I am here, in Tripoli after about 30 years, my first impression was of a stinky disgusting poo but more about that later.... Actually so far I am liking it here even though it has been less than a day since I arrived.
I started my trip early yesterday morning with my 9 year old son Amir, we arrived nice and early at Gatwick airport, we got there at 09:15 just before the check in desk opens but I was shocked to find a queue of at least 100 African people standing there with a colossal amount of luggage, I booked with Afriqiya airways who clearly detailed their luggage allowance of 2 suit cases per passanger at a total of 48 KG each which is quite generous compared to most airlines yet most of the African passangers obviously did not pay any attention to this and brought everything but the kitchen sink! I knew we were in for a long wait, each family in front of us had way over their allowance, many of them had to buy new suit cases at the airport and transfer stuff between cases or had to pay for extra weight, this caused a lot of delay, eventually after I checked in and borded the plane, it was choas, I have never seen anything like it before. the AirBus 330 was full, there was only about 3 Libyan families, the rest were all Africans on transit to Tripoli to catch planes to their respective countries, the problem was that many of them thought they were on a public bus and just sat any and everywhere, the Libya flight crew were overwhelmed and trying very hard to get them into their booked seats, after a struggle we managed to get to our seats just to find a boy sitting in Amir's seat and a bag on my seat, a woman was standing there, I asked her politely to move her boy and the bag, she said in a minute and just stood there, I asked again she shouted at me to leave her alone, I lost it and told her to blah blah blah her bag and boy or else, she was out of there like a flash, some people can only be dealt with that way!
One and a half hours later we were still on the plane, passangers and crew shouting at eachother, when we eventually took off we were nearly 4 hours late and I was not impressed with my trip of a life time, the plane was great and brand new, each seat had a touch screen TV with great entertainment but all this was marred by the behaviour of some of the passangers, even dirty baby nappies were changed on food trays in front of their mums, the smell was out of this world.
I saw Tripoli from the sky and it was just beautiful, lots of sand and some green areas too, I was home. After we landed, we got on the coach that transfered us to the terminal, as we reached it I saw my younger brother standing outside, he saw us and waved, we got off the coach and it was all hugs and tears, inside the terminal my 2 other brothers were there with my nephews (hugs and tears take 2) now back to the poo story, as I was waiting for my bags I needed to use the toilet, I asked my brother and he poited it to me but advised me not to use it and wait until we get home No I insisted and walked in, grubby not nice then I went inside the only cubicle that was free which had a floor toilet seat, I have never used any of them before but the shock came when I looked inside, a HUGE DISGUSTING SMELLY POO was staring at me, I was in shock I nearly fainted and ran out of the toilet, my brother saw it on my face and laughed and told me that he tried to warn me! that was not a good first impression not for me and not for any new visitor to Libya just getting off the plane, a simple service that is necessary and very easy to be provided hyginically without going to too much trouble, to think that some people say that people in the west are dirty, well there is the answer for them at Tripoli's Airport.
My bags arrived quickly and we were out on our way to my mother's house, crazy driving but I liked the wide roads and the chaotic atmosphere. I couldnt recognise a thing then my brother said that we arrived in our street, everything looked new to me, the street in Hai Alandalus was lined with trees and looked very pretty, I got out of the car to the sound of ulilation (zaghareet) from my mum and sisters in-law, my neices had confetti and flower petals and were throwing them on us (hugs and tears take 3) my poor mother got all blurry eyed after huging me and started huging one of her little grand daughters and saying to her hello Amir I missed you so much and showered her with kisses, the poor little girl told her that she was Asmaa not Amir, it was so funny we all laughed, they let me walk into the house on my own then they all followed me, I walked straight into my old bedroom which has been turned into a second sitting room now, pictures of me when I was a child were everywhere, I was like a child walking from one room to the other and into the garden trying to remember things, it was magical, something I have been dreaming about for many years.
After a nice dinner, cakes and tea we sat talking until it was time for my brothers and their families to leave, they were all happy to see us and we had gifts for everyone.
This morning I took Amir out for a short walk, I was worried I might get lost, I recognised the main road but the shops changed, we walked back, an hour later one of my brothers came over and took us for a drive, I didnt expect a lot but what I saw was nice, some very impressive buildings and some vile tasteless buildings too but it was home, I loved it, I will write more about my experience as the days go by and I see more and get more experiences (good ones and bad ones I am sure) need to have a nap now, its boiling hot but I am HAPPY.