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03 Crossing the border // First impressions of Libya
Crossing the border // First impressions of Libya

After about 40 minutes the Tunisian border control was done, in the border zone before the Libyan border we met the guide Ayssa and the police officer Maseoud (without uniform). For the period of our trip the two will join in as "guide and supervisor". This is law and a trip through Libya cannot be made without them. Besides all official duties, the two friendly companions will be our guides and translators, to find the best and safest way through the desert. They are also the protectors of the scenic places and the native Bedouins. Taking all this into account, the relatively high cost for the "guidance" of € 450 per person or € 3.600 total, is well invested money.

Ayssa and Maseoud cleared customs within 2 hours. I used this time to use the truck scale to weigh my overloaded Rubicon. Without passengers it weighed 2.750 kg instead of the allowed max. 2.501 kg. The Rubicon Express 4,5" Super Flex suspension with the rear springs for the Jeep Unlimited paid off. Crossing all the countless dips (silent policeman) the suspension performed perfect, without any unexpected movements, swings or oscillations. I wonder how the fully loaded suspension will perform on washboard roads with long pumps.

After we continued from the border we instantly realized that the colorful vibrant oriental live is missing, compared to Tunisia. Everything seems controlled, similar to the depressing feeling when traveled to the ex-east bloc states behind the metal curtains. But the locals are very nice and friendly. The truck- and other drivers wave and blink.

Ayssa tried to get in Ghadames a permit to drive through the Hamada area. Europeans would believe that this could easy be done by phone, but not in Libya. But even the personal contact didn't help. Due to the fact that there where teams searching for oil in this area, they didn't want to give spy's a change and closed the whole are. So we had to drive very far around this area, instead of going from Darj (100 km east of Ghadames) directly to Idri (130 km west of Brak). We had to drive many boring kilometers. But what can you do? Different countries have different habits. Because the diesel costs only 0,15 Libya Dinars (€0,10) we were comforted by the low cost for the bypass.