Growing up in a rural village surrounded by picturesque mountains, I have developed a strong attachment to nature and learned to absorb its healing energy and timeless wisdom. To satisfy this childhood love of nature, I always give a considerable time for outdoor adventures whether back home or on my frequent travels. However, one of those adventures was sort of different than all others.

On a clear sunny afternoon, I set on a trekking excursion with some tourists seeking to discover a holy and majestic valley I had always planned to visit. While driving all the way down to the trekking path from the village overlooking the valley, you feel you are moving to another realm or a distant world as the noises of the villagers’ everyday life start to fade and a mystical serenity announces your arrival to a place you will never forget.

We start hiking through the valley completely taken by the mesmerizing beauty and spirit of the place. On the way, an Australian lady initiates a conversation with me about the history of the valley. She relates that the valley was a refuge for hermits fleeing persecution or seeking solitude since the early centuries of Christianity and especially around the 10th century. Thus, it is home for countless monasteries that you can reach through numerous sub-tracks branching from the main route we were treading. The knowledgeable lady recounts to me interesting details about the lives of different hermits and the history of the eras during which they lived. Our destination was the tomb of hermit Antoun Taraby revered by Maronite Christians.

However, besides the valuable history I learned from a person I met for the first time, what stroke me the most on the trip below the majestic cedars of Lebanon in the northern village Bcharre, where I have grown up and lived most of my life, is that for a moment I felt I was the tourist myself in a distant country learning about its history from someone who knows enough to be the local herself. Though she lives thousands of miles away and though I have explored most of the splendid natural surroundings in my home town through memorable hikes and adventures, there was yet another one for me to explore and an adventure for her to be a local in a distant country.

On this unforgettable trip, I have discovered that besides our insatiable love for nature, humans share an unfathomable connection with this world that no matter where we live, we are eventually all locals of planet Earth. The world has so much beauty and magic that every time we look again we discover something new as if we had never been there before. We only need to open our eyes to this beauty and try to understand the connection uniting us with nature, history, and with each other.