My stay here in Libya is being defined by one thing. Time. I have lost the concept of time. I vaguely remember days are separated by nights. I know the constant drone of work is being separated by something called a weekend. Friday it’s called here. This so-called weekend is either spent indoors sleeping and cleaning or outdoors in a desert, on a beach, in a cave… I’ve lost track of what I have done. I know I’ve travelled to the Emirates, but this feels like a distant memory already.
Ok, I might be exaggerating a tad, though, I have lost track of time as I’ve stated a few times on this blog already. Days just kind of blur into weeks and months and before I know it, I’ve been here almost four months. But the blur of time here has some sharp images that stick out, one of these being taxi’s.
My friends in Abu Dhabi will remember the repetition of my taxi stories. It’s a running joke now between us. Seeing as taxi-taking is becoming the modus operandi here, I’m accumulating some funny and interesting ones here, some of which I’ve shared on this blog already. Today I will share two more.
The first one I want to share, happened a couple of weeks ago. I had gone into Tripoli to meet some people for a shisha. When the time came to go back home, I hailed a taxi. The driver immediately assumed I was foreign because he immediately started speaking good English. This was the first taxi driver in my couple of months here who spoke good English. To say I was surprised is an understatement. Anyway as he drove me home, he started a political discussion on Voldemort which I wasn’t keen on joining, being a foreigner and all. This guy was highly critical of he who must not be named on almost every issue, but one which issue which he stressed on was the inward migration of other Africans from west Africa etc.
He claims that before this migration Libya was safe and didn’t have any problems with crime etc. He then goes on to blame the Egyptian and Nigerian migrants for this. But what struck me as odd, was that he wasn’t the first Libyan I’ve spoken to be wary of Nigerians. There seems to be a lot of resentment towards Nigerians in this country. But what’s odd is that Nigerians seem get a lot of flack everywhere. South Africans tend to be wary of Nigerians. In the UK I’ve noticed the same tendency. So was interesting and slightly disturbing to see what imagine Libyans have of Nigerians. It did make for an interesting and rather different taxi ride.
The second story I’m going to share, happened yesterday night when coming back home from Tripoli. I hailed a taxi and a taxi stopped. I got in and the driver seemed to speak some English. We negotiated price and off we went. So while he is driving, he puts in a tape in the radio. What is it? I was expecting some more Modern Talking but no, he was a Michael Jackson Fan. Not too bad, I thought to myself. First song on the playlist. Beat it. Good song. I like it. Then the chorus starts playing and the driver who now seems oblivious to my existence, starts so sing along to the chorus with sassiness and attitude. It was hilarious! I wanted to burst out laughing but obviously I couldn’t. I just sat there looking out of the window, pretending I was enjoying the view. We got to the end of the song and I breathed a sigh of relief thinking I wouldn’t have to sit through that again. I was wrong. The tape seemed entirely made up of the song Beat it. I sat through fifteen minutes of the taxi driver’s renditions of Beat it.
Never a dull moment with Libyan taxi drivers.