Lebanon

Damascus to Bcharre, Lebanon

Memories

I will explain why I chose this song later.

We had left our Hotel in Damascus, and were on the corner of the street waiting the car that was to take us to Bcharre, Lebanon.

We will not do this next time, as we spent the next ten minutes explaining to every taxi in Damascus, that we didn’t need a taxi.

They were queuing up to ask us if we required a taxi. It seems funny to us now.

The drive to the Lebanon/ Syrian border was a good one as the road was extremely good. I think it had been built for the Syrian Military.

We passed through several little villages and watched the snow on the AntiLebanon mountains. The AntiLebanon mountains is the Western name for the Eastern Lebanon Mountain Range.

While we were traveling the radio was on and I will always remember this song. It seemed so strange that we are in a place George W Bush called one of the member countries of the “Axis of Evil” and  here ( Wendy and I) are traveling from Damascus to Beirut listening to Boney M singing

“Rivers of Babylon”.

I always feel happier when I have some-one who knows the language with me when we are going through border crossings. Especially when you are in a place like Syria and Lebanon.

We also passed a bridge that looked like it was under repair for some reason, when I suddenly remembered I had seen this bridge on TV the previous year when the Israeli Air-force had fired missiles at it to prevent Syria supplying Hezbollah with weapons.

“BEIRUT, Lebanon — Israeli warplanes struck the highway linking Beirut to the Syrian capital of Damascus early Friday, closing the country’s main artery and further isolating Lebanon from the outside world, Lebanese security officials said.

Fighter jets attacked a highway section high in the mountains of central Lebanon, in Mdeirej.”

 It wasn’t long before we were heading downhill and we could see in the distance the blue. The Blue of the Mediterranean Sea.

And Beirut, this amazing city with such a history. Not always happy, but it certainly is a city of intrigue.

It was about here, just as we were entering Beirut that our driver pulled over to the side of the road and spoke to some taxi drivers. We should have taken more notice at the time when he said that they wouldn’t take us with out more money.

A little further on he pulled over again and spoke to another taxi driver who said he would take us to Bcharre.

Yes!! We are on our way to Bcharre. We put our luggage in the taxi. He offers Wendy and Gail some flowers, everyone is smiling and off we go.

We are heading North through the city and are soon driving along the coastline.

“Hey Wendy look the Mediterranean Sea, I wonder if Grandad  must have seen it from here when he passed through”

A short time later we pulled in to a service station and refueled. Then the driver tells us he needs more money. We all look at each other with stunned amazement.

“We only just gave you $50. US  a few minutes ago,  and you were happy with that.”  He reply’s that he has just put $60 of petrol in the taxi, and needs more before he will continue on to Bcharre.”

We had seen him put in $16 worth of petrol and tried t explain that we saw this, and that he had told us he would take us to Bcharre for $50.

Wendy tells me that he can’t be Lebanese, he must be a Palestinian or some other middle east nationality.

He tells us that he will go no further till we pay him extra. Backs his car off the forecourt, turns the motor off and says he is stopping here till we pay him. We make ourselves comfortable and say we are very tired too, and will also sleep, till he decides that he will take us on to Bcharre.

Sitting in the taxi, there is an uneasy feeling going on, with everyone looking at each other. I’m not too happy about the situation, and are determined that we will not get out of the car, as all our belongings are in the back of the taxi, and also I dont feel like being stranded on the side of the road in the dark , especially in this part of the world.

Suddenly, our jovial friendly taxi driver starts up the car and takes off full throttle. Probably hoping we will say “SLOW DOWN AND LET US OUT PLEASE.”  But “No way.”

We hang on hoping he will stick to his side of the road, especially when vehicles are approaching  us from the other direction. He is throwing his little car into thre corners and really trying to worry us. We just brace ourselves in our seat and hope he takes us all the way to the Palace Hotel.

It really is lovely country on this road and it’s a pity that we couldn’t enjoy it more. Eventually the taxi driveS down the hill into the Palace Hotel and before he realise it our bags are out of this car, we say thank-you very much, for the most enjoyable drive, and leave him there.

A short time later we get a knock on the door from the girl in reception to say our taxi driver will not leave till we pay him extra. We eventually relent and give her $5.00 and ask her her tell him “that we would have tipped him $20.00 if he hadn’t been such an assakaholla.

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