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Friday, June 4, 2010

Qadisha Valley

The drive over the Cedars Pass was beautiful, and we stopped to put our feet in some patches of snow that remain on top. The road stays closed for much of the year, and it was still pretty chilly and windy at the top. Bought some almonds from a vendor who runs a little convenience store out of his station wagon; guess he drives over to wherever the tourists stop for photos.

Frank and I spent some time trying to find a word to describe the Qadisha Valley. Mine was "majestic" and his was "surreal." It is one place I almost wish we had a video camera because it's impossible to capture it all. I think we hiked for about three hours, leaving the car at one point, going down into the valley, and then climbing back up at another location and getting a taxi back to the car. The climb back up was pretty strenuous, but the views the whole time were spectacular. Along the way, we visited a number of monasteries, listening to mass being sung at one and visiting a cave that is home to a hermit from Colombia. Qadisha is a Semitic word for "holy," and the valley was a refuge for persecuted Christians for centuries.

We visited the Khalil Gibran museum this afternoon, which was a bit of a bust. Mostly art (portraits of a few contemporaries like Rodin and Jung); the burial shrine in a cave was the best part. I was intrigued by a book of his love letters but elected not to purchase them for $29 or a copy of The Prophet for $20. He was born here in Bsharre even though he spent much of his life in New York and Paris.

Headed to dinner tonight at a restaurant beside a waterfall that I hope is the place Steve remembers from the '80s. It was a toss up between that and the Mississippi Restaurant -- another contender for best American business name.

Frank wanted me to be sure to mention the occasional blackouts. The lights went out briefly just now when he was in the shower. It is usually only for a few seconds.

Currently enjoying a bottle of our Kasara chardonnay for happy hour.

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