My last full day in Lebanon was an amazing one. Though my friends were busy, they arranged for me to join one of their friends to visit Lebanon’s beautiful countryside.
My friends are very involved with the caving community in Lebanon. On weekends they often go to caves and explore where few have explored before. And why not when Lebanon has one of the world’s most amazing caves in the world, Jeita Grotto?
We set out early in the morning and met a crew from MTV Lebanon. There is a show on MTV Lebanon where a woman goes and does things that may be considered un-womanlike. It is pushing the boundaries of gender roles and is rooted in female empowerment. It’s called Am A Woman. This show was about cave exploration and mountain climbing. As Lebanon is so rich in nature, we could do both at the same site.
We drove for about two hours into the wilderness and arrived at the site of a huge sinkhole. The crew got out and started planning the day and the shooting locations.
First, a zip line was erected so that the host could descend from the top of a hill down to the sinkhole. The angle wasn’t so great so she didn’t move very fast. Still, it’d be a cool experience. The area we were in was fabulously beautiful.
The host had a great attitude and was upbeat. I had the impression that these kinds of people would be “divas” and I’m sure they are in their own way. But she was completely down to earth and nice to be around. This being Lebanon, everyone was fluent in Arabic and French, with varying levels of English. I had no difficulty conversing with them in English and while the show was being filmed you could hear all three languages being spoken in the same sentence at times.
After the zip line we went a short distance away where she learned how to climb a mountain face. I realized how much trust is involved in climbing, trust in your equipment, yourself, and those around you (particularly your trainers). Everyone had fun and I think those who climb are always happy to welcome a new member into their group.
Then we walked to a smaller cave. The sink hole can be explored, but it requires special equipment and extensive safety training. This one was appropriate for a beginner. Some trainers entered the cave, then the host. After a while we couldn’t see them anymore. She did a good job, but apparently she got a bit afraid at some point and that was the end of it.
While she was down in the cave I walked around this pristine area. It was a bit cool, yet warm as I walked around. I sucked in the Lebanese beauty, the fresh mountain air, and tried to make sense of this place as I prepared to leave it the following day.