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May 17, 2002

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Entering Lebanon from Syria isn't a problem since Syria controls its smaller neighbor. Bigger than life posters of the Syrian president hang all over Lebanon. The Syrian government maintains low profile control over Lebanese politics in order to maintain the peace. The Syrian army entered Lebanon to end this country's civil strife between displaced Palestinians and the native Christian population. One political theory claims that Syria made a secret deal with Israel and America. Syria's army entered Lebanon (with Israel and America's consent) to end the civil war and keep Palestinians from raiding Israel from Lebanon. In return for these efforts, Syria stayed in Lebanon to make money from Lebanon's lucrative banking and import/export businesses. They haven't left yet.
We stop for the night in Tripoli, exchanging our Syrian pounds for Lebanese Lire. Tripoli keeps its Arabic character better than any other Lebanese city. An old citadel overlooks old town's souq filled with medieval and Mamluk architecture.
Lebanon is twice as expensive as Syria for food and accomodation. A reasonably cheap hotel room costs $20 US for the night. The US dollar is used more as the local currency than Lebanese Lire (1500 Lebanese for 1 US dollar)