Almost two months of traveling and finally my last stop before Brazil.
I could have chosen between Canada, Egypt or Lebanon, and the last one got my attention for some reasons. One week in Canada would not be enough, and it seems easier to go to Egypt from Europe. Not so many travelers visiting it, so it would be a different adventure.
Everyone got concerned. A country surrounded by areas in conflict. Israel on one side and the temerous situation in Syria on the other.
Approximately 5 million people live in Lebanon, and it is said that around 10 million Lebanese and descendents are in Brazil, making it known for everyone, not just about football and carnival. São Paulo is the city to be mentioned, and words like “amigo” (friend), “primo” (cousin) and even swear ones are famous in Beirut.
I thought that after Asia I would be used to any traffic in the world, but things in Middle East are a bit different. The honk is still beloved, although cars do not avoid you. Be fast and get your ass out of the way.
Vans are the main way of transportation. You do not need to find a specific stop, just stand by the road, and they will honk to ask if you want to join.
Hitchhiking could be dangerous. Members of Hezbollah were the main concern, but still I have to try it. Successfully I got a ride with a lady who had a daughter living in Brazil.
Going to a cave called Jeita Grotto (which competed for the New 7 Wonders of the World) I left the car with a free transportation and a Whatsapp contact. Not from the driver, but from her daughter. Mary, the mom, was really concerned about how a beautiful girl like Rita could have an awesome job but not a husband, and apparently I could be a solution for it. A session of pictures started and at the sight of a new one, lots of compliments about how pretty she was, and I have to say it was true, but no thanks.
On my way back from the cave a bit of nostalgia. A ride with a group of 11 Indians going back to Beirut, lots of questions, snacks, head moves and curious looks.
Lebanon surprised me.
Beirut is a way richer city than I thought.
Unfortunately there is not a Souk (or typical market) there, which gave place to fancy brand shops and expensive restaurants. Talking about that, what can I say about Lebanese food?
If there is a heaven, it is similar to a bite of a Shawarma, or hummus, or a kebab, or tabule, or or or, there are so many options.
If you want a more local experience, you have to get out of the capital. Tripoli is a good option. Old castles, markets and a true experience in the Middle East. And there it is possible to find a piece of Brazil. The building of the International Fair reminds us of Brasilia, capital of Brazil, and it is obvious why. Both have been projected by Oscar Niemeyer, the famous brazilian architect. It is a beautiful construction but unfortunately it is a bit abandoned.
On my last day I decided to visit Baalbek, a city known for its Roman ruins and for being a Hezbollah headquarter, a political party on this side of the world, however, responsible for attacks, especially in Israel.
The war from Beirut to the mountains is gorgeous. Snow, a view of the Mediterranean sea, the Mount Lebanon and many checkpoints of the Army.
The same road leads to Damascus, located less than 100km from the Lebanese capital.
Apart of all the surrounding difficulties, Lebanon seems a safe place to be.
The ruins in Baalbek are something extraordinary. They are one of the most conserved of the globe, and just a few tourists are seen around. Among them I met Peter and Ramona, he from the Netherlands and she from Romania. An intelligent and friendly couple who I followed around the ancient times.
Close to our farewell another surprising invitation was waiting for me. They were going to have lunch and then head back to Beirut. The world was playing nicely again. The meal has been the best in Lebanon and now I have friends to visit in Romania, where I will go in April.
The last night was a pure demonstration of how people love Brazil. The country’s name if instantaneously converted in a smile. Specific reasons for it are not clear, but it is unquestionable how it captivates so many people. Hopefully I will keep this image and show even more how nice we, Brazilians, can be.
This entry was posted in Middle East