It has been quite an intense, and fascinating experience, and one that has left me with lots of stories to tell.
Barely touching the ground...
My feet have barely touched the ground since returning from a trip to Libya late last night…It has been quite an adventure - an intense, absorbing, and fascinating experience, and one that has left me feeling very humbled and with lots of stories to tell. I had set out to return to the country after a year of war that has seen the toppling of a brutal and tyrannical dictatorship lasting 42 years. I wanted to visit Libya and see through my own eyes how people were coping, how the country was getting back onto it's feet, and most importantly to try and gage an idea of when it might be open to tourism again. I had little problem moving around and kept my visit to Tripoli and the coastal sites with a few days in Misrata - a city which has been through so much and must be put on the tourist map given it's key involvement during the Revolution. Considering what the country has been through I was amazed at how warmly I was received, how pleased people were to see me, and how much has changed for the better thus far.
A new energy
It was wonderful to re-visit the sites of Leptis Magna and Sabratha - both glorious Roman ruins that hug the coastline not far from Tripoli in either direction. I was lucky to have a warm sunny day for both visits and wandering amongst these magnificent ruins carpeted in Spring flowers, it really felt as if nothing had changed. Amazingly there has been no war damage to these sites and chatting to the local guides, I heard stories of how the local communities rallied around to protect them, welding shut the museum doors and hiding some of the most precious statues and artefacts in their homes. I swam in the sea and returned to explore the capital of Tripoli where restaurants were open, new hotels are being built, the airport arrivals terminal is new and gleaming and airport and immigration staff were friendly and helpful. Tripoli is buzzing with a new energy after so many years of oppression and the previous national flag of red black and green fluttered from every rooftop. Libya is such a beautiful country with so much to offer and the overriding impression I have is one of huge hope and optimism for the future, and I honestly don't think it'll be too long before it's ready to visit again.
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