"It took Solomon thirteen years, however, to complete the construction of his palace. He built the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon a hundred cubits long, fifty wide and thirty high, with four rows of cedar columns supporting trimmed cedar beams. It was roofed with cedar above the beams that rested on the columns—forty-five beams, fifteen to a row."
1 Kings 7:1-3
This is a perfect last post about my time in Lebanon and Syria, because the Cedars are incredibly iconic. The Lebanese flag has a cedar tree dead center, and the trees have been famous throughout history. Apparently in the past most of Lebanon was covered by these beautiful trees, but now deforestation has taken its toll, and you must go high into the mountains to see the remaining patches of forest.
We were either very lucky or unlucky, depending on how you look at it. The day we chose to go, it was snowing heavily in the mountains. This meant we were freezing cold and didn't have the appropriate boots and clothing to go hiking around the forest. It also meant the trees looked gorgeous, and we got to play in the snow for a little while.
It also afforded us a great adventure (which was almost a great disaster.) Since it was snowing so heavily, and the roads were very slick, the buses stopped running earlier than normal. We didn't find this out until after the last bus had left, so for a while we thought we were stuck in the mountains for the night! Tyler and his friend Charles had things to do back in Beirut, so this was definitely going to be a problem. Our bad luck soon turned around though, when we met a group of Lebanese evangelical Christians who were in the mountains for a day retreat. They were heading back to a city near Beirut in their well-equipped SUVs, and so they offered us a ride!
Of course, being good Arabic hosts, they also insisted on sharing their food with us on the ride back. And then, not long into the ride, the people in the car Tyler and I were in began to sing along quite well to the music playing. Then we found out the music playing was.... theirs! They were also an amateur band. It turned out to be such a fun and interesting trip!
(Of course, being mature graduate students/professionals, we had a few snowball fights during the course of the day. This is Tyler and his friend Charles.)