Day 78 - Marsa Matru
Trip Start Aug 07, 2007
68Trip End Nov 07, 2007
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I finally got out of Alex after a near miss mechanic shocker where Dr Death was going to operate on my baby. I cleverly dodged him and did the service myself. I did not manage to get a new oil filter. The old one is looking very much worse for wear. Add this to the incessant leaking of oil from the sump and the nut getting looser and looser and I am in constant fear of my engine seizing up on me. Still it's entertaining to have to look back everytime I hear the tiniest clink, checking for a trail of oil along the road that would indicate that the nut has fallen out entirely and I have a few seconds to say goodbye to Charlotte.
On the way I stopped at El Alamein war memorial and cemetery. It was the Commonwealth one - there is a separate one for Italians and one for Germans. It's an extremely beautiful and powerful memorial and very peaceful - I was the only person there. I wanderded amongst the thousands of grave stones and felt that strange something that you always do in a place such as this.
Although it is only a few hundred metres from the sea the cemetery is, and battle was fought (as indeed all the battles along the N African coast were), in the desert. I couldn't help wondering how the hundreds of thousands of soldiers on both sides could possibly understand or believe the need to fight and die over a worthless piece of desert thousands of miles from their homes.
The inscription on the memorial tells us how we should never forget. But forget what? I'm sure the men will not be forgotten but what of the lessons we learned? I think that we have learnt a great deal from the war: how to build better tanks, the futility of trench warfare, the need for a dominant airforce. But have we actually learnt anything from the causes of the war? Have we ever prevented a war by looking back at history? Are wars fought today over higher reasons than simple hate, ignorance, intolerance and greed? Or are we consigned forever to fighting over pieces of desert thousand of miles from our homes because of such reasons?
As I left Alex so late it was gone 4pm by the time I left the cemetery and I had nearly 200km to cover before dark, which falls around 5:30. I hooned it but didn't quite make it and ended up trying to decide whether night driving with sunglasses was preferable to being blinded by the wind and the occasional suicidal insect. I perfected a rather camp half-way-house where I peered over the top of my suynnies like a Victorian teacher over her hornrims. Egyptians think I'm weird anyway.
Marsa Matru is the Egyptians' posh Mediterranean holiday destination. It's actually quite a nice place. I was expecting Hurghada II but MM hasn't suffered from the same butchery of a beautiful place as so much of the Red Sea. Of course, it is low season and I've not been to the seafront!
So in Marsa I have my last chance for a beer and any Egyptian specialities before Libya. I don't want either.