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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Visiting the Bahariya Oasis

When we arrived at the Bahariya Oasis, we switched from our van to two four-wheel drive Toyota Land Cruisers.  Toyota must have made a ton of money on this design.  The western desert of Egypt is filled with them.  They appear to be quite reliable and long-lived.  Here is a picture of ours.  Note the odometer reading.

That's right, just under 500,000 km or 300,000 miles.

You might notice that stack of white blocks beside the vehicle.  There are a lot of those lying around Bahariya and elsewhere in the western desert.  They are the basic building blocks for construction here.  I lifted one just to make sure they weren't the Styrofoam that they look like.

Here a few have been put to use atop a building to form a mount for electrical service.  Perhaps a full second story will be added later.

Here is a larger project underway using the blocks.

Prior to the introduction of the white concrete blocks, mud bricks were the material of choice and they can still be found baking in the sun before being incorporated into a project:

Here is the project being built with those bricks.

Some people have concerns about finding "critters" in the desert.  I heard snakes mentioned as a possibility but they, like spiders, are apparently dormant at this time of year.  We did find one Praying Mantis making the rounds near the hotel room, though.

Other highlights in Bahariya included a lunch at the local restaurant when we first arrived in town.  We were offered the usual two Egyptian choices of "chicken or meat?"
 The meal was actually quite tasty with the meat coming in a bowl of potatoes and vegetables.  It stayed very warm.

 The next morning, we picked up a few final supplies at the supermarket

Note the sign at the upper lef of the previous picture:

and made one final stop at the vegetable market before heading out to the Black Desert.

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