Summer o' Lebanon

Josh Wilson's recap of his trip to Lebanon and other Middle East hotspots. Don't die.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The adventure is coming to a close

Well, I am now safe in London, and am enjoying the city during my 12 hour layover. I fly to New York next, and have an 8 hour layover their before heading home. The evacuation was an interesting experience to say the least. I have photos that I will post when I get home, but let me simply say that 11 hours on a cargo ship with over a thousand people, was not a good experience. However, we did have a good time once we arrived in Cyprus. It's a very westernized little country.

I was sad to leave the rest of the group. Over the past week I have experienced a lot with them. Going through bombings and an evacuation really ties people together. If anyone reads this blog (Sean, Pat, Alec, Ferris, Irwin, Ali, etc....) please leave me a post with your email and phone number, or send me an email at I hope that all of you got home safely.

Well, that's about it. I look forward to seeing many of you when I return. My parents are having a get together on Saturday, so hopefully you can come. My phone should start working once i get to new york. 8:45 pm PST. Thank you for all of the posts, and for the caring that you have shown.

Peace and love,

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Final Update

Hey, It's Josh's sister. He gave me his password because he couldn't update the blog in Cyprus.

Here is the final update. He is currently on a 4:25AM flight from Cyprus to London. He has a layover of about half a day in London. Then he is on a flight from London to New York City with an hour layover in New York. Finally he will be on a flight back to LA and should arrive Friday morning.

He has told us that he is looking forward to partying with everyone on Saturday but that he plans on sleeping for a long time when he gets home.

He said Cyprus is terrific and wishes he could spend more time there drinking and partying with school friends but he is happy to be on his way home. We told him to be glad he is leaving now because there is a 7 ship strong group coming in with thousands of people flooding the area and the airport.

Thank you to everyone for the support and wonderful words of encouragement. If we have any other news to impart we will do so in the comments section below.


P.S. They are only charging him 16 pounds to change flights which is a vast improvement over the 2,000 dollars American Airlines was originally talking about charging him to change flights.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Get me to a chopper

Well, the evacuation should happen in the next few days. People are saying that Thursday should be the absolute last day that we are here. I'm excited about donating a bunch of my clothes to the people of Lebanon. I need a new wardrobe anyways. And I bought a bottle of Johnnie Walker gold label in Syria that I was hoping to bring back to a bunch of the uncles, but the only let you take one small bag with you. I guess that means I'll have to drink it on my own. I will be going to class tomorrow, and I am excited to continue to learn.

We played soccer and basketball today which was fun, but we are confined to the campus. I am sad to be leaving these people soon, but I look forward to seeing all of you back in the states. We continue to watch Lebanon getting bombed, but I just can't talk about it anymore. I hope this post finds all of you doing well. Hope to see you soon.

Peace and love

PS If you could call your congressperson, and say something about the American citizens in Lebanon having to pay money it could help many of us out here who do not want to worry about money. All of the other embassies have been and continue to evacuate their citizens for no charge. (French, British, Swiss, Dutch, etc...)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Safe in Byblos

Well as you already know I've arrived safely in Byblos and we are staying at the campus here. It's actually a much nicer campus than the one in Beirut. Byblos is a gorgeous city. They say it's one of the oldest cities in the world. Today we visited an 11th century, french castle. The sad thing is that the castle was built out of Roman, Greek and Persian ruins. So they destroyed these ancient ruins to build this castle. We did see the stone outline of a Phoenician temple from around 2800 BCE. Obviously things are much more relaxed here. We can still here the jets at night, but there is no explosions or gunfire anywhere near us.

The state department is emailing us and saying that they are working on an evacuation. I was at first considering staying, but everyday the fighting is getting worse, and I get the feeling that this will become a regional conflict. So, I think I will go with the evacuation. The bad thing is that one of my bags is still in Beirut, and all the gifts I bought for people are in Beirut. I might be going home without a lot of my clothes and other possessions. They also said in the email that there is a cost to be evacuated, and they will tell us how much in the next email. This is becming very complex, and I will be very sad to leave Beirut.

I included a lot of pictures this time there's one of a bunch of the sinarc people with hussain. He's and LAU student from Lebanon. He was pretty sad to see us leave and is kind of trapped where he is right now. A few pictures from Byblos, including a beautiful one from the balcony of my room. One of me and Pat with our concerned faces as we drove by a military base on the way to Byblos. One of the ships stuck because of naval blockade. One of Karim sticking his head out of the bus window. A few (I don't know how well it will come out) of smoke rising from the airport in Beirut. One of a building in lebanon still damaged from the civil war. One of the roads out of Beirut which is packed with overcrowded cars and trucks. Well, I have to run because other people are waiting to use the computer. Thank you to everyone for your thoughts, prayers and comments (the comments mean a lot to me, so if your not leaving them please start leaving them.)


