As I was leaving Beirut I ran into the around the clock procession of dump trucks that are moving Dhahieh to its new seafront location. Once you get past that, you'll start noticing some redecoration courtesy of the Israeli Air Force. Overpasses are out. Not a single overpass remains between Beirut and Saida. Silly Israelis! Any casual observer of Lebanese driving patterns knows that we don't use these things. Why take the long dizzying way when you can just jump the median?
Bridges are a different story; we do need those because we have many many rivers. A river is a continuous flow of water that pumps life into everything in its path. Water is life and we have an abundance of water. I just wanted to rub that in.
After a few detours to find alternative ways to cross the numerous water sources along the way we reached Soor, home of LBC's favorite mufti Sayyed Ali El Amin. Just a piece of advice here, If you're heading South fill up gas before you leave Beirut since gas pumps are an extinct species south of the Litani.
My destination was the border village of Yaroun, my grandfather's hometown and where he spent the first 15 days of Olmert's anger tantrum. Yaroun is one of the heavily damaged villages that didn't get much media coverage, probably because it is beyond Bint Jbeil and Bint Jbeil is more photogenic. Like most houses in Yaroun, my grandpa's is now missing a wall. On the bright side the living room is well ventilated and enjoys an unobstructed view of Jabal Al Jarmaq. So we went to the local "Jihad Construction" office to pick up some cash. Note that "Jihad" is one of the Arabic words that is never translated to English only so that the terror alert levl can remain at orange, just like Madrassa. By the way, Little Jihad cannot go to his Madrassa in Bint Jbeil because Bint Jbeil is, well, more like Bint Jbeil was.
Before you reach Yaroun from Bint Jbeil there is an ant hill on the left between the road and the border. It is known as Maroun El Ras. When I used to see the TV footage of the Maroun El Ras battles, I thought that was just one angle of this strategic base. It turns out that there were no other angles, Maroun El Ras is just what you saw in the camera frame; a couple of houses on what would be rated as a baby stroller hiking trail. You have to see how small the areas in question are to grasp the magnitude of the Israeli military failure. There are no visible Merkava tracks beyond the outskirts of Bint Jbeil. To put it in perspective the distance from there to the border is shorter than the distance from where you are to Starbucks.
On the way back, we stopped for food at th only open restaurant in the area. Two rocket holes adorned the seating area. A couple of mine explosions and stray Israeli jets provided the ambience music. Judging by the clientele present, the waiters will be needing intensive French and Italian courses. Barbecued Merkava was the Plat du Jour.
Tomorrow (Lebanese time, so it might be a few days) I'll go Beyond Beyond Bint Jbeil with a political reading of the war's results.