Little Australia in Lebanon
Tripoli Travel Blog› entry 12 of 32 › view all entries
This morning I took the bus up into the hills and the Qadisha Valley, which is the stronghold of the Maronite Christians. The bus was meant to be a fraction the price of the shared taxi but as the driver was on the phone when I boarded, I couldn’t confirm the price ... so he overcharged me at the end ... but it wasn’t by much in the scheme of things. It was a very Christian mix of passengers and a very Christian bus with its adornments ... so how very Christian of the driver too! But the need to make a living (or sometimes greed) overrides any religious belief.
I hopped off the bus at a village called Bcharre which is the home and resting place of Khalil Gibran, a famous poet (things like that are lost on me).
On board my flight from Dubai to Beirut, I sat across from a 71 year old Lebanese Australian (Pat) who invited me to his village Kfar Sghab. From Bcharre, there were no shared taxis so it would have been a private taxi only ... the driver wanted too much so I tried hitching. I soon found that I didn’t have the right assets for the job.
When I had given up, I TXTed Pat to say that I wouldn’t be making it but he picked me up from Bcharre. After a stop to have his car washed and valet’ed we proceeded to his holiday home ... it was a stone, concrete and marble mansion.
His grandson was with him and his brother was coming up with another family member from Sydney tonight. What impressed me what the Lebanese in Australian try their best to maintain their culture:
- Some come to visit annually and escape the Aussie winter.
- They own homes here.
- The second generation born in Australia (ie. grand children in this case) visit too ... and they can even speak Arabic still.
- They’re still strongly religious, (Maronite Christian in this case).
There is a Parramatta Road in Kfar Sghab. About 15,000 Australians trace their roots to this town!
I’m grateful for the hospitality ... I was offered lunch, arak, to stay, shower etc. After nice long chats on the balcony overlooking the Qadisha Valley, I was dropped back to the lowlands on the side of the motorway to bus back to Tripoli (they had to head to the Airport to pickup bro). I didn’t leave empty handed as I was given a goody bag of Lebanese sweets (I refer to them as cakes).