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Sahara

Day 85: Tripoli

Sirte to Tripoli, Libya 
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More old ruins at Leptis Magna. Well, I had been filming for three months.
Michael Palin - SaharaOur last day in Libya. From the balcony of a monstrous hotel I look out over the harbour. A ferry is loading, one of six or seven ships in port. It's a hazy, warm day, and the wind that sends the green flags fluttering carries a faint tang of sulphur from the chain of chemical works and refineries that dot the coast. Below me is a green and white-domed mosque, squeezed in by the side of the surging highway that leads towards the skyscrapers of the city. The centre of Tripoli, a wide, open meeting place called Green Square, lies beside the castle, at the place where the old medina and the newer, largely Italian streets meet. The green louvered shutters of the houses remind me of Gibraltar. I still feel frustrated. Abdul, Mohammed and the others have treated us well, but I feel we've also been strong-boxed. It's been hard to meet people beyond the pink coach.

So I'm surprised when a youngish Libyan man approaches me in Green Square. He extends a hand and asks, in good English, what I think of the country. I murmur the usual praise and we shake.

'I won't tell you what I think,' he says bitterly, and is gone.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 85
  • Country/sea: Libya
  • Place: Tripoli
  • Book page no: 226

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