Having grown up between the Cedars and Beirut, I developed a natural longing for the mountains more than the beach. I’m not introversive, I just enjoy the peace and silence it provides me with, the open panorama and the endless landscapes, the views and the seasons; it is my definition of heaven.
But it is not only the destination that I love, but the road going up as well. Lately small highways are being built passing around the villages, to avoid people getting stuck inside each village, especially on Sundays during “kazdoura time” (promenade time) when villagers walk/drive around their village streets in a circle, stop here and there to chat, sit on the streets with their arguilehs and gossip.
These new roads, of course, make your drive up easier, with less traffic, but I still enjoy passing through each and every one of them on my way up. It gives me the spirit of belonging, it defines the areas that I have to go through to reach my heaven; it’s the little annoying things that make it so familiar.
Take for example the new road from Bcharre to the Cedars, it’s not exactly a highway, but it fits two cars easily, it has small walls on the sides to stop a drifting car from ending up at the bottom of the valley, and it’s an open road.
But I still prefer the old road, which is mostly used during storms, since the new road gets covered from strong winds every 5 minutes. Here is a short video of me driving up that road, it’s too beautiful to describe, yet people prefer the highway roads.
Another example is the highway built under the village of hadath el jebbeh up north, the road is safer than that of the village, but I still tend to drift through the village, especially around Christmas, for they have these beautiful decorations, yet extremely simple, that gets put up each year. Stars, stars on trees, stars on balconies, stars on road signs, and stars hanging off the roofs of the houses.
Unfortunately I do not currently have a picture, but will post it soon enough since Christmas is almost here with a pin-back to this post.
From these images you can see how the old vs. the new roads don’t vary much when you look at the distance from one spot to the other. It’s the view and the surrounding.
Of course when in a hurry the highway roads sound better than the village roads, and most Lebanese people are endlessly in a hurry for some reason, and no reason sometimes; but the spirit of the Lebanese villages, the calmness, the hospitality, and the recognition of a place cannot happen through highways, driving 100 km/h, and not taking the time to adopt the surroundings.
So when alone, or driving with my mum on a beautiful calm day, with nothing behind us, the small roads between the villages are always a must-take, just to be able to enjoy the beautiful and untouched landscaped and history of my country.
If you ever drive to the Cedars, try and take these little roads, and see how relaxed you are by the time you reach your destination. It’s simply mesmerising!