The 40-Year Plan:
'cause it ain't gonna happen overnight...
A Web Photo Essay of Lebanon and Syria
The never-completed Roman temple of Jupiter in Baalbek, Lebanon. Photo by Ken Krayeske.
Reading the news about the Middle East never provided the context I needed to undertsand the the events occurrung there.
So one year ago, in Sept. 2005, I flew to Istanbul with intrepid traveler Liz Harris, then to Damascus. We then made my way back to Istanbul via land through Lebanon, Syria and Turkey hoping for a better perspective.
As this madness between Hezbollah and Israel has escalated, I am saddened to read about places we visited having been decimated and abandoned. I have tried to imagine the fate of people I encountered, like Mazen, the cab driver who took us from Damascus to Beirut. Mazen had a wife and child, and they lived in southern Beirut, an area heavily bombed in the current war.
Mazen and I pose in Zahle, Lebanon, the hometown of Ralph Nader's mother. The road Mazen took us on from Damascus to Beirut has been bombed heavily, and is barely passable. Photo by Liz Harris.
Or the man walking down the Corniche in Beirut selling pita breads. Beirut is often called the Paris of the Middle East, because it feels so European, sophisticated, multi-cultural and relaxed.
People mill about the Corniche, a walkway along the Mediterranean Sea. Photo by Ken Krayeske.
Kids won't be diving off the Corniche wall into the Mediterranean anymore because at least 40,000 gallons of oil from bombed out fuel depots at the nearby Hariri International Airport have spilled across the coastline. Photo by Ken Krayeske.
People in Lebanon were always friendly, warm and true to Arab custom, hospitable. Photo by Ken Krayeske.
And I've wondered about what happened to the people on the bus to Baalbek with Liz and I. I'm pretty certain the bus depot where we picked up this mini-bus was in southern Beirut, and has since ben destroyed. Buses like these have been targeted by the Israeli Air Force in the past month. Hopefully, the cease fire negotiated by the United Nations will work.
The ride from southern Beirut to Baalbek took about 3 hours. Many of the roads have since been destroyed. Photo by Liz Harris.
My experiences and memories are often at odds with current news accounts, because they seem to miss key historical points, and mostly, the steady stream of news misses the humanity of life in Lebanon.
During the coming days, I will try to publish some of these photos and what I learned on my trip to the Middle East a year ago.