TRAVELLING

How to travel to complicated places. A journey to Lebanon. | Features

KADISHA VALLEY, LEBANON — First, we wait for the wind. We sat down on the edge of a mountaintop. The air was still. We were harnessed in to a large parasail wing, spread out on the rock behind us. It would be first time running off the side of a mountain in the belief that a sail would carry me. I expected to be afraid and I sat there looking out over the valley waiting for the fear to come in.

Instead, I saw below me the olive trees and apple orchards. I saw large patches of purple wildflowers spilling down the valley. And I saw the Cedars of God — the oldest cedars in the world, some of them thousands of years distant and mentioned in the Bible.

Without warning, the wind came. It grabbed the sail and everyone around me started yelling, “Run! Run!” Something about the yelling, the whoosh of the sail, the disorientation of being 6,000 of miles from home, there was no time to think or feel. I ran. One, two, three steps and suddenly there was no ground below me for a fourth footfall.

There was a moment of shock and then a deep exhale into the quiet of flying. The weight of Lebanon fell away — all the suffering we had witnessed, all the heaviness of history in this place that has always been inhabited, all of it let go of me for a moment as I looked down at the cedars.

Over the years, I’ve been to so many places that are the object of famous photographs. And as you stand there, looking up at the famous trees of Madagascar or the bears catching salmon over the waterfall in Alaska, you notice the angle of the photos. And you see the things

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