A photo-journal of our Libyan Solar Eclipse & Sahara trip, Mar.-Apr. 2006
PAGES:   Index | Tripoli | People | Roman sites | In Tent City | Eclipse |Tent City story | To the Sahara
In the Sahara | Sun, sand, water | Desert notes | Drivin' | Some civilization | Last days
 Libya links | | Eclipse links | Photo gallery |

Photos & journal by John Leeson (Toronto, Canada)
 email:  jooktoronto@gmail.com


Click on photos for larger images:

Photo above by Bonnie Bird

It seems like all the world is fighting
They’re even talking of a war
Let all the Russians and the Chinese
And the Spanish do their fighting
The sun is shining
We’re going drivin’, drivin’

Drop all your work
Leave it behind
Forget all your problems
And get in my car
And take a drive with me

The sandwiches are packed
The tea is in the flask
We’ve plenty of beer
And gooseberry tarts
So take a drive with me...

...And all the troubled world around us
Seems an eternity away... 

From "Drivin" by The Kinks, written by Ray Davies (1969).






No wonder we got a flat:

Driving ...that's how we spent most of our waking hours while in the Sahara, and it's one of things I most remember.



We drove over long stretches of flat rock, broken rock, desolate moonscapes, which eventually changed into bleak, ruddy red-coloured hard sand. Bonnie said it looked like Mars, but we “just needed some rocks”. Bad choice of words, as we soon had more rocks to drive and bounce over than we ever “wanted”.


Before reaching the beautiful -- and soft -- sand seas, we covered the region named by the Tuareg "The Ocean of Stone", described in the Lonely Planet guide as "a large undulating plain covered with black stones, which looks like a post-apocalyptic vision of the end of the earth; it makes for slow going".


It sure did... slow and rough. Before going to Libya, I'd read others' accounts of driving through the area. One traveller warned travellers to wear their seat belts, to avoid hitting your head on the roof of the car. Fortunately, since we didn't have seat belts, we didn't hit any bumps quite that hard.


The terrain (and the sensation inside) ranged from hard, bone-shaking travel over rocks, to twisting and lurching over soft sand. There was the regular excitement of dramatic climbs up the (relatively) hard windward side of the huge dunes, ending with a moment's perch at the top when we would discover how long and steep a drop we were about to enjoy. (Or not, as occasionally a car would get stuck in the softer sand at the top).


I recall one vivid image of the line of cars racing at 80 km/h over flat, hard-packed sand and gravel plains while heading toward the dark, dramatic Acacus mountains. 


The rides were "intense" enough that Oksana typically took 3 Gravol (anti-motion sickness) pills a day! Besides the bouncing and twisting, we'd be treated to the hot desert air (unscientific readings reached 43C inside one car), along with a steady diet of sand.


And, given the age and mileage of the cars, and the intense terrain, we had surprisingly few mechanical problems.





Lunch time was a welcome rest, and at the end of the day, tea or coffee were a real treat.


Despite that all, all that driving was simply fun! For a more visceral sense of driving, see David Makepeace's "Desert Trek Short Film" (3:30). It requires Quick Time.


And... there was music to drive by.


The drivers brought a (small) supply of cassette tapes. In our car, our driver, Ibrahim had two tapes. Occasionally, there was a swap with other drivers, but otherwise we got pretty used to those two tapes. Neither the tapes nor the tape player were in good shape, so he had to stop it from jumping periodically. We had a few favourite songs that played over and over… and over...

Rough roads


Shade... and rest (above). Coffee and cookies after another rough day on the road (below)


Ibrahim stops the tape from skipping, so he and Oksana can enjoy the tunes...



 Next: brushes with civilization... & more liquid obsessions


PAGES: Index | Tripoli | People | Roman sites | In Tent CityEclipse | Tent City story |To the Sahara
In the Sahara | Sun, sand, water |  Desert notes | Drivin' | Some civilization | Last days