Photography by Phillip James and Ndoema
If I had to pick my favorite place in the whole wide world for a body & soul digital detox, it would have to be Siwa Oasis. Hands down. It doesn’t get more remote: Tucked away in the Lybian desert, Siwa is only accessible by road and it’s ten long hours away from urban chaos. It doesn’t get more authentic: For thousands of years, this secluded community has peacefully lived in harmony with nature and has largely remained untouched by modern “civilization”. It doesn’t get more sustainable: The Siwan people still build their dwellings with traditional Kersheef, a mixture of salt and mud bricks locally sourced by hand. And this idyllic oasis boasts 300,000 date palms and 80,000 olive trees that thrive on the salt-rich land and an eco-system largely free of chemical fertilizers and practically untouched by herbicides and pesticides. It doesn’t get more healing: This hidden gem is home to hundreds of hot and cool natural springs, four spectacular salt lakes and out-of-this-world natural salt mines.
I’ve never felt so at home in my life as in Siwa, and never expected to be so ecstatic amid miles of pure salt dunes with the North African sunset blazing on the horizon.
Mouftah (my driver/guide/friend and Siwan brother pictured in this photographic series) had promised me an unforgettable experience as I was anxiously quizzing him about the oasis mythical rock salt. This was my very first time visiting a salt mine and my excitement was at fever pitch as we were driving along what seemed like an endless desert road. Mouftah’s words kept echoing in my mind: “if you ever saw this salt out of its context you would never believe it is salt, it looks likes millions of tiny crystals. Magnificent shimmering gems”.
I literally jumped out of the car as we reached our destination and started squealing with excitement. Here I was, standing on the most amazing land on earth! My life was complete.