A traveller’s tale from Libya

Recent guests of Los Castanos, whose visit was marred by concerns for their friends lost in Libya, sent this report which they have given me permission to reproduce here:

It now all seems a distant but lovely memory of our stay at your fabulous hotel! I had a fantastic break and will continue to rave about what you offer.

Our friends in Libya have a very interesting tale to tell……

When they were still in the desert the local guides who were with the group basically stated that they felt that they could no longer guarantee the safety of the group so they went on to a town where there was a hotel booked for them. Upon arrival the hotel would not open it’s gates! Thankfully their Libyan guide (they also had 2 drivers and a policeman traveling with them – all groups have to have this police escort) got talking to some locals and they arranged for a local family to move out of their apartment so that the group could sleep there! They said that all the people they met were very generous and warm – Lisa did point out that as a woman she did have to know her place!

They managed to get to Tripoli and were staying just a street or two away from the main square so all were instructed to stay indoors and listen to the gun fire.

One of the group was American and her cell phone still worked so she phoned her family who contacted the US Foreign Office – she was instructed to go to the Port as the US had chartered a ferry (not allowed to fly into Libya) – the rest of the Brits had real trouble getting in touch with the British Embassy so decided to take their chances of there being room on the ferry which the US staff (upon arrival at the Port) agreed to. One poor Irish girl who had an onward ticket with Air Italia decided to go to the airport – however Air Italia refused to fly her out as they were instructed to only fly out Italians! By all accounts she had a really horrific experience as she waited for a British plane to take her out. No toilets or food and gunmen firing tear gas and bullets into the buildings/waiting areas.

Meanwhile down at the dockside David and Lisa were being fed, watered and playing cards! Lisa said that they were looked after really well.

Their Libyan guide came back a few times after they arrived at the Port (he was not allowed in and the group had their passports stamped so effectively were on US territory and not Libyan) just to check that they were all OK. This chap who was about 25 to 30 waited until he knew the group had sailed and then was making plans to get back to his family. I think that Lisa is in touch with him so it will be interesting to hear if they have heard from him in recent days.

They said that the trip was fantastic and the scenery in the desert was spectacular and would certainly go back! Hopefully this will be something that can happen but the news of this no-fly zone ruling today makes me fear for any stability there for quite some time.

A silly fact – petrol was 9p/litre!

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