Thursday, August 16, 2012
Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon. ” ~Moses
Last month Terry and I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Beirut, Lebanon to visit family! This was the trip of a lifetime and was full of wonderful new discoveries, adventures, friendships, food, and challenges. To be honest what stands out for me at this time are the challenges and for Terry, the adventures! That's why we belong together. Balance :-) So instead of focusing on challenges here, I am going to write two separate blogs. One about all of the amazing things we did and the other will focus on international travel tips when traveling with a wheelchair!
We arrived in Beirut and were welcomed by both hot humid air and a very aggressive eager Lebanese disabled traveler assistant. No English, but that didn't seem to matter to him. He motioned to Terry to get up and Terry just gave him one of those sheepish "I'm sorry" looks. The man finally realized he would have to transfer Terry from the plane seat to an isle chair. It was not pretty! But with the help of an airline attendant we were finally on our way!
Though we were at our final destination, the travel assistant did not seem to comprehend this. He was literally running through the airport pushing my husband leaving me to carry all the bags! I am laughing now as I imagine it but... Oh! right! No complaints in this one :-)
Anyway, praise the Lord Terry's mom and dad were there to save us from the speedy assistant. It is always wonderful to see family but after the trip over and Lebanese reception, it felt like we had been rescued!
While in Lebanon Terry and I stayed at the Union Office which is on the Campus of the Middle East University (I think). Mom and dad live in an apartment building with an elevator and though we may have been able to stay in their apartment, the elevator was not reliable. The city is only able to provide power to limited sections of the city at a time and when the city isn't providing power, residents can pay some independent and entrepreneurial businessmen who have a whole complex system of generators you can receive power from. But it seems that's not quite reliable either (or maybe mom and dad were not on that system). Either way, we didn't want to get stuck up, down, or in the elevator or have dad pull a muscle bringing Terry up and down the stairs!
Once we went to Mhanna, a fabulous Lebanese restaurant serving traditional dishes. We couldn't read the menu in Arabic so we took someone to interpret for us. We had hummus, baba ganoush, tabouli, some kind of bean thing, fresh vegetables, yogurt with mint (they eat a lot of mint), etc. And then after finishing that course and filling up, they took us to another table loaded with fresh fruits all piled high! It was spectacular.
In addition to the wonderful food, we saw some awesome sites. You cannot go to Lebanon and skip out on the history. Many people only think of the recent history of the country but ruins date all the way back to the Phoenician Empire and the city of Byblos is thought to be the oldest city in the world (and is still inhabited). While there we had the opportunity to visit Byblos, Baalbek, the Cedars of Lebanon, Tyre and Sidon!
Baalbek was perhaps the most exciting site! This is the location of the temple of Bacchus, the god of wine. This temple is huge, bigger than the Parthenon in Greece. Unfortunately I was sick here so I didn't really get to see much (maybe a heat stroke! It was horrible! Not complaining though :-))
One day we visited the Cedars of Lebanon as mentioned in the Bible. The following is when Hiram, King of Tyre sent word to Solomon the newly appointed king of Israel. Solomon told the king that he wished to build a temple to the LORD since his father David was unable to do so. Hiram offered the cedars.
Solomon- "So give order that cedars of Lebanon be cut for me. My men will work with yours, and I will pay you for your men whatever wages you set. You know that we have no one so skilled in felling timber as the Sidonians."
Hiram- "My men will haul them down from Lebanon to the Mediterranean Sea, and I will float them as rafts by sea to the place you specify. There I will separate them and you can take them away. Any you are to grant my wish by providing food for my royal household."
I Kings 5:6, 9
I can only imagine the rafts of cedars floating from Lebanon, past Beirut, and down to Jerusalem.
We really did have a wonderful time and would love to go back. If we do though, I would want to study more of the past and current history of the country and region. I learned a lot simply by observing but if I knew more background I am sure I would "see" more. The culture is rich and the language is beautiful and we just barely got a glimpse of it! I wish for more time and more money!