Baalbek – Saïda (Part 2)

Next day, Sunday, we went to a Maronite mass. We were welcomed and invited to have breakfast with Abuna Tony (the priest), who belongs to the Lebanese Maronite Order. There were also some friends of him which whom we could share a bit about Taizé. Afterwards we pass by USPeaK: an organization who  trains social leaders and professionals through English courses and other initiatives, aiming to build democracy, citizenship and peace. The director, Rawan Yaghi, welcomed us and explained that at the moment they work with Syrian with middle and high level of education, instructing them to become English teachers. Close to Baalbek we saw a Palestinian refugee camp –there are 450.000 Palestinian living in Lebanon, a half of them living in camps. In our way to Zahleh, the capital of Bekaa, we passed by many small villages, each one of them belonging to a different confession. We continued by the highway Beirut-Damascus, direction to Syria, until the Jesuits convent of Tanaïl. We had lunch with the community and we visited the farm and the shop they have there – they have as well a park where a lot of families go for walks on Sundays.

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We followed the highway to Anjar, an old town resettled in 1939 with several thousand Armenian refugees escaping from the genocide at the hands of the Turkish. There we could see a stronghold built by an Umayyad Caliph in the 8th century. From the road we saw the Mount Hermon, which straddles the border between Syria and Lebanon, and now is also occupied by Israel –the United Nations have a permanent position there. We stopped to contemplate the Lake Qaraoun. From there we were approaching the Israeli border and we perceived a lot of UN presence. We passed by, among other villages, Marjaayoun and Qlaaya. As the road was quite high in the mountains, we were able to recognize Galilee not far away. We arrived to the borderline, a big wall –there is no crossing point between Lebanon and Israel. Although it was getting dark, we decided to go up to the Beaufort Castel, a Crusader fortress used until 2000. From there we could observe an Israeli settlement and bunkers. Then we drove to Sidon, where we were welcomed by the three brothers working in the Fratelli project: Andrés from Mexico (La Salle) and Miquel and Isaac (Marists). We had supper together with the brothers and a family that came to visit them and we ended the day with a prayer.

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