Day 83 - Just Roman Around
Trip Start Aug 07, 2007
68Trip End Nov 07, 2007
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Beard: The Extended Family
Distance Driven: 11,580km
Frame of Mind: Weary
I am writing this on a Arabic keyboard and the screen is running from right to left so it is a bit difficult, a little like writing your name in a mirror without being able to see your hand.
I have changed my mind about Libya, but only about the rubbish. The Libyans are just as bad as anyone. I was temporarily deceived by the fact that they tend to sweep all their rubbish to the end of the street and leave it there, or pile it up on the seashore. In fact they seem to generate a HUGE amount of the stuff, most of it seems to be construction leftovers from the omnipresent building work.
Day 80 - Along the Coast
Aside from the 10km or so of beachfront fortifications (mentioned above) around Derna the
Those green ridged mountains reminded me of a cult classic to which alternative lyrics sprang to mind and I found myself warbling along happily to. I was on my way home:
Take me home, coastal roads
To the place where I belong
Eastern Libya, Mountain Muammar
Take me home, coastal roads
Enough of this silliness. After a brief stop at the scenic viewpoint of Ras al Hilal I arrived at Apollonia, one of the four big Greek/Roman sites in Libya. This is the smallest and least
After Cyrene the road turns inland through those green mountains, which offers some more
The hotel was a bit grotty and a lot overpriced but needs must. I had a shower and headed out for some food. I found a little eatery with some good smells coming from it but the language barrier reared its ugly head again. I had forgotten my phrase book but did spot some 'fuul' (beans) on someone elses plate. Nope, that was finished. I resorted to looking really hungry and pointing at my mouth till they gave me some, any food. It turned out to be a lamb stew very reminiscent of a Moroccan tagine. It was top. Really tasty. Really cheap. I finished the meal off with some Libyan custard that seems very similar to all other custards, which I happen to like very much. I fell asleep to Mr Segal's classic 'Under Siege'. A very good day all round.
Day 81 - Dust & Decisions
I did have a decision to make the next morning though. My bike was behaving badly. It felt like it was losing power because of a dirty filter or rubbish fuel but I didn't think that was it at all. I had a feeling it was more internal engine-y and I didn't like it. I decided that plouhing on was not the way forward so spent an hour investigating. I was 90% sure that it was simply the chain being a cheap piece of crap. So I cleaned and oiled it, massaged it, adjusted it and things seemed much better. I was ready to head off when the dust storm
The wind had only died down a little but by 3 o'clock I was so bored I threw caution to...umm...the wind and set off. It was 600km to the next big city but there was a place a couple of hundred clicks down the road that would shorten the next day's journey considerably. It was not the most pleasant drive I've ever had but certainly not as bad as I had imagined. By 5 the dust was gone and I had clear skies for the sunset over Ajdibiya, where I spent the night.
The hotel smelled like stale cigarettes, damp and excrement. Normally I'd have gotten drunk to compensate but this is Libya so I turned on the AC really high. At about 10pm the fuses blew and I was plunged into darkness which lasted. I had to go to sleep - not an issue as I was battered. Then the hotel decided to wake me up by telephoning my room at 11, 12 and 1. They didn't give me any breakfast. They did take 20USD off me for the pleasure of staying there. Hotel al Medina for your information. Big up.
Day 82 - Accomodation not a Dead Sirte
The 450km drive to Sirte turned out to be much nastier than the previous day's. I had clear skies but viscious low-level winds that very cleverly blew sand exactly into the places that my glasses do not protect my eyes. Adding in the fact that the road was two-way traffic, meaning that every lorry that passed me in the other direction was a cross between a punch in the face (well, with one of those big fluffy cue-tips they use on Gladiator) and an facial exfoliation treatment (I have heard). The 'chain' problem is still there. I adjusted it many a time but couldn't get rid of it. Oh dear. I'm sure I'll find a proper mechanic in Tripoli.
You may have heard of Sirte (Surt). It is where the international talks on Darfur are going on. This means that every man and his dog is in Sirte and there are no hotel rooms free. Silly bear. I knew it was going to be an issue but there wasn't much I could do. I thought of asking them to call it all off but I feel that sorting this Sudan problem out is quite a good idea. I searched and failed. That is when I became acquainted with Mrs Naima Ahmed El Sherif, who is possibly the nicest lady in the world. I met her in a spice shop whilst asking for directions. She was shopping there but decided to help me. She spoke excellent English and is the only female lawyer in Sirte. She showed me to a hotel. No rooms. She got them to ring round all the other hotels to find a room. No luck. There are no places to camp either. The next place with a hotel is 240km away. She then took me to the YMCA (or I assume it is just the YMA in Libya). There were plenty of rooms I reckon but they said there weren't but they did suggest another place that we'd not tried. So she took me there too - by this time we'd just about driven round the whole city. They had one room left. Whoopie! Ok, admittedly I could have driven a few ks down the coast and plonked my tent somewhere but I had had a very hard day and wanted some creature comforts. She then disappeared to reappear a short while later with a goodie-bag full of treats (fruit, juice and biscuits)! What a star. She can be my Libyan mum.
Day 83 - Leptis Magna
It's about 350km from Sirte to Leptis Magna, the most celebrated of the Libyan ruins.
I was going to try and make it to Tripoli by sundown. It's only 120km but I was knackered and couldn't be bothered. There is a campsite next to the ruins so I plonked my tent down, got bitten by a few mosquitos, had a shower and headed into town to find something to eat, hopefully less Egyptian and more Moroccan.