Thursday, July 13, 2006

What a morning

The heavy attacks started at around 3:00 am. The first call to prayer is at right around the same time. They are attacking a little bit south of our location. Probably around 1-2 miles from where we are. You could here the jets flying overhead, the sound of the anti-aircraft, and the explosion of the bombs. It was surreal to hear the call to prayer while all of this is going on. The call to prayer is done live, so the person doing this was hearing everything going on and continuing the call to prayer. It's one of the most memorable experiences of my life. The area being attacked is mostly Palestinian camps. The palestinians we met at the beach live here. I pray that they were able to stay safe. I've never experienced anything like this. You could see the anti-aircraft fire (It's a light red color) from the window. Some of the explosions seem to be vey close and a few of them shake the building. We are going to be evacuated to the Byblos campus of LAU at around 12:00 noon (4 am PST) My personal safety is still not a major concern to me. Beirut is one of the most beautiful cities i've ever been in, and now the infrastructure is being obliterated. This is Mish ma3quul (unbelievable). I'll never forget this experience. As I'm writing this I'm finding out that we are no longer being evacuated. I'll try to keep you updated.

Peace and love

addendum - We are going to Byblos at about 1:00pm. The drive should take 40 minutes or so. Today is friday. And friday in the muslim world is the day that they go to the mosques. I'm not worried about the drive, but it should be interesting to see people of prayer reacting to this war.

Another quick post

I've never been woken up by the sound of anit-aircraft fire before, but today has been unique. Israel has immobilized all 3 runways at Beirut international airport, calling the airport a 'hub' for hezbollah weaponry. I find myself getting very angry. Lebanon is just beggining to rebuild its infrastructure. Syria has been gone for only around a year. Israel blames the government for this (I know that one of the members of the cabinet is Hezbollah), but the government has no control over the actions of Hezbollah. Any effort to disarm Hezbollah would lead Lebanon down the path to another civil war. The Israeli government is saying that they will send Lebanon back 20 years. Unbelievable!! All of this talk of terrorism, and now i think i realize what terrorism is. Terrorism may be kidnapping soldiers, but a much more severe form of terrorism is what is happening now in Beirut. Terrorism is waking to anti-aircaft fire and the sound of bombs stiking the airport (only around 9-10 miles from my present location). On may 8th of last year there was a parade in honor of hezbollah and syria where almost 200,000 people came out in support of them. On May 14th of last year almost 1.5 million people took to the streets of Lebanon to counter the hezzbollah parade, and demanded that syria exit the county. Lebanon is not the same as hezbollah, but now this uniquely open city of Beirut is seeing the infrastructure that was built in the last few years destroyed for the actions of hezbollah. What more can I say?

If you are worried about me, you can know that i am very safe where i currently am, and i will not leave unless advised to. Worry instead for the people of Lebanon, and the people of Northern Israel. I am going to class now, and I thank all of you for your thoughts, comments and concerns. I'll try to post about my trip to syria next time.

PS Go Centurions! (that's for you eloy)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A very quick post

If you've been watching the news you may have heard about Israel entering southern lebanon. no worries just yet. They are keeping us updated on everything going on, and they say that we are safe here. Most of the Americans are staying together and are not leaving the campus except for food. I'll keep you updated if I here anything else.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Just Pictures

Thank you to everyone for pointing out my lack of pictures. I am hoping that they will post now, but I am having a lot of computer problems. These will be pictures from Tripoli and the Cedars. Tomorrow I will do a post about Damascus & Aleppo.

Well Blogger puts these pictures up in a wierd order, so I'll just describe them generally. The guy in the bus is the coolest proffesor ever. There is a bunch from a crusader castle (later an Ottoman castle) in Tripoli. Some little kids in Tripoli. Soap in the shape of the Quran and also in the shape of the former Prime minister. Some pictures of the cedars. The Khalil Gibran Museum and former house. Snow in Lebanon. The largest grasshopper I've ever seen. And the cutest little military base ever. There is also a picture of a bedouin shepherd, and a bunch of us eating dinner on the meditteranean for my birthday.