This Quirky Hermit Lives In Lebanon’s Holy Valley; Abby Sewell; National Geographic


Lebanon – Ouadi Qadisha (the Holy Valley) and the Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab)

This Colombian monk set up residence in a mountain sanctuary 17 years ago in the Middle East.

On the sun-dappled terrace of a centuries-old chapel chiseled into a cliffside overlooking Lebanon’s Qadisha Valley, the hermit was lecturing one of his daily visitors on his choice of body art.

Father Dario Escobar, an 83-year-old Maronite monk from Colombia, has become something of a niche tourist attraction since he set up residence in the mountainside enclave 17 years ago. On this hot mid-September day, three hikers from Beirut arrived late in the afternoon hoping to catch a glimpse of him. Initially, it seemed that they would be disappointed, as Escobar was hidden away in his chambers.

But some 20 minutes later, the hermit emerged to close the heavy wooden gate leading into his compound for the night. He paused to chat with his visitors in a mix of English, Arabic, and French.

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