Saturday, December 1: Today is Daydream Saturday, and I’m dreaming of Lebanon. A country with a mix of Muslims and Christians, it seems to be perpetually in the midst of Middle East conflicts because of its borders with Syria and Israel and the complex makeup of its population.
On Oct. 19, 2012, a large bomb exploded in the heart of Beirut’s Christian section, killing eight people and wounding at least 80, unnerving a nation as neighboring Syria’s sectarian-fueled civil war spills beyond its borders and threatens to engulf the region (New York Times: Lebanon).
When I came to Oman, one of my dreams was to visit countries in the Middle East, including Jordan (which I did visit), Morocco and Lebanon. I hope to visit Morocco this summer. I love Lebanese food, and I’ve heard Beirut is a beautiful, cosmopolitan city. There are historical sites to see, mountains to hike, and beaches to explore.
Because of the upsurge in violence and cautionary U.S. State Department travel warnings, I canceled my plans to visit the country over the Eid holiday on October 25 of this year; I ventured instead to Ethiopia. But this weekend I talked to someone from Sur who said some friends of his recently visited Lebanon and had a wonderful time. He said he thinks there are pockets of violence that are easily avoidable with common sense.
IF we get a break between semesters on January 19, and IF my sons and husband DON’T visit during that week, I am still dreaming of going to Lebanon. Foolish? Maybe.
From the U.S. State Department: The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Lebanon because of current safety and security concerns. This supersedes the Travel Warning issued on May 8, 2012, to emphasize information on security, kidnappings, and an upsurge in violence in Lebanon and the region.
The potential in Lebanon for a spontaneous upsurge in violence remains. Lebanese government authorities are not able to guarantee protection for citizens or visitors to the country should violence erupt suddenly. Access to borders, airports, roads, and seaports can be interrupted with little or no warning. Public demonstrations occur frequently with little warning and have the potential to become violent. Family or neighborhood disputes often escalate quickly and can lead to gunfire or other violence with little or no warning. The ability of U.S. government personnel to reach travelers or provide emergency services may be severely limited.
I would love to hear from anyone who lives in Lebanon or who has recently traveled to the country. What do you think? Would it be foolhardy for me to go?