Horse Racing, Birthdays and Border Crossings

Tripoli Travel Blog

 › entry 12 of 94 › view all entries
Oh the joys of red tape…. When I was in New Zealand, I was advised that if I used my European passport I would not and definitely could not enter into Libya or else I would either have the choice of a Libyan prison or execution. Since both options were so tempting, I couldn’t decide on which one to pick, I decided to enter in on my New Zealand passport. So now I’m sitting here on the Libyan-Tunisian side and if I had of used my Dutch passport I could have entered no problem, but New Zealand passport holders are problematic. Clearly my passport photo has preceded me and provoked terror at the Tunisian border control.

So here I am sitting in the van, watching the minutes on my Colonel Giddafi watch tick away while desperately in need of a toilet, but after having visited the one on the border, twice and walking away both times after dry-reaching, I have decided against it.

Whilst traveling around Libya, I have been lucky enough to visit the sites of Apollonia, Cyrene and Leptis Magna. If I had to chose my favourite site, I think it would have to be Leptis Magna, no Cyrene, no Apollonia, no Cyrene, no Leptis Magna …. arrgghh I can’t decide as all of the sites had their own impressive areas, but if I had to choose the most memorable one it would have to be Leptis Magna and it’s Hippodrome. The reason; I believed that I was a horse, but clearly I’m not.

The Hippodrome was where chariot racing took place in Roman times - the track in Leptis Magna is 400 metres and I thought, this is obviously where it started to go wrong, it would be a fun event to try and race around this track in the hot sun with my Roman sandals on. While my fellow travellers watched from the hill, I began to jog (which was a feat in itself as the track was completely covered in sand and other debris). I was as running around the track, as graceful as a gazelle, I forgot to lift my feet and face planted into the sand. There are two videos of the event and even after watching it several times, I am impressed at how I still manage to get up and continue running. I’m not entirely sure what I was thinking; perhaps I hoped no one had witnessed it but the laughter from the hill confirmed they had.
With my pride wounded, we left Leptis Magna and I have a newfound respect for how hard it would have been to compete in the Hippodrome with the crowds cheering and the dust flying.

Tripoli, the capital of Libya, was a wonderful place to visit and I wished I had longer to explore this cosmopolitan city. Tripoli is situated on the Mediterranean Sea and has a mixture of Arab, African, Ottoman and Italian architecture and influence. The local population was welcoming and the souk was a surreal market to shop at. Compared to other Middle Eastern shopping experiences, the Old City Median was a quiet place to just look around and wander. Also Tripoli was a beautiful city to celebrate my birthday in, and what a celebration - we drunk alcohol in Libya, a country where it is illegal to get any alcohol. The wine came from Tunisia and it was a full-bodied red wine, which went very well with over iced and over decorated birthday cake. Thanks to my traveling companions, I ended up having a lovely evening.

So now I am sitting still in transit, having entered the Diplomatic Entry section, I am still waiting. I haven’t eaten my lunch - I’m down to my final tin of tuna and a bread roll I took from the hotel this morning. But desperation may mean another attempt at visiting the aromatic and visually colourful bathroom, I live in hope my visa turns up soon. It has been nearly three hours of fun. I’m a little over it now, so come on border control, let me eat my tuna in Tunisian.

انتظار …..
westwind57 says:
Colonel Ghadaffi watch? Wow, little could you have expected then what would happen soon... That must give a special feeling every time you look at that watch i guess...
Posted on: Feb 05, 2012
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