I am coming back to Lebanon after three years. The new challenge is coming. Visiting territory that is under control of Hezbollah.
In the Hezbollah territory
Many states consider this Shi´a Islamist political party as terrorist organization. It was created as a reaction to Israeli invasion from 1982 as group of few Shia Muslim parties. I am interested in a life of locals there. Because it is clear that Israel and Lebanon are rivals. Even in 2006, Israel was controlling whole south Lebanon. My next goal is to avoid famous sights, even though I will visit one or two of them. It is easy to forget about this feelings when you are not meeting any tourists.
goal is clear - southern and north-Eastern Lebanon, where Hezbollah
operates and also cares about safety and other services.
Surprisingly, you can find a large Christian community there and
they are living very well as I will find out later. You will
need a special permission for visiting south
territory and I have no idea if I will be able to get it.
First day in Lebanon, I am meeting the French tourist that
didn't get permission for visiting the south.
It doesn't please me, but at least I will get drunk with him
and I will try my own luck. Next day, in the city of Saida, I am
trying to get this permission. The general is entering the military
building and he is asking me what I need. I am telling him
about my desire to visit that territory. He does not really get it
and I am showing him photos
of the places that I want to visit. The general looks very
stubborn, but very soon, the miracle happens. He is talking about
giving me a permission for one day. Just a day, that is not
very much, I said to myself. I will try to make a deal
with him about two days. He does not want to agree with that. But
suddenly, one quite silly idea came to mi mind. But it might help,
"Mr. General, if you will give me a permission for two days, I will pray for the health of you and your family tonight. "
The general is smiling. That is a good signal. He gave me a permission for three days.
in the Batmobile
years ago, I have visited the Palestine territory on the north
and I have seen the south
Lebanon. Now I am standing in the south
Lebanon and I am watching the Palestine - Israel. Border wall
is few meters further and beyond it is a controversial Jewish
state. The wall called Fatima Gate is stretching along the border for
few kilometers. Apart from the all present secret police, you can
also find there beautiful drawings of Jerusalem, the dove of peace
with C4s and many sayings about returning the Palestine to
Palestinians. It is also a very popular place where Lebanese
people shout on Israeli soldiers that are watching the wall. The
secret police is checking me there for a second time (first time
it was in the city of Nabatieh) and later they are checking me twice
more. The check is roughly the same every time. I am walking and
the vehicle stops near me. They are asking me where I am going.
I will show them the direction or I am telling them the
closest city. The guys are getting out of the car (they do not have
uniforms), they are checking my passport, they are taking a picture
of the places that I want to visit, they are checking my luggage
and they are constantly calling with somebody. Most of the time,
I will smoke a cigarette to show them that I am not
afraid. It ends up with my release - sometimes it takes a little
bit longer, sometimes it is very fast. But not in Tebnine. This is
the fourth check. The black car with dark windows is stopping near
it takes me to the police station. It is more than one person now.
I am quite tired of the checks, so I am making fun of the
"Dude, your car looks like the Batmobile. " I tried to start a conversation.
The guy does not lack a sense of humor and he laughs. But he does not answer me.
The fear of the enemy
is a little bit worse than other checks on the police station.
It takes long and they are checking absolutely everything I have.
They are finding my second (backup) passport and I have to
explain where else have I been and why I have it. They are
asking me about the Palestine. I do not have this country in my
passport but I am a bad liar. Because of that, I am
telling that I have been there and I am always emphasizing
that I was in the Palestine, not Israel. Everything seems to be
ok, one of the policemen offers me a coffee, but eventually, the
decision from higher ranked officer arrives. I have to leave south Lebanon now and my permission expires. I am sad about that
and the policemen are aware of that. They are also human and they see
that I do not have bad intentions. But some higher ranked
officer made a decision and I have to respect it. On that
day I am going to the town where I do not need permission.
I am meditating in my hotel room and I am thinking about
leaving this place. I have so many questions. Why are they so
scared? Why they have not leave me to sleep with the Christians? Do
they think that I am a spy? Where had the human trust
disappeared? This feelings got away and I am coming to the south
Lebanon next day without permission. This time, nobody is requiring
In the steps of the Christ?
you believe in miracles? I must confess that I do not
really believe in them. I have visited many sacred places and
I seldom felt something sacred. If so, it was because of nature,
meditation or because of temples where these miracles usually happen.
I remember the visit of one place in Bosnia. There was a metal
statue of the cross and the Christ. People believed that the drops of
blood are present there and they came there with tissues and they
were wiping this blood through their bodies. I was there too and
I have seen people doing it. But I have not seen any blood.
Despite this, I am always visiting this places and still
expecting miracle. In the city of Qana in the south
Lebanon, Jesus transformed water to wine, according to the legend.
Places where this was supposed to happen are four in the Middle East.
Qana is one of them. I am coming there to explain a few
things that happened in my life. I am also hoping to kind of
talk to myself without expecting that somebody will hear me out. I am
doing it quite regularly, but usually not on these special places.
leaving the secret police of Hezbollah and I am moving to the
where this party
is also holding control but I do not need a permission
anymore and I hope that I will not have to deal with secret
police. After the journey, I am stopping in the village called
Anjar where I befriended a family of Armenians. I have
spent a night there and I felt like I was a part
of the family too. Except of approximately 15 people living in the
house where I lived, there are also four dogs. One of them is
afraid and he is constantly barking, the other one love me and he is
licking me. Armenians offer me good wine, water pipe and comfortable
bed. They are very friendly and funny. On the next day, they are
showing met he places that are known only by locals. I am asking
them how I have deserved their trust and hospitality. I am
assuming that the questions are not important in that moment. The
human met human and this is important.
A few lines of love to conclude
the Hermel, near the ruins of the city Baalbek I am travelling
to a pyramid that was built for Syrian princess that loved to
hunt there according to the legend. Hermel is not a popular
place among the tourists. I have not met any foreign tourists
there. Lovely couple started a conversation with me. He is
a young teacher, she is a student. Nobody know about their
relationship in the class, they are keeping it in the secret. The
teacher wants to know how to say "I love you" in Slovak. I am
telling it to him. After saying that phrase, the students looks quite
nervous. She is blushing out of happiness. The couple is grateful
that I came there and they gave me water and some sweet sticks.
This is the reason why I came here - this meeting. Nothing
more, nothing less.
controlled by party
Hezbollah that is the only one that did not give up after the end of
the war (1978 - 1990). Party
managed to achieve retreat of Israeli forces from the territory of
Lebanon. To remember this event, in the 2010, the museum of Hezbollah
was created. This museum also welcomes foreign visitors. Museum is
located near the village Jarjouaa and it keeps great amount of guns
and armed vehicles which were used during the war with Israel.
There is a large community of Christians there, but the largest
community is the group of Shi´a
Muslims (that are most common mainly in Iran for example), but you
will also find a population of Armenian people that moved there
after the genocide in Turkey.
Date of trip: april 2019
Author: Peter Gregor