Day 8 (June 30) – Beiteddine and Points South (Including UN Peacekeepers and Hezbollah)

Saturday marked our day of travels south through Beiteddine, Jezzine, a swing by Marjeyun and the Israeli border, and then back to Beiteddine for a Caracalla show.

Beiteddine was pretty cool.  The castle there was built by the Druze during the Ottoman period and has been beautifully restored since the Lebanese Civil War.  I was confused at the time as to why we were visiting the castle so early in the day, only to come back later that day for Caracalla, but as I will explain later, it was very much necessary.

After Beiteddine, we drove south to get a feel for the Chouf and other parts of Southern Lebanon.  It honestly was a completely different than the parts of the north we had been in.  Parts of the Bekaa had been Hezbollah areas, but it was nothing like the South.  The closer we got to the Israeli border, the more prevalent the yellow and green flags became.  For obvious reasons, we did not meet with any members of Hezbollah, but just driving through their portion of the country gave us more complete picture of politics in Lebanon.  For instance, there were memorials to martyrs and religious/political leaders everywhere:

Memorial in Southern Lebanon

Oh hey, look at those flags…

The wall behind the flags was a barrier built just in the last week prior to taking this photo (July 1).  Most of the border with Israel looks like this:

Lebanese-Israeli Border

We got to hang out with UN Peacekeepers. Awesome.

The peacekeepers on the wall were from Indonesia and were some of the niciest guys we met.  Since I got home, this great article about these peacekeepers performing some traditional dance posted on The Daily Star.

On the way back, we begged and pleaded for food, as we were quite starving (fi chips?) and stopped at probably my favorite sandwich shop.  Here’s a wall menu:

Om Nom Chicken Sandwich

That night, we went back to Beiteddine for Caracalla.  Again, we weren’t allowed to take pics, but I’m sure I can find some from Xlevis’ photos.  If you look at your website, you can get a great idea of what it’s all about.  Stunning costumes, Middle Eastern fusion music and dance, part-opera/part-ballet.  The show was completely in Arabic, but it was very easy to get the gist of the story.  One of the coolest parts of the show was the use of scrims as backdrops for projection.  At times, the actors would run off stage and you would watch them move throughout Beiteddine (pre-taped, of course).  Having explored the castle earlier that day, it was awesome to be like “Oh, I’ve been there!”  Check out this awesome photo gallery from The Daily Star.

All-in-all, our day in the South was very different than I had expected.  I had though it would be rough, dark, and unsafe compared to where we had been in the North.  But other than the Hezbollah flags everywhere, it was pretty much the same.  I’m glad I got to go, definitely, even if we didn’t hit Tyre and Sidon.  It was worth it to get a fuller picture of Lebanon.

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