” we said.
Ooooooohhhhh,” they called out in unison, and started laughing. Beirut, it was clear, was nowhere near. But another hour ahead, they said, and we’d hit Besri , and from there was the road to Saida.
And so we hobbled and hopped around for another hour, in a beautifully quiet valley, surrounded by farmland and forests. Igot so many beautiful shots, I could fill a bog (I think I did). You'll need to use your imagination or the rest.

And that was some serious road tripping! We owe it all to Jezzine. Or actually those soldiers that stopped us last time at the check point. If it weren’t for them, we’d never have discovered the Besri River Valley. Somewhere near Joun, the GPs suddenly founds us back again.
Besri River (some call it the Chouf River) or Nahr el Awali


joseph said...

Nice pics and story.

On something unrelated, below is one Lebanese writer explaining why the Lebanese don't challenge the 'barking' rules you blogged about recently.


Anonymous said...

Stunning pictures and scenery !!!
Sietski you've probably seen of Lebanon much more than any usual lebanese would see in his entire life !

Anonymous said...

On a side note , why don't you put a link to your main page on your banner ? your little link at the end of the page isn't really visible...

nicolien said...

Haha! And here I thought only *my* Lebanese husband reacts that way in such situations...

(Hij lachte niet zo hard om dit stukje als ik...)

Danielle said...

I cannot believe that your 90 year old parents were up for something like this! That's truly incredible! Even my grandparents had to sit out when we went to Baalbeck! Wowwwwww..I'm really impressed.