Euromoney’s recent British Airways flight to Tripoli to research our feature on the Libyan Investment Authority (Libya vs Goldman – The secret memo) is cancelled for “operational reasons”.
This is a somewhat elastic term that in this case turns out to mean “someone fired two missiles into the runway last week”. We take a circuitous route via Tunis instead.
Then, when it is time to leave, the hotel’s Hertz transfer service refuses to attempt the drive, and when Euromoney heads off in a taxi instead, it quickly becomes clear why.
Militias have blocked the airport road overnight, sometimes with bricks and sometimes with pro-Gaddafi slogans on banners slung across oil drums, and in one case with fortified barricades; a family of four are trying to dig out an earth embankment with their hands in order to create a navigable path to get their car over.
Eschewing such a strategy, Euromoney’s driver takes to a pitted dirt road, bouncing along among half-built houses and the shattered wreckage of cars illuminated by a massive dust-frayed sunrise.
The driver repeats, like an incantation: “Fucking Gaddafi! Fucking Gaddafi!” The roadblocks, he says, have been built by people still loyal to the former dictator years after his undignified death.
No matter: Libyan Arab Airlines, a carrier for which no travel agent in Europe appears to be able to issue a ticket, is running an hour late anyway as a matter of unremarked routine.
Upon landing, Euromoney learns that during the time we have been in the air the entire Libyan government has resigned.