Thursday, September 23, 2004

A lebanese Highway Adventure

I live in a strange but charming country (Lebanon) My home is built in a quiet suburb of Sidon (a city 45 Km to the south of Beirut, the capital)I study and work in Beirut, so everyday I get into my car, a red Nissan Sunny, and I drive out of our apartment's parking down to the main highway that links the main southern cities (like Sarafand and Tyre) to Beirut.

It is quiet a nice drive; the highway runs parallel to the sea shore. It is a very nice highway, from one side you have the azure blue Mediterranean Sea and on the other side the once-green hills of Lebanon. Nowadays these verdant hills have become a concrete jungle.

Before getting on the highway, I have to stop at a Lebanese army road block. It is really just a hindrance , compared to 10 years ago when any traveler to Beirut had to stop at 10 or more roadblocks, manned by 3 or 4 foreign armies ( from Syrian, to Palestinian…)

The highway looks quite modern, but for the stalls of fruit and vegetable vendors that litter the emergency lane (on average there is around 10 or more throughout that stretch of the highway) They are quite harmless -usually illegal Syrian workers- unless you had an emergency and need to pull over, or when the vendors try to cross the highway to say hello to their friends and relatives on the other side.

Add to that, the different bumps and missing parts of the security rails that divide the two opposed lanes of the highway; even though the highway was built by international contractors with modern standards, no one cares to maintain it. So day after day, with each accident (we Lebanese are quiet famous for our crazy driving) the gap widen, till the point where the security rails is completely missing for over a mile…

Well believe it or not but this daily ordeal is far from over, I still have to tell you about the dogs, the cyclist, the hookers, and the infamous “Service” drivers… but all that will need to wait till my next post.
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