Valere and Barbara Gaspard did a strange reversal of the traditional honeymoon today. Married last Saturday in Niagara Falls, Canada, they arrived here to spend three weeks in war-torn Lebanon.
To get here, they made a 17-hour, 130-mile crossing with 31 other bedraggled passengers from Cyprus. On the way, an Israeli gunboat delayed the rusting Lebanese motor vessel Ibrahim in which they sailed.
The Gaspards, both Canadian citizens of Lebanese descent, intend to visit relatives. Barbara, 21, visited Lebanon once before -- during a rare peaceful period.
"Sure I'm scared," she said. "But I'm here because I'm being a good wife."
Not many people travel to Beirut these days, and the trip is not a simple matter.
Visitors can fly to Damascus, Syria, and then drive through a potential war zone in mountainous eastern Lebanon, or they can fly to Tel Aviv and spend a couple of days arranging passes and a military escort through Israeli-occupied southern Lebanon.
Or would-be visitors can wend their way to the vacation island of Cyprus, as the Gaspards did, and then take their chances with a motley fleet of aging vessels that sail to Juniyah, a former luxury resort 20 miles north of Beirut.
Many passengers on the boat with the newlyweds -- all Lebanese or of Lebanese descent, except for two journalists -- shared the common concern for determining how their families survived the war that they hope has just ended. In some cases, the passengers were men working in the Persian Gulf who were returning to take out their families.
All were Christians who said they supported the Israeli ouster of the Palestine Liberation Organization.