Mark Jenkins
“There are only certain times in your life when you can do certain things. If you don't do them that very moment, they pass you by forever and you and your life become something else. Lighting out to see the world is one of those things. If you are too young, you will be hurt by the malformed people who prey on innocents; if you are too old, the seeds of cynicism and fearfulness have already taken root and you shall be a loathsome traveler. You must be young enough to believe in your own immortality in a mysterious, ineluctable way, but old enough to understand that you could die if you got too messed up.”

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Into Africa

Hasta Siempre Commandante.This evening we leave for dubai. we will be spending 6 hours in the airport before we continue onward to Kenya. Addis Ababa was our other choice of connections. Everyone tells me that Dubai airport is so huge and packed full of stores that the 6 hour layover will fly by.

Which brings us back to last night? Why do i even bother with a chronolog? We started off at timeout, a place for the parents to talk and meet, it was very nice, i tried to sell my body to get a lebanese passport, but no luck. Seems that only men can give their spouses lebanese citizenship, and wouldn't you know gay marriage is out of the picture here too.

the rolled on and we found ourselves at Che, a quaint little homage to the revolutionary, that happens to serve mojitos. After soaking up the revolutionary vibe for a few hours our small posse moved on to gauche caviar, but not before leaving our mark on the town, or at least its cars. Now i know where all those scrapes and dents on cars come from.

Rolling on, we arrive at Gauche Caviar. we we rejoin the younger contingent. Here i use my supernatural foreinger powers to pick up every girl in the bar. Amazing. it seems the entire bar was constituted of lebanese who very much liked texas. Bravo!
@ 05:35:21


I mean really, when isn't pirate talk appreciated?
Yesterday was wonderful, just like i mistyped. We did nothing i played with gallery2 for a new image system, that i plan to wrap into the site soon. The day was inspired by my last journal entry. It seems my hosts read it too, and the second i posted it, they read it and made sure it happened. Its great. However this does raise questions about bias in reporting that i am not comfortable with. Thank goodness this is a wonderful adventure and i have nothing bad to say, but if it were not the case? Do i not report Or do i ban the host country from reading my website? Hrm... I met the man who controls the .lb top level domain tonight.

As we prattled on about computer gizmos and gaffaws the girls called out in agony. Why cant guys discuss nonsense for a little while? Why would anyone want to do that, if i am only here in lebanon for a short time, do i really have time to waste talking about the weather? Now take that mindset and apply it to life, if we are only here for a 100 years is there any subsection of that you would like to immediately write of as conversational waste products? I hope not.

Today is the day after christmas here, but it doesn't feel like it at all. The country works right through all holidays it seems, since half the country doesn't observe it there is still work getting done, and when it comes time for muslim holidays all the christians will be working, its kinda great.
@ 04:47:38



They may be at odds with each other, but the lebonese people go far beyond the call of duty for their guests. I was warned of their awesome hospitality before i got out of the airport, by a man named tex, from Texas, wearing longhorn garb. He said there was no greater sense of hospitality out there. However this man also warned against the ever present mugger/murderer/rapist/pickpocket evil villain who will take advantage of me. Its an interesting sell, hospitality and fear. After Tex's inquires into my collegiate past and other silly things we seperated off to look for our luggage in different parts of the airport, not before he gave me a big hook 'em horn though, sheesh. I elected to ignore this raving lunatic, as nice as he was his messages neutralized each other.

The Cortas' were indeed waiting for me, scoring the first point for Lebanese hospitality. Every since then it has been an unending route for team hospitality. in a dramatic upset the villainous protester has invited us to tea. I have seen grown men get into a scuffle over who would pay for hamburgers. I have had clerks instructed in Arabic to ignore me and my monetary offerings. Time and time again my overtures to share the cost of this trip has been rebuffed, not only rebuffed but laughed at. I could understand if this were the case for a few days but it has been over a week. I have struggled and tried to tried to spend money, but the only times i have managed are when no one is watching and i sneak it, victorious only 3 times.

This is not just a contest of who can pay, it goes beyond that. On Friday we took a guided tour, but on Saturday and Sunday the whole family took us out and around town, giving of themselves also. I imagined they don't really eat four meals a day, and they are just trying to fatten me up. But we went to see the aforementioned movie last night and one of the lines from the movie occurred when a guy and his friend were sneaking out of the house at four am. The mother stopped them and told them they couldn't leave until they ate something. Next scene they are pulling their caper with a sandwich in hand. Classic. In Lebanon Hospitality rules the day.

