When we were shooting in the Tripoli Citadel (the largest and oldest military fortress in Lebanon), behind us, unbeknownst to the audience, was the army, fully equipped with anti-missile defenses, tanks and fresh bullet holes all over the support wall from a recent shoot-out with rebels. Even in the opening scene, when we were standing on the wall looking out over the city and sea, our cameraman was instructed to be careful, as his camera may have been mistaken for a missile launcher on his shoulder to the rebels hiding in elevated areas. He may have been sniper-ed down! Geez, the lengths we go to bring you a great spice journey!
Don’t get me wrong. I never felt I was in danger during my stay; I felt really safe and relaxed. The one thing that did keep me on edge was the constant precautions we had to take as our Lebanese ground team were on high alert at all times.
“You can’t drive down that street, you may get kidnapped.”
“We've been here for too long; it’s time to move!”
“There's going to be fighting in Tyre tomorrow, we have to cancel.”
“We can’t film walking down the street, the police will arrest us and lock us up.”
Just days before we were due to film, there had been shootings in Tripoli and our scheduled episode was almost cancelled.
Luckily, we got the green light and headed back to Tripoli. It was interesting to speak to the locals about all the trouble and uncertainty in their lives. They had they most laid-back attitude to life despite this and lived for the day, as they knew they couldn’t bank on tomorrow. I found this really relaxing. It helped me focus on the job at hand and not worry too much about the millions of things that were going on back in Australia.
Sitting in Mohammed and Feda’s apartment, I couldn’t help but ask about their home and how they feel about it. It made me smile when they replied, “Here? Where we live is fine; all the fighting happens over there,” pointing to about three blocks north! That's a little too close for my liking.