What Makes Lebanon Such An Idiot-ic Country On The Mediterranean Sea?

The Idiot postpones the walk along the coast of Syria and, after hiking around Cyprus, resumes the MedTrek towards Egypt at the Syria/Lebanon border.

It took The Idiot just three days of MedTrekking on the Lebanon coast north and south of Beirut to remind himself of the unique historical, cultural, religious, ethnic, military and political diversity found at this Mediterranean basin crossroads sandwiched between Syria and Israel.

The state of the seaside — dotted with obstructive military installations and ramshackle homes with unsanitary living conditions that vividly contrast with sophisticated beach clubs, chic marinas and lavish construction projects — tells part of the story.

Military facilities frequently make it difficult for The Idiot to walk on the beach or rocks.
Is this lookout meant to make MedTrekkers feel secure or part of an anti-beautification project?
Living conditions, like these ramshackle homes primarily for Palestinian and Syrian refugees in dodgy Ouzai south of Beirut, are not always five star.
MedTekkers meet tanks as they stroll through downtown Beirut.

But it is the eerie and surreal yang-and-yin contradictory effect that makes Lebanon so intirguing. Within steps of the intimidating tanks and smelly sewage-filled seaside hovels are calm sidewalks, spotless marinas and new buildings.

The peaceful seaside promenade in Beirut at 7 pm.
A texting roller blader near Beirut’s Saint George Yacht Club and Marina obscures my photograph of the new Citadelle skyscraper rising in the background.
A young Muslim woman relaxes at the marina in Beirut.
Waterfront City (www.waterfrontcity.com) is being constructed adjacent to the marina in Dbayeh north of Beirut.

Religions, cultures and lifestyle also coexist side-by-side.

A minibus in Journieh makes it clear that this is a predominantly Christian part of the country.
A resort for ladies only, which caters primairly to Muslim women, got The Idiot off the beach for a moment south of Beirut.

Refreshingly, nature and history are a constant presence.

A stunning rock formation off the Beirut seaside.
The enticing ruins at Byblos, which is perhaps the world’s oldest inhabited city, seen from the top of a 12th century citadel.
A pristine and quiet beach for an Idiot-ic tent.

Tomorrow: How Does The Idiot Meet A Nun, A Bodyguard, A Handyman And The Police In Lebanon?

Joel Stratte-McClure, an American journalist/adventurer who lived in France for over three decades, is the author of “The Idiot and the Odyssey: Walking the Mediterranean” (2008) and “The Idiot and the Odyssey II: Myth, Madness and Magic on the Mediterranean” (2013).

He is currently based in Northern California but travels regularly to the Mediterranean to gather anecdotes and add kilometers for his third book in this series: “The Idiot and the Odyssey III: Walking the Mediterranean in the Footsteps of Alexander the Great” (2018).

Follow The Idiot @ www.followtheidiot.com

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