Today it is raining, and i aspire to do nothing. I wonderful if it will be allowed.
@ 04:37:16



Went out this evening to paint some ceramics, and see a film. Falafel. Hopefully the bowl comes out alright. The movie did.
@ 17:09:06

The View

That view i was talking about earlier can be found .here
@ 17:01:55

Happy Holidays

Last night i made teh mistake of telling a group of people in Lebanon "happy Holidays" a fun row ensued as we discussed americans aversion to religion. A funny topic in lebanon. Of course during the exchange it was revealed that 9 out of ten people present were indeed Americans, Funny stuff.

Today we went to peek at Ramzi's new construction. the views here are great, its amazing how close the sea and the mountains are. Construction methods over here are diffrent too. garages open immediately onto the streets, no set back lines no dimension requirements, its really great. of course there are some rules, but anything built during the war is exempt. For example you must have X amount of land to build Y amount of Home, but if you build it during a lawless period, war, you can build X amount of house on X amount of land. I am speaking about the mountain type laws, where the land is actually available, in the city you always build X on X cause thats what you have to do.

We had a great family Christmas, 30+ attendees and the television was not turned on once. It was spectacular.
@ 10:12:50


What have we done?

After a quick wikipedia trip i felt prepared to goto my first Quaker meeting. it was a great way to spend an hour, silent contemplation. Afterwards we went to some underground caves that had tighet photograph security than the hizballah camps and the lebanese security forces. So it a was a photo light day. we rode trams boats and train and walked throughout some reallyl neato cool places, like those in slovakia. Once again it was underutilized and over built, that means it was almost a private showing, once again. Then we went to Byblos ... where stuff happened ... but now we must go round to the families houses.
@ 11:29:52


Tyre, Sidon and Bananas

We drove south today, into Hizballah realms again. If you go east you find them, if you go south you find them, if you goto to downtown beirut you find them. Hrm... I am begining to see a pattern. i really enjoyed our trip because it showed us the national conditions. The situation between the major cities. Most strikingly, every semi-important bridge is gone, not just the big one i saw yesterday. All of them, gone. Good game Israel, rematch?

Ruins, UN Occupiers, endless seas of fruit. and a really fun coastal run sum up todays jaunt. As a bonus while we were looking for the ancient ruins we got to see what it looks like when the sky falls on your heads and make modern ones. OK Isreal best 3 outta 4?

Chicken Little
@ 18:22:35


Pictar time is here

MeI had a second to snag some photos off the cameras, most representative.
Photo Album here
Internet here is metered, so we will have to wait for a more comprehensive upload. Our right to fat pipes. I am thinking about pitching my tent downtown and protesting for free internet for all, and its not even my country. :P

@ 18:21:54

Khallas Hizbullah

So much so little.
Ksara Winery, Baalbeck, and Anjar.
THere was much trepidation as to weather i could goto Baalbeck, it is in the heart of Hizballah territory, and as we neared the towen we saw the pennant of their faction, the street was lined with their yellow Kalashnikov logos. But it was pretty calm, except for the recent speeches made in downtown Beirut, which were being broadcast from the mosques speakers(you know the speakers that belt out the call to prayer across an entire town? yea those). the winery was lame, but at least i got to say "no i don't like your wine, its too "sharp" or young. and the lady blushed and said "yea", i felt like the best wine connoisseur. I tooka ton of pictures. My op tech camera strap is so integral to a fien shooting experiance, i could walk around incognito and then whip out the big boy in a split second and have it back under mycoat in a heartbeat, it was like being a wild west cameraman. in this manner it was easier to carry than my micro camera.

The ruins of Lebanon are unique in that they are largely unprotected. we were able to walk up in and on the ruins. They could benefit from a little bit more preservation work, it stopped in 1975 and has yet to begin anew. However the support structure is there and primed. there are wonderful restruants that seat 200, with only one table filled. sharp contemporary musums with great exibits that serve 5 people a day. Its a real shame. Lebanon has a great Business sense and has penty of support for their natural beauty but i fear they might need to develope their beauty a bit more. Rumor has it we go south, maybe i will wear my terrorist gear i bought in the Hizballah stronghold. I paid in US dollars, to be sure.
@ 16:56:05


