Friday, June 26, 2009

Touring Sour (Tyre)

20 June 2009 – Sour (Tyre), Lebanon

I ventured to Sour (Tyre), about 81km south of Beirut, to see an exhibition of photographs by Palestinian children from the refugee camps of Lebanon. It wasn’t a big exhibit, but I needed an excuse [bxA] to venture south despite the travel warnings which go something like this:

From the Lonely Planet (published July 2008):

“Following Israel’s 2006 offensive in southern Lebanon [which effectively put a stop to its tourism industry], the area remains troubled and its future uncertain.

From Tyre (Sour) - 20 June 2009

At the time of writing, the main north-to-south highway connecting Beirut with Tyre was still closed in one section, due to an un-repaired motorway bridge, the target of an Israeli air strike. Thousands of UN Interim Forces Lebanon (Unifil) troups remain stationed in the region, and there are several Lebanese army checkpoints on the roads between Sidon, Tyre and beyond.

From Tyre (Sour) - 20 June 2009

At the time of writing it was not wise to venture too far off the main roads… A roadside bomb attack on Unifil troups ...on 24 June 2007 left [six] peacekeepers dead, and there are suggestions that there may be other bomb attacks planned. Therefore, some foreign offices also advise staying away from bars and restaurants popular with off-duty Unifil soldiers in Tyre.

From Tyre (Sour) - 20 June 2009

In addition to this, the area is still littered with land mines, along with yet more unexploded ordinance and cluster bombs dating from 2006."

From Tyre (Sour) - 20 June 2009

But, once you get through the disclaimer of all the danger, the Lonely Planet notes some of the highlights of the south… “full of archeological treasures, ...

From Tyre (Sour) - 20 June 2009

...surrounded by lush plantations of bananas, dates and oranges and populated by welcoming locals” …and in Tyre “predominantly Shiite, like most of the South, you’ll notice scores of posters depicting Hassan Nasrallah, the Shiite cleric and Secretary-General of Hezbollah, and Iranian clerics and leaders including the Ayatollah Khomeini.”

From Tyre (Sour) - 20 June 2009

I came across a great photo-op that captured the richness of Sour’s fruits and politics – in the center of a massive farmers’ market was a large billboard collage of all the revered political leaders from Nasrallah and Mussa al-Sadr to Michel Aoun. I decided not to photograph it since I’m starting to think curiosity kills more than just cats.

Here's a link to the full photo album of Sour (Tyre), Lebanon.