Ok, so I've been a tad busy, and haven't gotten around to posting new stories, but I'm back, and today, we're finishing the Libya trip. It's also about time, since I've been blogging about the trip on and off for the last 4 months!
Ever since we got to Tripoli, Jenny Morris have been trying to see the local food. An earlier excursion to the fish-market, close to our hotel, was met with disappointment, as most of the mongers had left by then. However, we all commented on a public fishmarket that has marble work surfaces! Well, I suppose old habit die hard for people who were invaded by marble and granite crazy Romans.
So, as a first stop, before we were to hit Sabratha, another immaculate UNESCO World-Heritage Site, we stopped at the port quickly, to go and see early morning activities in the fish-market. And I must say, wow! The array and quality of catch was quite amazing, even for someone like myself who's not keen on seafood. But I did grow up in a fishing village, so I know what decent fish looks like!
We were extracted from the market soon enough, because we still had to travel to Sabratha. I realised that this was my last chance to get piccies of the city and started taking pics through the windows, etcetera, just for memories.
Advertising is not big in Libya, except for the political billboards, showing Libya's 40 year independence, and then, billboards of the African Union (Ghadaffi chairs the Union), billboards of Ghadaffi and then one billboard shoing that strange yellow cooldrink. We kept heading west.
An old Byzantine baptistry, dating back to the very early years of Christianity. As a baptised Christian, I felt privileged to be able to see the place where brothers and sisters of mine were ushered into God's Kingdom, years and years ago. The baptistry is in the shape of a crucifix, about 5 feet deep, with steps leading down to the bottom. This would've made immersion fairly easy.
We spent a good time wandering around the ruins, and I must admit, I got left behind many times, and missed out on most of the history, on account of taking pics, jumping of artifacts (why one has the urge to do that defies modern logic) and horsing around.
As is Leptis Magna, Sabratha is adjacent to the Mediterranean, in fact, as is most intelligent life in Libya. Inland lies only Sahara, desert and a pipeline Ghadaffi is building to get water from the biggest underground aquifer in the world, the one underneath the Sahara. Some reckon the water there was on the surface as far back as 2000 years ago. Or something like that. But I digress.
We were then led to the most impressive ruin I've seen in my whole stay there, the Sabratha theatre.
This is a panoramic stitch of the theatre, so it belies the actual size of it. The area behind the stage is probably about 15 metres high, or higher, and most of it was beautifully restored and preserved.
Then we were once again treated to a hearty Libyan meal in the local restaurant, which is a tad more stylish than the one at Leptis, but still basic. The food however, perfect.
At the airport. Ready to board. I packed and unpacked my bags 6 times for security. Getting out of Libya is almost as difficult as getting in. Everyone was kind nervous, as security was a tad more ruthless on our exit.
Also, having flown there business class, coming back economy was a bit of a let-down, and thus I was not able to sleep as well for the 12 hours back. I simply can't do it! Back in JHB I had to spend 6 hours waiting for my flight back home.
As a first trip overseas, I must say, I'm really privileged to have been to one of the least visited places for Westerners in the world! Reading John Simpson's recount of his travels in Tripoli, in A mad world, my masters, it feels great to know, that I've been one of the lucky firsts of Westerners to visit this fabulous country. I want to go back. Soon.
A quick thanx to Aviareps (www.aviareps.com), Air Afriqiyah and Jenny Morris for getting me on this trip, it was most awesome! What an experience.
Links to the previous posts on Libya:
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Till next time, Salaam.