Siwa Oasis - Egypt
Siwa, fly blown oasis town in the Western Desert, 50km from the Libyan border. The road in, 497km from Alexandria, endless police check points, flip flop army brigade. This is the way the migrants come, those with one thing on their mind, EUROPE. I can't say I blame them. I'd wanna get out too, questioning my own sanity for wanting to come here, says me in Egypt, one of a few, unlike the rest of Africa, African countries. Ooops I digress, yet again.
Scrambling around the ruins of the Oracle Temple in Siwa. Zero tourists, zero people in fact. 360 degree views. I take my time. I hear donkeys, kids in the near by school, a few motor bikes, the wind and then at just gone noon, the call to prayer goes out, coming in from all directions.
Looking west in the early morning from Shali Fortress in the center of Siwa. Way beyond the sand dunes and the salt mountains lies Libya. Built in the 13th Century from 'kershef', large chunks of salt from Siwa Lake mixed with rock and plastered with clay. Originally, this labyrinth housed hundreds of people but 3 days of rain in 1926 destroyed more than any invader had ever done and since then, people moved out in to newer buildings. The mosque (of course) has been restored as have a few other buildings but mainly used for storage.
(This photo was 'picture ized' in camera, a now rather battered and scratched Nikon s8200)
Despite my room being the pits, Siwa is really OK. Relaxed atmosphere, things to do, a few other travellers but really not many. Trying to sort out onward transportation to the area known as the WHITE DESSERT. But since the Mexican killings 2 months ago, you need a permit that now costs 18US$ per person and the rental of a 4WD that will be 200US$ shared between 4, for the 400km of piste to the town of Bahariya. Shared opinion favours returning to Cairo on the night bus and then heading south. 1 guy wants to go to the White Dessert but over night trips are not permitted now. I'm keen to push south, one other guy too, but maybe not as fast as me.
Looking back to Shali Fortress from the hill centered in the 2nd photo shortly before sunset. A rainbow; a rare thing in these parts. On the left, just below the horizon is The Oracle Temple.
A short ways north of town is Gebel Al- Mawta, Mountain of the Dead. Rock tombs dating back to the 26th dynasty, Ptolemic and Roman times. The Siwans sheltered in the tombs when the italians bombed Siwa in WW2. And it is said that British soldiers paid the Siwans to chisel off part of the paintings within the tombs to keep as souvenirs.
Above you can see how the tombs are incorperated into the Gebel (hill) and how the 'coffins' looked like. The whole site was pillaged by everyone and anyone but there are 4 tombs where the internal paintings remain and with some baksheesh the care taker will manage to get up from the floor where he smokes and drinks chai all day long to open up for you. The second most impressive tomb painting can be seen below, taken thru the bars of the steel door. Very impressive.