(A three part series on visit to Tripoli and Leptis Magna in Nov 2011 a few days after liberation of Libya.)
Getting to Tripoli from Benghazi in the immediate aftermath of the liberation was a onerous task.By road was out of question as it passed through Sirte and there were tens of checkpoints all along the way.My friend and I had some urgent work so we decided to take the aerial route.Normalcy was still being restored and the flight timings were erratic.Lots of people who had taken refuge in the city of Benghazi during the revolution were returning back to their homes and the flights were full.Still after a six hour wait at the ticket counter at the airport we managed a ticket to Tripoli.
Landing in Tripoli at night we were roundly fleeced by a non regular taxi .On a co-passenger’s advice we checked into hotel Gesar Libya near the medina.The hotel had seen better days but now was going to seed.Still for 30 dinars and the location it was a pretty good good deal.
The next day after finishing up our work and a futile trip to the Indian embassy which was closed we wandered about town.Armed militia(thwars) with their klashnikovs were in charge of the city security.They had taken up lodgings in the many city hotels including ours.After the initial apprehensions we were walking about normally, even at night.In fact in most places it was business as usual .
We strolled through the now famous Green square (renamed Martyr’s square) .The site of many Gaddafi speeches, this was the among the first places captured by the revolutionaries and the images beamed worldwide announcing the fall of Gaddafi .Now it was peaceful with many young couples soaking in the autumn sun.The adjoining Omar Mukhtar road was bustling with the sale of flags,caps,key-chains,bags, in the revolutionary colors .One notable sight was the many newspapers which had mushroomed overnight . In the Gaddafi era there was hardly any press.Now suddenly the dam had burst and Libyans were on a writing spree.
(to be continued in the next post.)