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24 Mar 2006 - Tripoli
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Covered street in Medina (old Tripoli) Arch of Marcus Aurelius Dome of mosque in Algeria Square, formerly the city cathedral
The morning was spent in the company of Mr Mohammed, who gave us a detailed tour of the Tripoli Museum, located in the old castle. A useful foretaste of what is to come in our exploration of this country, with a long history going back half a million years of human habitation. There are so many Greek and Roman statues and mosaics here it is a wonder that there are any left in the places we shall visit for real in the coming days!

Then he took us off to the old city, a warren of old houses and narrow streets. Relatively quiet and with few shops open because today, Friday, is the muslim day of rest, but there may be a little more activity come evening. The centre-piece of a tour here is the Roman arch of Marcus Aurelius, which was demolished in the 4th century by a poweful earthquake that struck the region - more of which tomorrow probably - but now reconstructed from the fallen blocks. It is situated about 7ft (2m) below the level of the surrounding city, which goes to show how the level has build up in 2000 years. In fact its is likely that under Tripoli, the very name of which alludes to three cities (metropolis), there are remains every bit as extensive as at Leptus Magna, where we shall visit tomorrow, but must remain concealed beneath the modern city.

All in all, a fairly restful day, with no driving, to allow people to recover from the rigours of their various journeys to get here, 4 of whom arrived straight from New Zealand and are battling with a 10 hour time difference.

In the late afternoon the shops began to come to life, and I set off on a quest to obtain a screw to allow the cord of my heavy duty battery to be secured firmly to the Minolta Dimage 7 camera I shall use for the eclipse. I was annoyed at losing something so simple yet important because this camera, old by today's standards of digital cameras, is fiendishly hungry on power and ordinary AA batteries are guaranteed to die at the moment of totality. Anyway, in what appeared to be a district entirely devoted to clothes shops I eventually found a hardware store, so problem solved.

A nice group meal out in another restaurant, with a chance to dissect what I think is known in the UK as a St. Peter's fish - a stereotypical fish as a child would draw, with good flavour, but a mass of bones to the unwary!

Now writing up this journal and off to bed soon for an early start tomorrow to the ancient Roman city of Leptus Magna.

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