Brought to a standstill in a sandstorm,
blown up in the searing heat of a Ghibli
wind, the Libyan desert was not the
most comfortable place to be. It was
akin to being hosed down with red hot grit whilst standing in front of an
open blast furnace door. On one three man desert walkabout, down on the Algerian border, we met just such
conditions and had to hole up for the best part of three days. When the storm abated, and we were able
to get ready to move on, the view before us was quite startling. First the vehicle had to be dug out of
the sand which had built up against one side and halfway across the
roof. The track we had been on had
almost disappeared, it was just possible to make out a few sections in the
direction we were heading. The landscape had undergone dramatic change, the
wind had altered the shapes of the surrounding dunes and it was a whole new
scene before us. One had the greatest respect for the people who walked
with the camel trains, heading unerringly across the desert for the isolated
towns and villages to deliver supplies of salt and vital commodities. Not
for them the luxury of the Sat-Nav of today.
Stars, an understanding of nature, and an inbuilt sense of direction were
all they had or even needed.
That preamble paints a very harsh picture
of the country and yet it could be a land of stunning scenery and
outstanding history. My three year tour there, 1956 – 59 based on Tripoli, passed all
too quickly. In the linked sections I try to show a side of Libya
that many on short postings may not have seen. The main pictures have lain hidden in the
back of an old album for nearly fifty years. They were saved from two calendars which
I think were 1957 and 1958, and I have mixed them to show the scenic and
historic sides of the country.
There is a great variance in the spelling
of many place names due to different periods of history, some having up to
six alternatives. I have gone with the spelling as I knew it but fully
accept that others will remember things differently.
The names of the photographers have been
lost in the mists of time but I fully acknowledge their work in recording
the best sights of Libya.
They are supplemented with some of my own photographs, unfortunately in
black and white, and a few comments to help paint the picture of life as I
knew it in Libya.
One enduring memory I have is of lying
back against the wheel of a vehicle, wrapped in a blanket in the middle of
the night and gazing up into a blue-black inky sky, unspoilt by man-made
light pollution, and looking at myriads of stars with the occasional
shooting star flashing across the horizon at breakneck speed. There was the
feeling that to stand up and take one pace forward would be to step into a
whole new universe.
photos are numbered to identify them as the work of Galen R Frysinger, a much travelled
man, and as such remain his property. His web site contains many remarkable
collections of photographs from his world travels. I have used some to
illustrate areas I visited but of which I have no photographs of my
Copyright © Galen R Frysinger.