So after a decent Libyan meal at Leptis Magna, we set off for Tripoli again. However, one or two people needed air-time and some pressies for family, so we quickly looked around the curious available at Leptis Magna, and then set off. However, one of our guests, Jenny, still needed a proper Libyan outfit for her hubby, so we made a stop at the town adjacent to Leptis, called Al Khums/Al Khoms pronounced El G (hard G)ôms. Interesting about this very arid looking town is the origin of the name. When Arabs arrived at the Roman occupied town in the ancient times, they were much surprised to find everyone being taxed 1/5 of their income. They then called the place Al Khoms, or Arabic for one fifth. Now that made me think about the local outrage names of towns and streets changing. Imagine living in "Capital Gains Tax Road" or living in the town of "Value Added Tax".
Oh, but before lunch, we quickly popped over to an ancient amphitheatre, 2 km away from Leptis. A 17 000 seater stadium with the most amazing acoustics awaited us. If I stood at the bottom and spoke in a normal voice, people standing right at the top could hear me. I was able to walk through the narrow tunnels under the seats where the lions were kept, gladiators waited and many a Christian waited for their final meeting with Fate. As a Christian being able to walk the ground that many of my unnamed heroes in the faith walked before was quite a special experience. I said a prayer of thanks quietly underneath the stadium in one of the tunnels, appreciating the faith and strength of those who didn't waiver even in the face of death for Who they believed in. If only I could become a fifth of that!
Well, before just skipping over lunch, let's have a look at this.
Now, as you'll learn by traveling through Libya is that the whole touristiness of sites are absent. Their are few or any visitors, you can get on anything, climb on top of everything or simply touch everything. Now, with this comes the facilities... the restaurant adjoining this amazing site is a simple affair, with little or no style in decor and pretty much plastic garden chairs for seating, BUT the food, well, 5 star. Food simply cooked, not overly spicy, but fresh as the morning dew. A soup and a spicy stew was followed by fruit as a dessert with bananas the size of batons.
Then we got back into the bus and headed westward to Tripoli. But first, we stopped in Al Khom's main street for some shopping.My assistant asked me to bring him some of the local tobacco products of the area, and as Shisha is a bit bulky for me to transport, I settled on buying him a packet of Libyan ciggies, called Rihadi's. At R6.50 for a pack of 20 I didn't complain much, cuz at the best of days I'm barely tolerant of smoking. I also took note, like I did in Tripoli, that barber shops are still big here. I walked into one and boldly asked the guy who looked like the owner whether I could take a picture. He enthusiastically agreed. His name was in fact Muhammed. He offered a hair-cut, which I would've taken for the simple novelty of experience, but we were asked to be brisk about business so we could get back to Tripoli in good time. Regretfully I declined, but shared some niceties in broken English and serious hand gesturing with Muhammed.
On the way back to the bus, I noticed a small photo store. I went inside and tried to communicate, but we didn't get far. However, we did take turns in taking pictures of each other and we did manage to communicate that we're pro photographers (he's into events and family pics) and I'm from South Africa, and he is -no kidding - from Libya. We also managed to exchange emails.
Also I managed to take one picture of a door in Al Khoms, but as it fell outside the scope of "Doors of Tripoli" by virtue of location, this will probably be the last time you see that pic.
Anyways, onward we went to Tripoli for the rest of our experience. More of our dinner at The Corinthia, midnight coffee run and getting lost with a taxi driver, next time.