This is a draft of a little something I am working on. Enjoy!
Two years ago, bouncing in a taxicab just outside of the war-torn city of Beirut, I noticed something that many travelers overlook—the shackin’ sandbar barrels of the Lebanese shore. Perhaps it was fate that detoured me to the makeshift road after an airstrike took out the northern bridge. It was at this moment I knew I would be back to surf this slice of the Mediterranean.
I am a 24-year-old surfer and writer who grew up in Santa Barbara, CA. My youth was filled with flyin’ down the highway to catch the evening glass at Rincon. Driving the California coast is as natural to me as setting up for a frothy winter barrel. But I’m not just a surf adventurist. I am the editor of the cutting-edge Middle Eastern blog www.bloggingthecasbah.com, and have published many articles ranging from the Santa Barbara Independent to the Ma’an News Agency, the largest Palestinian news outlet.
This June I’m taking advantage of my nominal Jewishness by going on a subsidized trip to Israel, where I plan to write a travel piece about surfing the biblical coastline that has been hastily divided into Israel and Lebanon. The looming irony to this travel is that the distance between these two surf breaks is no farther than what I am used to driving in California. Yet, in the Middle East, I am going to have to go through a number of countries to get there.
Keep in mind that the border between Israel and Lebanon is closed, as is the border between Israel and Syria. So, I will surf the Israeli coast as my starting point. Then I will move eastward, through the occupied West Bank, over the King Hussein Bridge into Jordan. I will then go to the Jordanian airport to obtain an entry visa that will make my second American passport look like I entered the Middle East via Jordan. Why the second passport, you may ask? Because those humorless Syrian border guards slam the gate on every Tom, Dick and Harry with an Israeli stamp or suspicious gap in their passport. Oh, the politics!
When I get to the Syrian border, I will have to wait all day in the wax-melting Arabian sun for a transit visa to Lebanon, where I will then depend on local hospitality to carry me to the salty shores of the Lebanese Mediterranean. What is just a simple coastal drive in California is a detour of absurd proportions in the Middle East.
Yet the allure of this trip is not just the crazed concept of surfing the Eastern Mediterranean, it is a modern-day odyssey through an ancient land that has truly been slandered by dry political pundits and divided by warring factions. Armed with the charm of a California surfer, I will present the readers with a fusion of revealing banter, political passport shuffling, ancient-to-modern culture and a healthy dose of satire and smartassery.