Newly married, Chris Naylor and his wife Susanna set off for a new life in the Arab world, initially settling in Kuwait. When war forces them to move, they turn their sights on the Jordan and finally Lebanon, settling in to Qab Elias, a small town on the Bekaa plain. And they fall in love with the beauty of the light, the hospitality of the people, and the riches of the wildlife.
After time spent teaching, Chris moves on to working for A Rocha and preserving the Lebanese environment, glorying in the olive groves, the claret-red cyclamens, the pelicans, cranes and frogs.
While they struggle to come to terms with some of the local attitudes to women, they also glory in the warmth shown to them and their children, the riches of the area’s archaeological remains, and the pleasure of seeing the world through Middle Eastern eyes.
“An inspiring story of life in the Middle East” — Sir Ghillean Prance, former Director, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
“Inspiring, challenging, and valuable. It’s not easy to pigeon-hole as it’s autobiography combined with a hugely helpful and well-told narrative about the politics, ecology, cultures, and religions of the region at the crossroads of the world. If you’re puzzled by what’s on the news concerning Iraq, Syria, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the rest of the Middle East, this is a great place to start. It’s told with humour and empathy, and most of all with deep love for the people and the places where many of today’s global tensions focus. Read it soon and you’ll not only be better informed, you’ll see the people and region quite differently.”
— Reverend Dave Bookless, Director of Theology, A Rocha International
“This is Christianity bringing real hope to the wildlife, wild places, and the people of Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley and beyond. It is an extraordinary tale of faith in action with cultural and historical insights sandwiched in regional turmoil.”
— David Chandler, co-author of RSPB Guide to Birdwatching
“This is a very readable and compelling account of a family living through tumultuous events in the Middle East. I can’t think of a better way of getting beneath the surface and understanding something of the culture, religion and politics of the region than through the very varied experiences of Chris and Susanna and their family. Having lived through some of these same events and seen their creative conservation work in Lebanon, I can vouch for the fact that it made a very significant contribution in a troubled country.”
— Reverend Colin Chapman, formerly lecturer in Islamic Studies, Near East School of Theology, Beirut, Lebanon
“The environmental condition of the Middle East is easily forgotten amidst the maelstrom of politics and conflict. This rich and inspiring account of the Naylor family’s adventures in Lebanon, and the setting up of A Rocha’s project to help protect the priceless Aammiq wetlands in the Bekaa Valley, will help put many a conservation battle into perspective. It is thoughtful, wise, and compelling reading, with enough name-dropping of exciting fauna to make you thirst to go there yourself.”
— Dominic Couzens, bestselling natural history writer and author of Secret Lives of Garden Birds