Bayrouth 12K

We went for a quick walk today down through the protesters camp, a couple times. Our trip was a sightseeing tour of tanks and razor wire soldiers and memories. We walked from one side of Beirutto the other, crossing the downtown center twice, visiting the protesters each time. We walked along the sea to the spot Where Rafik Hariri was Sent into orbit. nearly 3 blocks of the water front were destroyed in the deadly blast, a crater still remains. The site is protected and cordoned off by the Military. Passing inland we found our way to downtown after skirting barrier after barrier of Tanks and razor wire, with soldiers at each post. Eventually we found our way behind them. after exploreing a deserted quarter we saw a checkpoint in the distance where the guard was denying people entrance, it would seem we have accidently got behind the barricades. There were some roman ruins downtown that lay were they fell years ago, after the xcavation, nothing seems to have been done to their preservation, yet. We passed through the checkpoint in reverse, the guard was a bit confused. From here we walked into the Protesters camp. We walked intot he middle of a soccer game, a ball flew Sana's way and she caught it. The guys were impressed, but i gasped, at the use of her hands in a soccer bout, i mean football match, err ... futbol! cause thats the language i chose to speak. Spanish seemed the best way to decline their invitation to lunch and a game of futbol.

Passing there we found an older neighborhood, Geymazi. Where her Grandmother lived, back in the neighborhood I found a wonderful old house with great detail in its construction. It was dilapidated but the care in its construction stood out like a ray of sunlight through the grey clouds of the contemporary concrete jungle that surrounded it. We went up on the roof of her Grandmothers old house and saw the old grape vines growing in the dense urban jungle, marvelous. On the way home we passed through the Camp again, this time on the other side, without incident they inspected my bag and found my cameras this time, but only asked me politely to not take photos, so i respected their wishes. Tomorrow we goto Baalbeck.
@ 15:34:39


The DNS server has been wonky for the past few days, the backup is now online. Thank goodness.
Of course the moment i leave the office something like this happens. At least the internet here works and i have been able to work on it. is the failure point. After five years its not bad, but boy is it bad timing for an outtage.
@ 15:07:03


Texas Pride

Concealed hand gunners rejoice. Tonight we went to the gun range and blasted some paper type bad guys. With about forty three thousand of Sana's closet relatives. I didn't show well for Texas, but it was plenty fun to fire the gun off in rapid succession. thats so fun. The place was up in the mountains which was a fun drive. On the way down it was so steep that i felt if we braked too hard we might fall down rear end over the front end. Driving in lebanon is so special, the roads are so full of character in the entirety of Beirut they have 2 stop lights, two lights that no one pays attention to.

We bummed about on the campus of American University of Beirut. taking pictures, flirting with girls, and playing video games. A beautiful campus by the seaside, fill with other natural beauties. Ah, college.

Speaking of pride, don't you think high school sports are to blame for the troubles in the middle east? If we didn't teach rivalries and competition through organized sports there would be no problems between nations and factions. I blame Team sports. Tennis is Ok. Team tennis is genocide waiting to happen.
@ 15:46:32



Thats how i would describe the laughter of the room where i showed my passport to reclaim my luggage. it was very funny. We pikced up my bag without furhter incident, And Sana too.
Sana too, luggage not included.
@ 23:09:25


Without clothes means naked!

We walked around Beirut today, saw the city. Met Mssr. Kattouah walked down to the protests downtown, in addition to heated tents they have evening entertainment and other fine comforts. We didnt actually enter their perimeter but instead attended some of the more luxurious shops int he new Saifi VIlliage that skirt downtown. Its a very nice area that has been set upon by the protesters. Lebanese says it costs their economy greatly to have thos eprotesters, and its true all their wonderful shops are empty bands of under utilized waiters roam the strrets. :P We did our part and had some family type dinner, it was family style, but perhaps microfamily style. Gotta keep those waiters busy or they may rogue, sligning freshly ground pepper in the streets. In fact one of family members missing fromt his group is still Sana, she didn't make it in today due to some bomb scare type action in paris, so this marks hour 55 of her attempt to get to Beirut. Maybe tomorrow. Rumor has it my bag might be there in time to meet her.
@ 00:24:36


L - undone

If dallas was a story, London was a horror story.

I arrived at 6.30am and they were clearly not ready for us. As we got off the plane we were greeted with huge lines to get to the next terminal, however i learned that my terminal was somewhere else and i could skip those lines. Hooray! I found my way to the my terminal(4) which was a 10 minute bus ride away. But the buss was not there, so we had to wait a bit. after our commute we entered terminal 4 ... or at least we got close to it. There was a queue so long it made the previous line look like the tail on a bobcat. Since the line was not moving i assumed that they were not open yet and that im sure it would dispapear once they started up. two hours later i was in the same spot, and the line was twice as long. What is infinite time two? Heathrow and the BAA. During this episode i thought of Sana who was supposed to meet me in Heathrow and how she, who would be arriving a bit later, had no chance of clearing the queue before the plane took off. I cant believe heathrow is an airport that has been in operation for more than a week, everything there seemed as if they had never done this before. I cant understand how an airport can operate like that regularly.

