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Today’s Office

Beqaa Valley: open road

One of the more interesting/difficult things about planning an extended business trip is handling meetings and events that fall through. This was supposed to be a New York – Munich – Riyadh – Singapore kinda week with all of the jetlag fug that goes with it, but with a trip to the Kingdom shifted to a later date the backup plan kicked in: working out of a friend’s apartment in Beirut. Foreign correspondents, especially those in an interesting geography do litter their home with inspirational artefacts, and the climate (both meteorological and political) creates an ideal space to write half-a-dozen presentations and pitches for a Mondrianesque calendar of meetings in Singapore.

With the last few weekend’s spent travelling to the next destination it seemed logical go off-grid for 24-hours, hire a driver by the name of Hassan (pilot is more accurate given the way he took the corners) and head to the Beqaa Valley to talk with a few folks about what’s happening on this and the other side of the Syrian-Lebanon border, only a few kilometers away. The valley (actually a plateau) is relaxed and the toughest part of the journey was in resisting the tourist knick-knacks including the Hezbollah t-shirt and the lure of fine local wines. But the influx of refugees is and will continue to create challenges to that would challenge any country.

The ride out to Beqaa was uneventful. One too many road-blocks on the ride back.

Highly recommended.

And since you ask, yes that is snow in the distance. Our trip back was supposed to include scenic mountain pass – alas curtailed by 4 meters of snow on the Bcharre road, at least according to the nearest army checkpoint.