As I write this post, allied fighter jets are scattered over Libyan skies enforcing the UN backed no-fly zone. This has basically confirmed that it’s very unlikely that I will be returning to Libya anytime soon or ever. Knowing this breaks my heart. Libya is not the easiest place that I’ve had to adapt to and in the end I did fall in love with the country and (some of) its people. It was massive learning experience professionally and personally, but needless to say that when I would eventually leave Libya, I would do so a wiser, more experienced professional and person. I had written about my first year in Libya only a month before the problems started and what I wrote in that post is still very valid.I am truly sad not be able to return to Libya, sad for many reasons. There was so much of Libya I did not see, I practically saw a lot in the west of the country, but the East was and is unknown to me. My dear friend Abdul, was always insistent we should take a few days off and pack our back packs and tents and visit the East. I never got to visit Waw Al Namus right in the centre of the country.
I am sad I didn’t get to say good bye to Abdul. I was introduced to Abdul soon after arriving in the office and was told he used to be a guide at Leptis Magna. I went up to him one day and asked him about a trip I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. He was surprised as up until that point, no-one had asked him about this place in Libya or ever said they wanted to go camping. He told me he liked to do things like this and if I didn’t mind he would join me. That was the start of our friendship. It was based on our love for exploring. Since that day we were constantly planning and organizing trips in Libya. Together we planned and organized trips to the Ubari Lakes in the Sahara; Camping on a beach next to an ancient Roman villa; Trips to the Roman city of Leptis Magna; Trips to the magical Berber town of Ghadames; Overnight stays in the troglodyte houses of the Jebel Nafusa and three days of camping in the Acacus mountains. I truly hope that one day I can repay him by bringing him to see South Africa.
I am sad I didn’t get to say good bye to my friends I worked with. A year and a couple of months ago they were strangers to me. After all this time, we were all part of family. This is especially true for most of the people on my compound. We watched and played football together. We joked and pulled pranks on each other. Any time we were fed up, there was someone you could chat to and smoke a shisha with. I’m sad I didn’t get say goodbye to them, though I’m lucky we still chat via Facebook etc. This is one of the best things from my stay in Libya, was making friends with all these people I worked with.
There are so many things that I already miss from Libya, but there’s no point on dwelling on this. I always said that I would be surprised if my Libyan experience was as good as my Abu Dhabi one… Well, I’m pleasantly surprised that the experience was fantastic on almost every level and I’m grateful for it!
So all I can say is Thank You Libya or Shukran Libya and hopefully one day I’ll be able to return.