Saturday, January 31, 2009

Train Museum... Without the Museum

Another short story from Lebanon, while I'm on the subject... We left one morning from Beirut, up the coastal highway (on which all the major bridges had been bombed out by Israel in the summer of 2006) to Tripoli, to head into Syria for several days, first objective being the Krak des Chevaliers, one of the most important Crusader Fortresses in the region. On the northern outskirts of Tripoli I asked our Lebanese driver to stop, as I had spotted what looked like old trains not far off the road. He asked me to hurry ; he didn't feel comfortable stopping there. Out in the open, or inside a raggedy hangar, were some of the loveliest old locomotives I've ever seen, despite their decaying state. I took a few pictures, not nearly as many as I would have liked and then scampered back to the car, and off we went. Within minutes we were driving along a high wall which we could just see over from the road, beyond which was a large Palestinian refugee camp, where people had been living as refugees for the past 60 years or so, in perfectly squalid conditions.
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Just a few short months later a minor confrontation with some shots fired in Tripoli turned into a major conflict in that refugee camp, which finally the Lebanese Army felt compelled to shell until there was little left but rubble. I read somewhere that around 30000 people had to be relocated from the camp. Unfortunately, these trains weren't in working order to help transport them. What a sad story. And the suffering of the Palestinian people continues today in Gaza... and tomorrow ? I find it hard to believe that they were all such bad people, as many make them out to be, a hundred years ago before they were forcibly removed from their homes and sent into exile... forced to live in limbo, in purgatory, with nowhere to call home, except somewhere, a dimly remembered place, in the distant hills beyond barbed wire and mine fields.
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2 comments:

Zoog said...

Amazing .... Realio Trulio.... the story and the photos.....love hearing the back story to your captivating photos....those trains are beautiful in their own special way...

Owen Phillips said...

Hey Zoog ! You're back ! Hope not too frozen out there in Detroit... stay WARM !!!