Of Death Panda’s, Diplomatic Tussles, Mutliple Hearts and Business Opportunities

Well it seems like those nasty Swiss have decided to annoy Voldemort by putting him and some family members on a black list of people not allowed to enter Switzerland. Result? Schengen Area nationals are not being issued Libyan visas. These little diplomatic tussles usually don’t affect me in any way, but for once I need to be attentive of the situation. Why you may ask? Well every time you leave Libya you and come back, you need an entry visa. So if I had to travel soon, I wouldn’t be able to come back as I wouldn’t be issued a VISA. Living in this country certainly isn’t boring!

Death Panda in Action

On another note, the reputation of Libya’s bad driving seems to precede itself. Why? While I was reading my Libya Lonely Planet, the author mentioned death pandas. I wasn’t reading very attentively and that suddenly caught my attention as I could think of no better way to spend a weekend than to see a panda death fight! But I read on only to find out that the author was referring to Tripoli’s taxi which are painted in black and white. Having travelled by taxi here, I fully endorse the death panda tag as it is probably the most accurate description of the vehicle!

This week was also international rub-your-relationship-in-a-single-persons-face day. I’m not one those people who hate Valentine’s day but have to be honest I was quite pleased to be in a country where it doesn’t seem so prevalent to celebrate it. Though when I got home I noticed for the first time since arriving that the shower curtain and curtain in the bathroom has little hearts imprinted all over it! So this it might not have been couples annoying me but the incestuous relationship of the shower curtain and window curtain.

And on the subject of Valentine’s day! I was reminded of my trip to Oman exactly a year ago. It was my last night in Muscat and I hadn’t had a shisha since arriving there 3 days earlier so was looking for a fix. I asked a taxi driver to take me to shisha place anywhere and he said he knew ‘a nice place’. I arrive at what looked like a very posh restaurant in shorts, flip flops, economist and IPod in hand. Didn’t think I’d be allowed in, but no one objected to my entry so I found a small table and sat down. I immediately noticed that most of the clientele seemed to be couples whispering sweet nothings into each other’s ears over the sound of Enrique Iglesias waffling on about being someone’s hero. I found it odd, but just continued read my magazine, listen to my own music and smoke my shisha. Then suddenly I saw a man come in selling roses and it dawned on me: I was dining on my own in a restaurant full of couples on Valentine’s Day. I kept my chin up and in defiance of my single status, blew shisha smoke towards the closest couples table and continued to read and smoke my shisha. That was actually quite a fun trip even with this episode and all.

42 days in Libya now. I really like the quirkiness of this country.

A couple of days ago I went to one of the local shops to buy some food. The guy who works there is a Somali and once he found out I was South African, he loves having chats with me in Arabic about what he’s heard about South Africa (It’s amazing how much hand gestures can be a reasonable replacement for languages). So he was telling me, that many Somali’s have businesses in SA and that he wants to go there as well and open a little shop. So I told him, he should go, he then looks at me saying he doesn’t have the money to. His eyes suddenly widen and he says me and him should be business partners! I laugh and tell him that I’m not a businessman and I would lose all the money, to which he cleverly replies, I shouldn’t worry as he will run the business I should just provide the start up money (I guess he wants a silent partner then). I burst out laughing due to the cheekiness of it. He just smiled and indicated that I should think about it!

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