Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Headin' Home!

The ceasefire seems to have held through the night although I was flinching all night long waiting to hear the bombs. While a lot of people headed home yesterday right after the ceasefire was announced, today was the test to see if people would stay or head back.

And...all the IDPs are headed home! We drove around in the mountains today in an area called Chouf where there had been about 120,000 people living with
families and in schools and we couldn't find any of them! Every school we went to was empty.

The roads, however, were crowded with tons of people in cars (that ranged from swanky new Mercedes Benz to beat up old cars without windshields) all with matresses that they were given in the IDP shelters strapped to the top. We were swimming upstream trying to get back into Beirut. It took us 1 hour to go a
mile. Since the major highway was bombed, everyone has to go on the old 2 lane highway and it was packed. Humanitarian aide convoys, Government of Lebanon Army convoys, and the press battled it out with the IDPs to get to Sidon, Tyre, and the South. It reminded me of trying to drive from Conway to Myrtle Beach in the summer time.

Everyone was excited and happy and they all had Hezbollah flags on their cars and posters of Nasrallah (or Hassan as we have taken to calling him) taped to the hoods of their cars. We saw lots of V for victory signs (although the latest joke says that the V means "There are two buildings left in Dahiyeh!)

Anyway, tomorrow we will assess the security situation, give the mine clearers time to get all the unexploded cluster bombs that the Israelis dropped out of the road and head down South to see what the situation is like in a few days.

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