Sitting on the terrace of a cafe with three young locals, we had an enjoyable conversation about everything under the sun. I tried not to go near any political topics to avoid any embarrassing situations in public. But I had a burning desire to ask any related questions as I was surprised that Libya had less control on foreigners than Tunisia.
Once the trust between us was established, one of the guys wondered aloud what the outside world thought of Libya. My answer was simply: the country of Gaddafi. They smiled and indicated to me that the country might seem calm, but in people were suffering from the injustice of the leaders. They mentioned, in particular, the cost of living (which was comparable to Brussels), the excess of influence the Gaddafi anarchy had on the law, the abuse of police power (I witnessed first-hand the poor street vendors along the roads who hid their goods underground, for fear of being robbed by the police). The list was endless. Anyone could easily see a huge gap between the government in power and the people – who had no longer lived in the same reality.
I was amazed by their openness under that kind of political atmosphere, but my amazement withdrew a year later when the revolution broke out....
The Intoxication Of Power
Did you know...
- In 630 BCE, the Greeks established a colony in Eastern Libya and founded the city of Cyrene. In the following years four more major Greek cities were founded. This region became known by a Greek name that means five cities "Pentapolis".
- Most Libyans live in the coastal cities. Most are Arabs or of mixed Arab and Berber ancestry. In western Libya, there are Berber villages, where the locals still talk their language.
- In the cities Western and traditional clothing are seen. Girls wear bright colored dresses, and boys wear jeans and shirts.
- The cuisine of Libya has been influenced by Arabic, Mediterranean and Italian cooking. Lamb, chicken, beef, beans, nuts, dried apricots, figs and unleavened bread are the major components.
- During the final years of Colonel Qadhafi's regime, the full name of Libya was the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
- The "Marines' Hymn" starts with these lines: "From the Halls of Montezuma To the shores of Tripoli" because the US Marines first fight on the shores of Tripoli "First Barbary War".
- Leptis Magna is one of the best preserved sites of Roman ruins in the Mediterranean. This city was the birthplace of the last Roman Emperor from Africa, Septimius Severus.