Departure from Bater on a chilly Saturday morning, I rode off through the Chouf with the empty road as my sole companion joined by the scenes that sunrise softly revealed along the way.
The ride started with a vibe of vacation as I drove through pink bay laurels. Behind the flowers, stretches of pine trees hosting old houses with red roof tiles and tall cypresses popping here and there gave the atmosphere an air of Tuscany. I crossed through Baadara, Moukhtara, and Maaser Beiteddine (looking now at the GPS I realize I might not have taken the most straightforward route, but it was worth the turns) and slowly the ride started taking the allure of a Route 66 drive with a vintage looking blue gas station, shops flinging flashy signs baring names such as ‘Speed’ or ‘Crystal’ then an abandoned car by a shack in the middle of nowhere.
The clouds looked like smoke coming out of the mountains and rising up into a pink halo colouring the sky. Afterwards came more deserted places lined with trees and landing into the spectacular sight of the Beiteddine Castle, standing proud amidst the silence. A little further down the ride that silence was broken by a rooster while I was taking pictures at the ‘seha’ of Deir el Kamar. I threw one last glimpse at the sun shining between the trees and then no more stops, but some burnt trees at the end of the road left me with a bittersweet feeling. Finally, the pine merged into banana tree fields announcing the South, and another road trip soon.
We often are sarcastic about the proximity of mountain to sea but the diversity our tiny country boasts within such shorts distances is quite unique. Whether in scenery or cultures, we are lucky to witness difference all the time, and to me this is what defines us, an open-minded people by force of nature.