I've just been told that Samir Geagea mentioned in today's press conference that some ATVs were stopped during a trip in Jroud Zahle. I've been meaning to post about this on this blog, but the personal life got in the way.
It is us that he was talking about. On Sunday 15 June 2008, I had a trip planned for my colleagues at work to go on ATV from Ouyoun el Simen to Zahleh through its deserted mountains, known as Jroud, have lunch in Zahle's Wadi Al Arayesh and come back. On our way, we were a convoy of about 10 ATVs, and in the middle of no where we were stopped by armed civil men, carrying AK47s. On the side there was a big white tent. On both sides, as far as 500 meters on each way, there was high deserted mountains. We were asked what we were doing there and where we were going. I gave the name of everyone with me, because I did not want them to stop every ATV and bother them. Luckily I gave them the right names, and all of them.
After they believed that we were only on an adventure trip and going to have lunch in Zahle, and been told never ever to pass by there again because it is a "military" region. They told us that we will not be bothered on our way back.
On our way back, we were stopped again, there was more armed men, and we can see them in far behind big rocks with their guns ready for any action. This time they wanted to search all males in the ATV convoy. The organizer of the trip insisted and persisted over and over again that we are a respected company and only here for adventure and he refused that any man amongst would be searched. After more than 20 minutes of negotiations, they told us that all males should show their IDs, and they compared it to the first list we had given them earlier that day. There was one missing name, but it was okay, because we told them that the guy stayed in Zahle. After they let us go, they were clear that this is a secure zone, a NO-ATV zone... and not to pass from there ever again.
We were just trying to have fun. That is the story.