How Does The Idiot Meet A Nun, A Bodyguard, A Handyman And The Police In Lebanon?

The Idiot rarely knows what will happen or whom he’ll meet on any particular day during his walk around the Mediterranean Sea.

Serendipity and flexibility, rather than a rigid agenda and timetable, are key to a memorable MedTrek outing.

In northern Lebanon, The Idiot ran into a nun and a bodyguard who both protected him in the somewhat dodgy territory approaching the border with Syria. The walk up the seaside, he’d been frequently warned, would be dicey. “Don’t go alone and be careful who you find to go with you,” he was told more than once.

The area between Tripoli and the Syrian border in norther Tripoli is not meant for foreign MedTrekkers, The Idiot was told.

The area between Tripoli and the Syrian borders to the north is not meant for foreign MedTrekkers, The Idiot was warned.

Fortunately Mother Thelka at the St. John the Baptist convent in the village of Enfeh greeted The Idiot with fresh lemonade and gave him a walking prayer to recite if he felt insecure. During an hour at her convent, she insisted that The Idiot be photographed with one of her workers rather than with her.

A cross at the St. John the Baptist convent in Enfeh, Lebanon, where Mother Thelka oversees construction that is being completed "in God's time."

A cross at the St. John the Baptist convent in Enfeh, Lebanon, where Mother Thelka oversees construction that is being completed “in God’s time.”

Mother Thelka insisted that The Idiot be photographed with a workman rather than with her. (Photo: Mother Thelka)

Mother Thelka insisted that The Idiot be photographed with a workman rather than with her. (Photo: Mother Thelka)

Looking back on Enfeh after meeting Mother Thelka at the St. John the Baptist convent.

Looking back on Enfeh after visiting the St. John the Baptist convent.

The next day, after MedTrekking around the littered promenade and congested port of Tripoli, Lebanon’s second largest city, The Idiot met a burly and surly Lebanese man who lived in Aarida near the seaside border entrance into Syria. Maurice (he winked to indicate it wasn’t his real name) said he was a Christian and would ensure The Idiot’s safety to the border in exchange for conversation in French and English.

“Just don’t look at anyone or talk to anyone or take pictures of anyone or let anyone see you’re wearing shorts or have anything to do with anyone who looks like a soldier,” Maurice winked as he let The Idiot walk at “safe” spots on the coast while he drove slowly on the road.

The Idiot's bodyguard took photos of the MedTrek towards the Lebanon/Syria border. (Photo: Maurice)

The Idiot’s “bodyguard” took photos of the MedTrekker heading towards the Lebanon/Syria border. (Photo: Maurice)

There was almost on traffic on the road and the coast near the seaside border between Lebanon and Syria.

There was almost no traffic on the road or the coast near the seaside border between Lebanon and Syria.

The Idiot approached Syria but decided, as he did when he reached the Syria border in Turkey, not to enter Syria.

The Idiot decided not to leave Lebanon and enter war-plagued Syria. He made a similar decision when he was at the Syria border in Turkey.

A few days later in southern Lebanon, between the historic towns of Sidon (mentioned 71 times in the Bible) and Tyre (which took Alexander the Great longer than he liked to conquer), a handyman at a seaside tenement made gestures to The Idiot to stop walking while he called the police to report a “suspicious foreigner who can’t speak Arabic” walking and taking photographs on the coast.

This is the photo that the handyman saw The idiot took before he reported him to the police. It's typical beach garbage found all over Lebanon's Mediterranean seaside.

This is the photo that the handyman saw The Idiot take before he reported him to the police. It’s typical beach garbage found all over Lebanon’s trash-filled Mediterranean seaside.

The Idiot politely waited for agents of the Internal Security Forces (the ISF, which is comparable to the FBI/CIA) to arrive and was later placed under arrest in Sidon where he was fingerprinted, mugshot and inqusitioned before being handcuffed and transported to HQ in Beirut. After a total of seven hours in detention and a good cop/bad cop interrogation, he was released and given back his passport the next day. The probable cause? Suspicion that The Idiot was using his new high-tech InReach GPS to pinpoint military installations on the Syrian coast.

The Idiot was walking towards the ruins of Tyre but almost wound up at the prison in Khiam.

The Idiot was walking towards the ruins of Tyre but almost wound up at the prison in Khiam.

The more juicy details of the tales of the nun, the bodyguard, the handyman and the police will appear in The Idiot and the Odyssey III.

Posted on by Joel in Featured, Follow The Idiot, Idiotic Musings, Lebanon, Mediterranean Pix, MedTrekking, PR, Syria

About Joel

Joel Stratte-McClure has been a global trekker since the 1970s. He lived in France for over 30 years, working as a journalist, before he turned his attention to a unique life-time-project of walking the shores of the Mediterranean. The first 4,401 kilometers are explored in his inspirational and entertaining first book "The Idiot and the Odyssey: Walking the Mediterranean." The next 4,401 kilometers are covered in the gods-filled sequel, "The Idiot and the Odyssey II: Myth, Madness and Magic on the Mediterranean,” published on Valentine's Day 2013. The last 4,401 kilometers will be discussed in the last book of the trilogy currently entitled "The Idiot and the Odyssey III: Alexander the Great Walks the Mediterranean."

3 Responses to How Does The Idiot Meet A Nun, A Bodyguard, A Handyman And The Police In Lebanon?

  1. Brigitte

    Whew… Close call. ME police is nothing to joke about; prisons neither. Glad you are on the road again.
    Heading home or continuing?

    • Joel

      Nice to hear from you Brigitte!
      I just ended the Lebanon portion of the MedTrek a few hours ago on a sweet beach south of the ruins of the ancient Phoenician city of Tyre. The area between here and the border with Israel is an off-limits security zone and I’ve been informed by the ISF, the military, Hezbollah and the UN that I shouldn’t MedTrek any further. So I won’t.
      Instead I’ll fly to Amman on Friday and resume the MedTrek in northern Israel (as close as I can get to the border with Lebanon) sometime next week. Thanks for following and best, Joel

  2. GiGi

    Holding my breathe until I got to the end. Take care.

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