Apologies for the sudden silence--while our hotel in Qatar had very convinient internet, our connection here is both slow and not in the hotel, so we've unfortunately had to blog slightly less obsessively. This is actually a real shame as Lebanon has been an amazing country so far.
We arrived safely Wednesday night and Ryan got to work on his aggressive driving skills. Rules of the road are decidedly optional here, and I say that as someone who just came from Qatar after having their car hit. Otherwise, after Qatar, Lebanon is wonderfully warm personally and cool temperature-wise. You can definitely tell it's on the Mediterranean Sea, in no small part because every part of Beruit and its suburbs seems to be positioned for an ocean view from the top of a hill. But even without the views--the food is wonderful and central in the way it ought to be in a good country on the Med--our collaborator here, Mounir Abi Said, has been trying to expose us to as many different Lebanese foods as possible, and knows what is the most delicious everywhere. We've also had a wonderful home cooked meal with him and his family, and were treated to awesome goat's meat pastries and fresh picked cherries in the Beqqa Valley yesterday.
Mounir has also been incredibly good at helping us find interesting shepherd's dogs in remote locations. He's worked previously with many of the shepherds in the valley and so they've all been super helpful in part as a favor to him. We have insane pictures that we'll upload as soon as the internet situation improves of us in the middle of picturesque meadows in the Lebanese mountains, surrounded by sheep, Lebanese and Bedouin herders, their dogs (many of which look like my dog growing up--a husky-sheltie mix named Romeo), and our collaborators. Not a place I could've ever imagined being, but wonderfully beautiful and enjoyable. The only downside is that most of the goats, sheep, and dogs have fleas and ticks, which doesn't leave one with the cleanest feeling after sampling, but so far, we've not had any bad luck with them, touch wood. A shower after a day of sampling is one of the nicest things ever.
In any case, tomorrow is our day off and so we're hoping to do some touristy things like drive up to Tripoli. I'll tell more about the country after that, but after three days, I'm pretty sure that I'll want to come back and really relax instead of working: the food and scenery alone would make that worth it.
7 time zones
42 traveling hours
5 countries (counting all landings and time spent on the ground at all)
3 countries (counting only those countries we left the airport)