Ten days or so in Benghazi, another ten in Tripoli. That was the plan. And I did have a plan; I didn’t just up and decide to go to Libya, that would be ridiculous. A friend invited me, Joe, one of my older brother’s compatriots from years back, when they were teenagers and I was just a little tyke.
I had some concerns about security; back then my interactions with Joe often involved having my head stuffed into a toilet. But we’d seen each other a few times since then, and we’re about evenly matched now, so I figured I’d be okay. (No hard feelings – he and my brother always offered a courtesy flush.) We exchanged a few emails over the summer. His company has been active in Libya since shortly after the revolution, helping develop local industry as the country was getting back on its feet. They had a rented villa in Benghazi — plenty of space, he said. Come on over.
I figured it would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a part of the world not many Americans get a chance to experience, barely a year after a historic revolution. Maybe I’d get a few stories out of it, I thought, and a few useful contacts, and I knew I’d learn a lot. Plus, I’d get to have a birthday in Benghazi, which sounds like the title of a Dead Kennedys song, so that about settled it.
I finalized my plans exactly one day before news broke about the attack on U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed — note the parallels — in a Benghazi villa, not too far, actually, from where I was staying. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t second thoughts. But pretty soon my plane tickets were booked and there was no backing out. Besides, you can’t believe what you see on TV. Reporters are always worked up about something or other. It probably wasn’t as bad as all that. I’d be fine. Right?
Yes, I would, it was fine. It was great, actually. Here are a few photos from the trip: