It is an unusual morning. January 1st I usually sleep in this morning – but not today I am up before sunrise. Up before sunrise on New Years Day – it just doesn’t happen. I have never been up before sunrise on this day – and in Denmark sun does not raise until about 8.45 in the morning on this day – ok maybe I have been up before sunrise back when I was 6 but I can’t remember that. I guess the complete lack of alcohol the day before got something to do with the fact that I am unusually fresh considering the day of the year.
It will only be a short ½ day drive today to the old city of Gadamis.
Gadamis is a major city in the Sahara and used to be on one of the caravan routes going across the Sahara. It is an old oasis town getting less than 30mm rain in a year (about 1 inch). We start driving across the dessert to get there. As we drive along we see the wadi we were supposed to have camped in the night before – it looks really wet and stormy and we agree it was a good thing we went for the option of the rooms.
As we get closer to Gadamis it looks really wet – this dry spot in the dessert seems to have gotten quite a bit of rain these last couple of days and the sky looks pretty intimidating as well. Oh well we have finally reach what must be described as civilization. The small towns and roadhouses we have been at the last few days don’t really cut it when it comes to civilization too much are missing.
We are gonna spend the night in a couple of villas of which The Leader himself have slept in the master bedroom of one of them. I don’t get the master bed room – our tour leader keeps that one for himself. But I don’t really mind – the master bedroom is without a working heater – the room I am in got an aircon which can also generate heat – and it works what luxury a warm room.
We got almost half a day and decide to go into the old town using the Lonely Planet map. Our guide have told us we will get hopelessly lost if we go in there with only the Lonely Planet map – but we are determined to prove him wrong. We went in the old mud town. The rain the previous days meant the streets were a bit slippery here and there but not too bad.
The town today is a ghost town because everybody left the old houses back in the 70s – but they all still belongs to the owner who can come back and enjoy them in the summer time when they will be a lot cooler compared to the new houses in the modern part of Gadamis.
We went in saw the different squares and mosques inside the old town and then there were a little side street open the doors to one of the houses were open as well. It was too hard to resist the temptation and we all went in – when the door is not locked I guess it is not really breaking and entry but only trespassing – this should be too bad.
We went all the way through the house which is pretty dark in the bottom because there are no windows in the houses only rooftop windows where the light can get in – and then this light is reflected using mirrors all around the house.
Well need to get up to the top of the stairs to see the entire city from the rooftop – the stair is in a somewhat questionable state the house is only partly restored and the last 30 years of occasional rain have meant the mud is partly crumbled. We get to the rooftop and can see all over the city – it is a completely different perspective from up there compared to the streets. We walk around and by now we are 7 or 8 on the roof – the roof of a mud house not fully maintain. Hmm the roof do seem to be a bit wobbly – actually it feels like it is about to break completely. We think about the headlines in the international paper around the world “Group of mad tourist destroy world heritage city” or “8 stupid tourist killed as roof collapse in world heritage site”. Maybe it is time to get of the roof and down to street level again.
We get to the main square in town from where they used to manage the water in a way so everybody got what they where entitled to – they even developed a independent measure of time to make sure the water would be distributed fairly to all the citizens.
We walk on a bit further through the town and then decided to leave again – and we did so without getting lost at all. We did managed to find our way only using the Lonely Planet map so viciously hated by our tour leader 😉
Now it is time to take full advantage of the facilities in this town – use the internet. It is the first place where they have had internet access since 23rd of December. Hence I kind of need to send a few Christmas and New Years greetings. After getting the necessary e-mails sent home I walk past the new mosque in town – and on my way I get hit by some wet stuff – indeed it is rain. In the middle of the Sahara in a town which gets lets than 1 inch of rain a year I get wet in the rain. I am lucky the driver of our minibus has been to town and picks me up just outside the mosque and drive me to the Villa – great of him.
At night we all go back to the old town to have dinner in one of the houses which is restored and function as partly a restaurant and partly a museum of the old Gadamis. Inside the house is all sort of decoration in the house which we did not see in the house we went into during the day – that house had just been plain empty. The interior is very nice with the carpets all over and the bronze on the walls. The diner is pretty good as well.