I woke up early after seeing Baalbek, one of the first chilly mornings I’ve had in a long time, and headed off to Zahle. I wanted to see Zahle because that is supposedly where the Tanous family left from to come to America. I got there pretty early in the morning and walked around the city for a few hours while it still woke up. Zahle is a one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to in the Middle East, set in a small valley with what I assume was once a much larger river running through the middle. It had more of a European architecture and feel to it. A crisp morning and the refreshing sound of water made it all that much more enjoyable. It’s a beautiful place and definitely somewhere I will have to return to in the future. One thing that was funny was a Rotary International sign that I passed, which of course I took a picture in front of. I’m hoping in the future to get in contact with Rotary there and set up a time to visit, sit in on a meeting and maybe get some information about my family. With all the cab and bus drivers and others whom I talked to and told that my great grandfather was from Zahle (which led them to say that I wasn’t American but was Lebanese) would then ask “Beit min?” or literally “ who’s house?” A phrase at first didn’t quite make sense, then when I realized they meant what family (reminds me of old English) I would say Tanous. Every one of them knew the name, something that’s never happened before coming to Syria and Lebanon.
After visiting Zahle, I headed for the border, another interestingly jumpy trip that almost saw me get on a mini bus to Beirut and not the border (oops) then hop around to a few different places around Syria around Damascus, across the border, have people fight over me in Jordan, hopping in what seemed like a random car that took me exactly to where needed to be in Amman for half the price of the what the dudes who were fighting said. It was a strange relief to be back in Jordan, we joke about living in Amman, but then when you comeback and know you have somewhere you can call home with no one trying to rip you off every time you turn around is nice. The nice big building sized photos of King Abdullah were strangely comforting.