December 31st, 2007 – by: tj1777
The main camp
I wake up early in the morning and try to take my left hand outside my sleeping back to check the time. What a mistake the second the fresh air hits my bare arm I realize it is cold - it is not just a little cold it is bitterly cold. I give up on time - it is still before sunrise so I definitely don't have to get up yet. I try to go back to sleep. Sunset comes along - and it is still really really really cold. I mean this is the Sahara but it is still freezing temperature is well below zero I wait in the warmth of my sleeping back until my alarm goes of and there is no way to postpone the inevitable anymore - got to get up to get breakfast.
I make it across the dune to face the crowds of the camp. And the water has boiled it is time for coffee and a bite to eat. Somebody else has tried to take the honey - he has got no success in his attempt to get it out of the 20 grams pack it comes in.
The freezing temperature means honey is solid. Ok there will be no honey for breakfast this morning - or jam which seems to get solid at even higher temperatures. The only thing left is nutella chocolate. Usually this is pretty solid but in Libya it is the only thing which will leave the pack it comes in when it is subzero temperatures.
My little breakaway camp
After breakfast nobody wants to stay at camp longer than necessary it is way too cold. We walk across the dune for a while walking actually helps to generate enough heat to over come the cold - maybe the fact the sun is starting to get warm also means something.
Then the trucks picks us up - they have put air in their tyres again it is only gonna be a short drive on sand today.
We don't get stuck in the sand despite the higher tyre pressure and we hit the tarmac - bye bye to the sand it has been amazing. We head north on the road - and then suddenly something is strange the cloud cover is ever increasing - this is not looking good if it were at home these clouds would mean rain for sure - but this is Libya we should be safe right?
Our heater for the night
Suddenly something hit the windscreen of the car. It does have a certain resemblance of rain - but come on this is Libya it can't be rain. But it is - and we are supposed to camp. We stop for lunch and it is windy - really windy. This is not looking to good it is gonna be a New Years Eve camping outside in rain and wind and possibly subzero temperatures as well - not my idea of an ideal way to celebrate the new year.
Well we still quite a bit of a drive maybe it will be better 100k from now. No it is not getting better. Then we come to an intersection and we have a choice - do we want to camp in the storm and rain or do we want to stay 17 persons inside in three rooms sleeping on the floor. The vote is unanimous - everybody wants the rooms.
Some of our drivers - looking seriously
We get the rooms but there is no heating - after all this the Sahara they haven't really invested a lot in their heating systems. But our drivers show the way they have taken a wheelbarrow with a fire in it a taken it inside there room to warm it up - they also cook in the other room. This means the rooms are nice and warm - they may die by carbon monoxide poisoning - but who cares as long as it is nice and warm.
We decide to copy them and get our own wheelbarrow with a fire. We also got the daily portion of pistachio nuts - which means nutshells. Hmm nutshells they'll burn right - let's put them on the fire. They burn alright but they also produce and unusual amount of smoke so we got to take the wheelbarrow outside to survive.
The group still not drunk - celebrating New Year
Well after almost suffocating in smoke we go to dinner. This is a really big surprise there is soup - really good as always - and there is chicken with rice. No camel first day for more than a week we are not having camel for dinner - a novelty. Now we are in a bar - beers? Well no - unless you want non-alcoholic beer. Ok let's face it this is gonna be the first New Years Eve for as long as I can remember without a drop of alcohol. We eat the dinner and then go to the rooms for the nice warm air and fight to stay awake until midnight - well we kind of compromise and agree to stay awake until it is midnight in Istanbul which is 11 in Libya - at 11 we all say our happy new year and go straight to bed. This is also the first time for as long as I can remember I went to bed before midnight on a New Years Eve.