Come to Siwa to be all you can be and dream all you can dream.
The Shali fortress in Egypt’s Siwa Oasis was once an imposing 60-meter high structure with sensually round walls constructed from a mix of salt, stone and clay. But the 13th century labyrinthian building virtually melted down following an intense three-day rainstorm in 1926.
Shali, which now resembles a gigantic red-earth anthill located between the Qattara Depression and the Sand Sea in the Egypt’s Western Desert, is still the beating heart of the Siwa Oasis. And a climb to the top on weathered curvy, meandering steps affords astounding 360-degree views.
More intriguingly, Shali’s unconventional material and history combine to create an ideal place to contemplate the meaning of life and the journey of existence. Though it can be visited and climbed at any time of day or night, Shali is a particularly precious spot to enjoy a sunrise or sunset in an oasis within the oasis.
The entrance, just off the main square near the Ambabanshal Hotel that cuddles and embraces the fortress, takes visitors past craft stores filled with the hand-made rugs, salt lamps and ceramics to stairs to the top of the dream-like, sand-castle structure.
I paid my last visit during a full moon and the magical setting sparked an exciting spiritual experience and connection.
When I reached the top, I was greeted by a soothing wind flowing undisturbed from the desert dunes just outside town and a moonlit view of the chain of desert mountains shaped like tagine pots. Between here and there are salt lakes, a wide belt of palm tree forests, sand dunes forming a blue mirror on the desert and the ancient and modern buildings of contemporary Siwa often constructed of brick and sand with occasional splashes of bright colour.
Although vehicle honking is often accompanied by the rhythm of chickens, dogs and pigeons during the day, I’m listening now to the sounds of silence in an oasis that is 18 meters below sea level. What once was an ocean’s bottom is now a unique landscape and desert paradise in exotic natural settings with romantic hot springs surrounded by the palm trees.
As I sit undisturbed, I feel the unending nourishing energy of a paradise that seems to radiate and whisper an enveloping sense of calm and contentment some 300 kilometers south of the Mediterranean Sea and 40 kilometers east of the Libyan border.
I poeticized my thoughts.
“Come and rest,
stay protected and blessed,
in my circle come,
dine for your soul to become
in harmony with the Earth’s ground,
I am here to enrich,
bring you calm, harmony and teach,
the inner feelings may you remember,
we are one, the spirit of Earth and you, we are one,
I am here a spiral and swirl,
bringing through the heaven to you,
To ignite the space and feelings inside
It is you who is carrying the bliss of the new
It is here you surrounder to calm,
It is here your soul still become
It is then you come to hear what is within
It is here you come to feel your dream
The source you are is enriched
Through the deeply touched place you have reached
The inner dream is within ready to dance and real
Coming alive are the joys of life.
The shapes are round and floating just like the dunes
The lake is vivid and salty
The fresh air permits to make you feel good
The salt once mixed with the Earth in builders tools
Shaped into walls formed the stores of minerals
When you surround yourself with material so calm,
You also feel calmness in your body and mind.
When your body is rested when your mind is serene
That is the perfect environment fro the heart to speak real.
For the heart is the engine
The heart knows its pace
It has been hiding before the awakening
Now it is time to open the windows of grace
When the body feels so rested, when the mind so serene
So is heart feeling inner space to be cherished to be green
To be free
To open it sight the secret eye of the heart to shine
The secret eye of the heart is the eye to recognise the right
For when one enters into the state so sweet
when things are right, when all feels so neat
Is that neatness within the body which permits deeply
Into layers long which Gaia embodied
In those shapes so to some obscure
In those shapes beyond the standard is the pure
You may find so unfamiliar yet it takes you deeply inward
The unfamiliar which you are not
Which you aren’t in every day’s plot
Takes you inward to the place so far
So enriching, so nourished, so calm
May you feel this place right now
May you feel its loving hands
May you feel and see the shapes of the salt and Earth and bond
May you rest your inner eyes on the shapes formed by the whispers of the wind and rain
When the rain poured its blessings therefore at peace
And it is still caressing
When it was time for new on Earth
The place withdrew from the original shape
Yet it is not forgotten by the lost
It is here o Earth, it is still to host
Come and rest, come and dine, feel the shapes and open your heart.
Take some breaths and feel into the heart
And hold it firm into your every day life.”
Before I know it the sun begins to rise.
I open my eyes to greet the beauty of nature and life in the oasis, letting its highly oxygenated air infuse my lungs, brain, cells and every part of my body. I breathe again and feel the grandness of life deep inside.
I invite you to come and join me here to find yourself, be one with nature an allow your own beauty and soul to dance and spread its wings. Come to Siwa to be all you can be and dream all you can dream.