Monday, November 20, 2006

Ahhhhh, Faraya!

What more fitting Sabbath, than a trip into the lovely ski resort town of Faraya, poised within a limestone rimmed canyon and home to stunning geology that rivals Utah's Monument valley, in miniature...An early knock on my door stirred me from the pleasure of my morning was Zena asking me if I was ready to leave - but to go where? "Oh, didn't Wael tell you? We're going rock-climbing." Although I knew we had work to do, I couldn't resist, particularly once Wael assured me that we'd have time to catch up in the evening. Thus far, my limited travels of Lebanon have taken me to many lovely places, but truly none has induced the immediate calm that came over me in the streets of tiny Faraya. Weaving through a sparsely populated village (by Lebanese standards) of trees in fall foliage, along the sinuous curves of the town's river, we stopped for my newest favorite, Manooshe - a lovely Arab flat bread baked to a nice crisp on an open-pit stove that looks more like an inverted cauldron. You can get it coated with jiban (cheese) or zaata (thyme), with olives (zaytun), tamaatim (tomatoes), and koosa (cucmber) tucked inside. In the city, you can get one of these very filling treats for a mere $0.30 US, but the manooshe in Faraya was well worth it's $0.60 US price tag.

After breakfast, we picked up Kemo, a climbing friend who won my heart with his "C'est moi qui decide!" t-shirt (you all remember - "I am the decider! I'm the one who decides!") and we drove along the upper rim of the valley, through the stunning ancient ruins that you see in the first photo. No was certain which era they were from (the debate was between Roman and Phoenician), but wandering through fragments of people buried in time stops my breath. How sad it is that many here don;t know what they have, and scraps from these remnants are hoisted off by locals for re-use, or buried over to build condos, or shops, or...

The 2nd and 3rd photos show the area we went to climb. I plan to upload climbing photos in a separate post, but as a first-timer, the local climbing club shared gear, expertise, and kind encouragement to me, Zena, and her friend Lena, all virgin climbers, who are all hungry for seconds!

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