National Geographic : 1913 Jan
FROM JERUSALEM TO ALEPPO between being a green expanse of orange orchards and mulberry trees irrigated by the mountain streams. The two towns ore connected by a primitive mule-drawn street-car service (see page 74). RAILROAD EXPANSION IN SYRIA About a year ago a railroad was con structed from Tripoli by a French com pany to connect with their lines running from Beirut and Damascus to Aleppo. Since operations have begun on the Aleppo section of the German railway line from opposite Constantinople to Bagdad, Tripoli has become an active seaport for receiving rail and railway materials, which are sent over the French line to Aleppo, thence to be reshipped to the eastern end of the line, which during our visit was nearing the Euphrates. On the coast near the railway station is an ancient fort, built in the middle ages and called by the Arabs Burj es Seba (Tower of the Lion). Our friend the station-master, who calls himself Monsieur Khies, informed us that it was built by Cceur de Lion, but the style of architecture is Arabic. It was one of a series of six forts built to protect the coast, only one other of which still exists, and it is in poor condition. The last one destroyed was to make room for the railway station. A petition has been sent to Constanti nople, and, if granted, will also seal the doom of Burj es Seba, which, though fully worth being preserved as a relic of antiquity, is thought to be an obstacle in the way of the "iron road," as the na tives say (see page 80). The old saying, "The never-changing East," should be modified to "The slowly changing East," at least as far as Pales tine and Syria are concerned. One can not travel through these countries with out constantly being struck with the inter mixture of the very old and the new side by side. THE FAST OF RAMADAN After two full days at Tripoli, we were ready to start for our first goal, the Cedars of Lebanon. We woke while it was still dark, thinking Mohammed Ali, our muleteer, had come with the horses, but instead found it to be a man with a drum, which is beaten with a strap to awaken the sleeping fast-keepers to their early morning meal. The pealing of a cannon at this hour serves for this pur pose, but it is supplemented by a number of poor men, each one of whom volun tarily canvasses a given district with a view to receiving, on the feast at the end of Ramadan, presents of food and cash. The night was still, and the voice and drumming recalled memories of child hood when living in the Mohammedan quarter of old Jerusalem. The crier stopped before each door, repeating short sentences, alternating them by a few flaps on his drum. His verse ran something like this: "Get up to your morning meal" (flap-flap-flap). "The Prophet has come to visit you" (flap-flap-flap). "Don't be lazy" (flap-flap-flap). Mohammed Ali came in due time, and by the light of a small oil lamp in a smoked street lantern he loaded our heavy parcels on a mule, while the cam eras were put on his mount in order to be more accessible en route. His small nephew, a boy of about 12, was taken along to drive the mule, which, however, he rode when the paths were not too steep. Mohammed Ali's horses could not be said to be fine mounts, but they were good enough, while he himself made up all deficiencies by his good qualities as a muleteer. Unlike most muleteers, he ad mitted his ignorance of the roads; but since one of us had been over this route once before, we were not anxious. In ascending the Lebanon range through the valley before us to Bsherreh, where we were to spend the night, we followed the right-hand side of the Wadi Kadisha (Sacred Valley) along a car riage road, availing ourselves of short cuts now and then. The scenery was most striking. The entire hillsides were carefully terraced and planted with vines, from which hung large clusters of ripe fruit, unprotected except by a low stone wall. "AMERICAN VILLAGES" IN THE LEBANON We had just lost ourselves in the beauty of our surroundings when, look ing up, we saw a native approaching us.