Those of you who follow this blog regularly will notice I’m not one to complain too much about Libya. It has its faults and some of them are major, however, I prefer to look at the good things and make the most of them instead of complaining about everything.
There is one exception to this rule of mine. It is with regards to the driving here. I’ve already written a post about this topic before but I had an experience two days agp which infuriated me and for once I was seriously concerned for my safety.
Yesterday, I had some visitors (for work) from abroad and decided to take them into town for a meal and shisha (as one of them mentioned he wanted to try it). So we went to Saraya, next to Green Square. It was a good evening of general banter, chatting and shisha. After this we would head to my compound to watch the Champions League.
We walk out and I get us a taxi. The driver knows where we want to go. Result! We get in and the first thing he does is start playing some really good 80’s metal and tell us how much he loves it, while intermittently singing along. I started laughing thinking we got ourselves one of the many interesting characters that drive taxi’s.
He started taking a road I didn’t recognize, but thought “he knows a shortcut, so don’t worry”. However he suddenly stops the car and tells us he need to do something quickly and disappears into a doorway across the road. He comes back with a glass and a jacket and laughs saying “Very cold!”.
He started driving again and then opens a bottle of water. As soon as he opened the water, I could smell alcohol. Uh oh. The bottle of water was actually a locally distilled drink called Borra (remember alcohol is completely forbidden in Libya). He then pours some in the glass for himself and has gulp of it. Now I was very worried. We were in a death panda (taxi) with a semi drunk driver.
The man was actually not driving like a lunatic, but I felt really uncomfortable being in a car with someone drinking. As we were approaching a road close to where I live, there was a police roadblock and upon seeing this, the driver did sudden u-turn and told he knew a better way to get to my place. At this point I just told him to drop us there and we would find our way home. I really just wanted to get out of this drunkards car. My housemate, who has a car, came out and pick us up from where the taxi had left us.
The only reason I mention this story is to display the complete disregard to road safety that many Libyans have. Interestingly enough I read a World Health Organisation report (click here for report) putting Libya at number 3 in the world in relation to deaths on the road and that definitely did not surprise me. Every single expat I’ve spoken to will usually always mention the insanity of the driving and I have some colleagues who have gone through some traumatic experiences due to the complete disregard of road rules, driving etiquette and reckless approach to driving in this country.
The thing that really grates my nerves about the subject is the attitude of many Libyan men with respect to this issue. One of my colleagues was once asked by one of his Libyan colleagues if there was anything in Libya he didn’t like and the first thing he said was “The driving is sh$t”. The Libyan colleague looked at him and said he didn’t agree and then with a completely straight face said that he thought Libyans were the best drivers in the world. With statistics proving otherwise a lot needs to change before driving conditions improve in this country.
What was the worst thing about the night? My club lost in the Champions League as well.
There rant over. Back to rose tinted view now!