Thursday, January 5, 2012

Day 97: Taste of Freedom

Now literally on the shores of Tripoli... rainy shores with flooding in the streets... and a few minutes on the computer of the underused library of the sole remaining Catholic church in Libya.

The weather for weeks has been pleasantly in the upper teens (60F) but for the last few days downpours. I plod on, of course. People continue to be kind - finally recognized as an athlete, they drive by slowly to hand me a bottle of water, a banana, a juicebox, a Snickers bar out the window, coffee with too much sugar, when it's been particularly wet, and a hot sandwich or two... really terrific. The beach has become too interupted with industry to walk along for the final approach to the capital city, but the typical urban unpleasantness is spiced up here with colorful graffiti capturing the new found freedom of expression.

The graffiti alone is an expression, but that some of it is written in English - Libya Tastes Freedom! - and some in the heretofore oppressed Berber language with an amalgam of Greek and Cyrillic letters with what look more like Phoenician characters, is a secondary reality of the moment. It's no longer forbidden. There's a sense of law and order; I've not seen anyone with sidearms or other weaponry except for the clearly marked citizen patrols, their outfits looking more like the pages of a Cabela's catalog than Soldiers of Fortune. The citizen patrols are patriotic, dutiful, and accepted as an interim solution - so many of them told me (always offering me a chair for a rest, some cigarettes (don't smoke, thanks), and some food) - a dentist in real life, an office worker, an accountant, a mechanic... One fellow told me that the remaining outbursts are only the result of alcohol being now more widely available to people unaccustomed to it. Frat-boy behavior.

I still see fragments of the Roman road lacing together time and distance... onward and eastward...


Amy R said...


Glad to hear people are happy.

It would be so cool to see you in the midst of your journey - online, somehow or another.

Sheila Phelan Wright said...

Love that freedom is speaking in many languages in Libya and that you are bearing witness. Also love that Snickers are favorites. I have never been so committed to someone else's vicarious journey
Take care.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year and thanks for great reportage of happy are almost there!

Seonghwan said...

Happy New Year!! How is your pilgrimage going? I will pray for you

Seonghwan Kim from Tunisia