Found my smile in Lebanon

Leaving from vienna airport is a little bit scary today as all is full of heavy armed police – some of them wearing a black face mask which makes me laugh several times. On the first flight I get a seat next to the emergency exit and wise from my experience with Finnair I take food. But even though the price was nearly half compared to Finnair the catering is good and we even get sandwiches on the 60 minute flight to Belgrade. Air Serbia I love you!

After arriving in Beirut I get a sim card and a rental car and I notice the ankles of my mouth going up in an unusual way…. I was advised by the Lebanese embassy to get a permission for paragliding on arrival at the office of the ministry of tourism at the airport. When I go there I see an advertising video of Lebanon tourism showing paragliders – behind locked glass doors. When they open the very friendly lady doesn’t really know what to do and sends me to the ministry in Beirut city center. Fortunately I got in contact with a Paraglider from Lebanon after the last story and he promised to help. We agreed to eventually meet when I leave the airport so I call him now.

We already wrote about what I wrote the last time the day before – My article about being arrested when I was here the last time which seems to have made many people here angry with me. I really want to say sorry for this, I never wanted to write in any way “bad” about Lebanon. Please take my excuse for this as I didn’t even know until last Thursday somebody could understand it like this. All the face to face feedback I got at home was being surprised how beautiful it is here so I didn’t even get this idea.

In the news there are a lot of bad stories about middle east (most of which I dont agree according to mz experience) – my Intention with this blog is to honestly write the truth about countries like Jordan, Mauretania, Pakistan, Iran … (you find them all in the list to the right). Not the ultimate truth of course as its always my personal experience and adventure, but most of the times a much better, more beautiful, hospitable and safe picture than the media in Europe would suggest. To do this I have to be honest, and I believe people read the blog also because of adventures like this. The message and the aim of my blog still is to make many people visit all this countries and to stop that incredible fear that is spreading all over Europe, to make people realize that countries like Lebanon are much better than Europe in several things like many religions living next to each other for example. The headline of an article always tries to bring it to a point of course and in times like this always should have some clickbait qualities. I really hope that many people falled to the clickbait and then were surprised about the beauties in Lebanon I wrote about – and in reality this was the only feedback I got before talking to Alan.

I really did not want to insult anyone and I am really sorry. Even more as Alan assured me something like this never happened before or after. Nobody knows up to now what really happened, I never got an information why it happened in that extreme way and we have to agree that shit sometimes happens – no matter where you are. I feel really bad this happened here because as everybody who read the articles before knows I really think this is an amazingly beautiful country.

However, Paragliders who want to fly here should send a copy of their passport to Alan (Club Libanais de Vol Libre: Alan Debs 03344677) who will send them to the authorities. Then you just need to call them half an hour before take off so they inform the military – I think this is actually an amazing service because they will tell you if the weather is on the edge which for me is always hard to tell in a foreign country.

When leaving the airport in the rental car I recognize the most crazy traffic in the world again – not dangerous though because very slowly. Out of Beirut it slowly gets better and I enjoy the amazing mountain view when crossing the summits to Bekan Valley. Until my arrival in Balbek Police and military stop me 5 times. First time I am a little afraid because still being traumatized for what happened last time but in reality its just curiosity and kindness they stop me for.”where from?”, “nemsa” “Oh Achlanuasachlan (welcome in Arabic)” and a big smile. Again the edges of my mouth go up in that strange way.

I arrive at Alis place one day earlier than I had told him as I had mixed up the flying dates. I stop in front of his house and sound the horn. As soon as I see the face of the old guy who lives in the downstairs my mouth does this strange thing again but worse and at the same time a feeling I know from india, Nepal, Pakistan and many other non-European countries overwhelms all my body – pure happiness! And my mouth is smiling – without interruption!

A moment later I see Ali on the rooftop. I run up and we hug each other dancing – more happiness, I really love and missed him a lot! We celebrate our reunion and lots of friends are coming throughout the afternoon. Having slept only minute wise last night I am as tired as I am happy to see all my friends again. We spend chatting and drinking tea all afternoon and when the last one leaves around 6pm I lean back on the couch, exhale and wake up more than 12 hours later. What an amazing day!

Balbek view at Alis rooftop