The river flows and brings life back to this soil. It tells tales of life in a never-ending flowing pattern of liveliness. Calm and fast-flowing but unsuspecting of the path ahead it flows and ends up in the Mediterranean Sea, where it tumbles with its glorious white droplets of pure life soon to be immersed in uniformity with it as they mend as one.
Try to capture the sun-soaked skin and those visionary sparkles of the sea, which exist only between blinks. Some places you discover, somehow stay with you long after you’ve left. Places that seem to have lost their notion of time, where life seems to march to a different rhythm, a much mellower one.
The Mediterranean Sea hides amongst its waves stories told and retold, waters so rich in history that would quench any thirsty storyteller on its salty shores. Such is the story of a small coastal town 23 km south from Beirut with a 7km sandy beach named Jiyeh. When the monk Godard visited the village during the 1900s, he described Jiyeh as a town fenced and surrounded by palm trees, and cactus plants.
The Mediterranean breeze waves wash upon a soothsayer sand beach whispering love poems between each sigh. Lustrous sunshine, massaging with temperate, beams beneath the waves. Turtles twist in tubular turnabouts as the shimmering sunshine shines through waves casting shadows and light amongst a sea spectrum. A faint breeze ghosts through the swaying banana trees. Crabs scuttle along the precipice of the sea and sand, as the waves wash the crooked edges of stones. This is the idyllic habitation where sea turtles meet the sand to lay their eggs in hope that one day those tiny creatures left defenseless will meet their sea again.
The tall pines pick at sunlight piece by piece. The light splinters branch by branch lies scattered on the forest floor beneath. The innocence of the pines is obvious in this serene place.
The Phoenicians first manufactured bronze knives before moving to the use of more noble metals like silver and gold. Archeologists have found a strikingly handsome and modern silver knife incrusted with gold, in a royal tomb in Byblos dating from the 19th century B.C.
“In Khiam prison we died a hundred times every day. Torture included electric shocks, being tied naked to a whipping pole for hours under the burning sun in the summer and snow in the winter, and getting whipped and beaten continuously with metal rods, wires and nightsticks. We were caged and treated like animals. Believe me, it wasn’t so much about the pain, but the humiliation.”
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On a high hill overlooking the Mediterranean some 30 miles south of Beirut lies the pilgrimage town of Maghdoucheh, famous for its 30-meter bronze shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It was here in Maghdoucheh that the Virgin Mary is said to have waited in a cave for her son Jesus to return with his disciples after preaching in nearby in Sidon. The statue, which depicts Mary holding Jesus in her arms, weighs a hefty six tons and was built in 1963 above the cave in which Mary was believed to have waited.
As you drive past Tyre and its crowded streets, the scenery becomes more rural and the sky flat above you welcomes you to a clear view of a lonely road leading to Palestine with nothing but open blue skies. There is something quiet enchanting about a road by the sea that hasn’t been tampered by civilization. Although this whole region has been occupied by Israeli forces not long ago and has seen some atrocities, today it lies calmly drifting on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
Underdeveloped infrastructure, overgrown vegetation and the sea overlooked by palm trees, as Banana grooves run for miles along the coast, act as a thick green barrier between the blue Mediterranean and the pot holed roadway running from Sidon to Tyre. The name of the city means, rock after the rocky formation on which the town was originally built.