It’s funny how in one week a lot can change. The last time I wrote I here, I was feeling depressed and not sure whether I made the right decision to come here. A week later I’m looking forward to living in Libya and exploring this hidden gem. It’s taken less time for me to come to this point than it did in London (2 Years it took to get accustomed to the place).
So what’s changed? A couple of things. For one, my attitude. For all my talk about embracing adventures like this, I wasn’t doing that. I think the cushy lifestyle I had in AD made me ‘lazy’ to get used to this place. But I pressed the reset button at the start of the week and made it a new beginning. It worked.
My after-work routine hasn’t changed much. Get home, play some Wii, go online and catch up on emails, watch a movie and sleep. I think I’ve come the understanding that it will take me some time to get know people, make some friends and start doing things after work. But I’ve also taken another approach with regards to my weekends. Instead of staying home and allowing myself time to reminisce about Abu Dhabi and friends, I have started making plans for weekends. Little trips within Libya to explore what this country has to offer. And it has things to offer. You just have to be open to exploring!
I also finally got to see Tripoli this weekend. My housemate and I decided to have dinner in Tripoli centre. I liked the centre, there’s a buzz to the place which I really enjoyed. Wanted to take some photos, but yours truly left the memory stick to my camera at home. But being in the city gave me a sense, for the first time since being here, that I might enjoy living here. So me and my housemate had dinner and headed back home, but I had already decided I would come back the next day, to have a proper walk around and take some photos.
The next day went back to the city centre. I was looking forward to it as Islamic Arab cities are a strange place on Friday. They tend to be deserted and quite eerie.
This is especially true for the souks and I like the desolate feel of a souk on a Friday morning in comparison to the bustling hubs of commerce they tend to be on any other morning. So walking around the old medina with my lonely planet and ipod I explored the almost deserted medina. Some of the interesting things that caught my eye was the strange which had Turkish prison written on it, yet at the same time it had a Greek orthodox church inside. Having walked around for an hour, I reached the Marcus Aurelius Arch at which point it started raining. So I dived into the first cafe I found around the arch. To my surprise, it was a nice little courtyard cafe. So sat down, ordered a shisha and cafe and enjoyed my book for a while until the rain subsided and the sun peaked out of the clouds.
Then left the trail the LP suggested and made my own way around the Medina. Somehow I got to outside the old city wall and followed it until I found another entrance, which I soon did find and then BHAM! Suddenly the solitude and eeriness of the rest of the medina was shattered when I entered what seemed to be an little market area which seemed to be soley for the use of Tripoli’s sub Saharan population (i.e. African). I felt like I was transported from a empty souk in Arabia, to a bustling market in somewhere like Accra!
It was at this point that I realised why I like travelling and not always following given directions. It’s due to these off-script moments that you suddenly find a little surprise. After walking through the African market for about half an hour and being looked at strangely as I was the only white person there, I did decided to explore the other area around green square.
I ended up walking east of Green square and found a Majestic mosque I had seen the day before. This mosque was actually a cathedral which was converted into a mosque. It was a stunning building to look at and really did take my breath away when I saw up close the first time. It was obviously so different to other mosques in the area and that is what made it so stunning. After that amazing sight, I decided that I had enough sightseeing for the day and went to have dinner and yet another shisha.
After dinner found myself a taxi and went home. On the way the taxi driver to himself some water and chocolate J. It’s the first time this had happened to me and found it quite endearing. And then, top off a good weekend, the taxi driver insisted on giving me a chocolate as well. He told me it was cold and that chocolate helps you warm up. I don’t know if this is the case, but accepted his explanation and chocolate.
For the first time since arriving, I felt like I would enjoy this new adventure in my life!
Next week, in my continuing mission of keeping myself busy, I will go camping in the desert by some lakes with some workmates.
Tonito, reporting from Libya, Over and out!