By the time i was through the line i had become fluent in Italian. I met a nice family who i helped through security, my spanish was better than their english. And their spot in line was even better. I got in to the terminal to find my 5 hours layover had become a 7 hour layover, at least that gave sana a chance to get on board, so it was all good. However it was a problem because our backup meeting location, Harrods, had three locations in the terminal, so as a bit of advice when you are picking a spot to meet people, please pick one spot, not 3.

I spent my time left roaming around looking for Mdme. Cortas, without any success. I was a getting a bit worried, if she didnt make it, what was i going to do in Lebanon!? They called for boarding. Shoot, still no Sana. Thankfully were were delayed at the gate for 30 extra minutes, which would give Sana more time. Regarding my seat mates on this flight, all that matters is that it was not Sana. the flight was spent sleeping and building contingency plans.

When i landed i did what any person without a guiding hand does, follow others. I followed the crowd, i did what they did, except when they got their luggage, i didnt do that. My luggage never came. That meant i had lost two things that day, my chaperon and my luggage, so i was in Lebanon, without my host and without my luggage. Ultra lame.
Luckily i packed prepared for this, and i put only clothes and trash type items in my checked baggage, but unfortunately no amount of cameras/ lenses and laptop will provide warmth whilst i am sleeping on the streets of Lebanon, maybe i could go downtown and join the protesters, i hear they have heated tents.

After standing in line for an extra 45 minutes to report my baggage had left me i emerged from the airport to find a throng of people waiting to recive their passengers, and among them i found the Cortas' i had lost their daughter and my luggage, but they found me even after my extra long delay witht he luggage. Thank goodness for their commitment. We embraced, and i was so happy to see them, waiting in line for 45 minutes after waiting for the luggage for fifteen gave me an hour of what ifs, but i was glad i never had to realize any of them thanks to the hospitality of Najwa and Sami.

@ 14:04:10



Nothing interesting in Boston, thankfully.
Boston was another last minute situation, i landed around the final call, thankfully it was the next ramp over. And i was able to get on board with out any problems, i even bought a scone, since i had not been fed since 11 am and it was 7.20pm. I bought the scone after final call, but was able to maintain eye contact with the gate operator during my transaction.

@ 20:07:35


Dallas was another story.
I landed as my other flight was boarding, except it was boarding in a diffrent terminal. I scuttled over to the train between the terminal, but i found not one train, but two. Neither one said it was going where i needed to go, but i chose the second train anyhow. Randomly picking trains when you are already late is quite hair raising. Especially since my whole vacation hinges on tight flight connections, if i miss this all my flights will suffer from the domino effect.
Back to dallas and my train situation. On my fated train. i found a airport map and found i was on loop, and that either train would have worked, and neither train was closer, cause it was on the other side. On the train there was a another object blocking my path too. It was about 7 feet tall and standing directly infront of the doors. He had gotten on at the alst stop but wasnt getting off at mine. I gently asked him to "excuse me" but i guess my voice was too soft to climb to the peak that was his head, so i repeated myself. He took offense to this and made a small scene. A word to the world, do not try and pick fights to people who travel in slip on moccasins. I can speak for all of us moccasin wearers, we are not violent. Unless you are steven segall. On the plane my mates were a freshman girl at University of Arizona, among other things she didnt know, she thought lebanon was a bus ride away from london, which is somewhere in east france.

@ 13:01:39

Join the SSSS

In houston i joined the "SSSS". The super serious search society. While i was in my member meeting, my search buddy chastised me for my choice of destination. Didn't this fellow know that if it werent for us young males travleing alone to middle east countries he wouldnt have a job? So they stripped me of my moccasins, thats right, i was wearing moccasins. As if i could hide anything in my soles, oh wait, i dont even have soles. that didnt stop Mr fife from going over my glorfied hosue slippers with a fine tooth comb. after giving the rest of my kit the same treatment he let me go. Everything else went swimmingly. My flight mates had no clue where lebanon/beirut were. I played Starcraft on the plane.

@ 11:01:37

Its go time.

Today i set off for winter funtime. I will be going with Sana to her hometown of beirut and from tehre we will also go on to kenya for a little safari action. We will meet up in London and then travel on to beirut for a few weeks before we go to Kenya where will stay for a little over a week, returning on the 5th of january, we will leave lebanon a few days later.
@ 00:32:20



First post!
@ 11:13:25