Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Back!

Back in Sweden (taking cat to NY tomorrow...wish kitty luck and easy travel!) and boy is it a relief to go to the bathroom with an actual toilet and with actual toilet paper!

Libya really was an adventure. The Lonely Planet guidebook we bought, though only 4 years old, is already noticeably obsolete in many areas because Libya has been changing so rapidly since various embargoes have been listed in the past years. Dress for female tourists is not so strict anymore (Meaning, if your shirt has short sleeves, or your pants are bitchpants, that's okay, but you still shouldn't expect to go into any mosques without proper attire...this isn't Saudi Arabia, but nor is it Tunisia.) and prices have increased considerably (1 dinar is roughly equal to 1 dollar, and things like, say, a can of Pringles (Yes, they had Pringles!) costs about the same, but gas is only around 1 SEK per liter!). But even though there has been more of an influx of tourists during the past couple of years, Libya is still amazingly unused to tourists, and the eclipse brought, for them, a startling number of pale people into their midst...numbers they'd never seen before, and probably will never see again in their lifetimes. To me, it was a bit of a disconcerting thing to be constantly stared at by every single person while walking down the sidewalk. While driving by in the buses, people would wave; adults...usually you only see kids doing that in most places I've been to. Another thing the guidebook mentioned was that people, being muslims, did not like their picture taken. This has taken a vast turn with the invention of cellphones with digital cameras. At the eclipse site, we were inundated with loads of young Libyan men, all asking if they could take pictures of us with them, and groups of them would come, each wanting a shot taken with his cellphone camera. We, the pale tourists, were as novel to them as the sights we saw were novel to us.

We passed wonderfully large billboard images of Colonel Qaddafi staring dreamily at his goal of a unified Africa, and visited some extremely stunning Roman and Greek ruins, remarkably intact. Beautiful mosaics, columns and baths covered in marble, huge temples and theatres, all of which we could go right into and almost feel the spirits of those who'd been there before.

Lennart's still fixing the image directories, and I'll put up the links to those when finished, as well as a few smaller tales of events and one moment of sheer terror. Meanwhile, I'll include a couple of pictures:

Part of the tent city in the middle of a very flat part of the Sahara. The nothingness you see in the distance was all there was to see, outside of our little temporary city:





The air conditioned internet tent from my previous post:





Locals watching us watch the skies. Note that they're all men. There were some women at the site, but they stayed well away from us strange people:





Me in my eclipse watching garb. It was SO hot from the sun...I had soaked my pareo in water and wore it on my head to cool off and avoid sunburn. I got several comments from fellow tourists as to how fashionable I looked, and LOTS of locals asked if I would let them take their picture with me. I guess I looked pretty silly. :)





One quick preview of some of the ruins, here's Lennart standing in the wonderfully preserved theatre of Leptis Magna:

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