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

Into the Sahara...

Click on photos for larger images:


Despite the long "adventure" we'd just gone through at the Tripoli airport, most of us were still upbeat -- relatively speaking -- and eagerly anticipating our Saharan week. But we were more than ready for a bit of sleep before our morning departure.


Exiting the airport, we met the men who would be our drivers for the next week, and we drove to and checked into the dusty Fezzan Hotel -– the last hotel we’d see for a week. Although it was 3:30am, we still had to fill in the usual Libyan hotel registration forms (name, address, passport details, occupation, etc., etc. Although, unlike our other hotels, we didn’t have to provide parents’ names!)


When we got to our room, I noted it was beside a staircase. “Well, at least we’re near a fire escape”, I said. However, the next morning, when we took those stairs down to breakfast, we discovered that the door to the ground floor was locked. Fortunately, there was no fire while we were there.


That next morning, just a little bleary-eyed, we packed ourselves into 8 old Toyota Land Cruisers. I was told that one had an odometer reading over 1,000,000 km … and believe me, those are rough kilometers! There were also two pickup trucks for meal supplies. Our drivers were all from the Sabha area, and they do these tours regularly.


Scenes from Sabha, taken from our hotel


Into the desert:

We drove off into the Sahara, very gradually shedding signs of the town and “civilization”, like roads and the ever-present garbage. Skeletal cars lay partly buried in the desert. We stopped to top up the gas tanks, and bought some snacks and drinks. I'm sure none of us quite appreciated the fact that these would be the last cold drinks we would have for days.



A little later, we ate our first lunch underneath some trees by the roadside beside the museum in Germa. (The museum was closed, but we would visit on the way back). The lunch was fine -– chopped tomatoes, fava beans, chick peas, two kinds of cheese, bread, etc. -- but we didn’t realize at the time that we would be eating exactly the same lunch every day for the next week. Variety was provided by the accent of some canned tuna, or sardines. (One day after returning while surfing the Internet for Libya info, I came across a journal of some Irish eclipse chasers. It included a photo of their lunch. Could have been ordered from the same take-out restaurant!)


The first of many jewellery-selling Touaregs we would see over the next week sat on blankets nearby. They were much more aggressive salespeople than the merchants in Tripoli. Taking a brief look at any item would get you a determined selling job… at least as much as possible given the language barriers. The vendors generally spoke French with us. One young seller at this site, somehow convinced we wanted one of his pieces (we didn’t) kept dropping the price – from $70 US eventually to $20.


Through the next week, despite the number of sellers we encountered, we saw not a lot of variety. Most seemed to make the same kind of pieces, including desert foxes, “Tuareg crosses”, necklaces, etc.


Afterward, we left Germa, and didn't see another town for a few more days.

Last cold drink for days

A regular sight: cars given up to the desert

First of many identical lunches

Desert Dressing

While in Germa, some of our group did some shopping in one of the few stores in town -- buying cloth for Tuareg turbans or tagelmoust. (Photo at left) As we spent more time in the desert, more of the travellers began adopting variations of desert clothing.


Tying it properly was always fun. The Lonely Planet gives a nine-step guide to tying it properly. Step 1: "Fold the cloth so that it remains the same length but half the width".... etc. It concludes with Step 9: "Ask your Tuareg guide to sort it out".


Below, Michael and Sandy read the instructions, while Oksana and I mess it up. To the right: the correct application of Step 9. (Photos below by Erica Smythe)




NEXT - Sun, sand, water... and other liquids:  Our obsessions for the next week.

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