Colonel Gaddafi's Libya (and Tunisia and Algeria) in 1976.

In April 1976 we went on a standard package tour to Hammamet in Tunisia, but to make it more interesting we got a shared taxi to Tripoli in Libya and a train to Annaba in Algeria.

In Tunisia -

Nabeul livestock market

As well as doing tourist things in Hammamet, like riding a camel and visiting the wadi, we visited the nearby Nabeul livestock market .....


Nabeul vegetable market
..... and the adjacent vegetable market.
Tunis mosque
We got the local train from Bir Bou Rekba station to Tunis a couple of times where we looked around the Kasbah ....
Tunis souks
..... and the souks. This is how to engrave a mortar and pestle.
Sidi Bou Said procession
From Tunis we visited Carthage Roman ruins and Sidi Bou Said where we saw the Independence day procession .....
Vice President Nelson Rockefeller

..... and visiting US Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller, apparently with much less security than he would travel with today.


Kairouan grand mosque

We went on an excursion to Kairouan to see the great mosque, one of the oldest mosques in the world; founded in the 7th century and rebuilt to its present style in the 9th century.

Kairouan workshop
We also wandered round the back streets and found a man winding wool in a little workshop.
Tozeur zoo
We did the 'oasis and Beduin excursion' to Gafsa, Tozeur and Nefta, staying overnight in Tozeur and visiting the desert zoo where we stoked the lion cubs.
Sbeitla Roman ruins
And visited the Roman ruins at Sbeitla.



To Libya -

Tripoli Bab el Mushia
I got a shared taxi from Tunis to Tripoli in Libya. Apart from stopping for the driver to buy a freshly-slaughtered goat, which he put in a cardboard box and loaded into the boot of the car, the journey was uneventful. I wandered around Tripoli and found horses and carriages at Bab El Mushia at the entrance to the souk. I tried to talk to some expats I met but they didn't want to talk and appeared to think we were being watched.
Tripoli pillars at the docks
Two pillars mark the entrance to the docks.
Tripoli promenade
In a shop I found a faded old postcard of a pleasant seafront promenade, with small boats bobbing about on the blue sea beyond. When I went to find it, the promenade was still there but the sea had been in-filled by docks and container depots. Soon afterwards a police car came up and I was arrested for taking photos of the docks. They took me to a police station where I was intereviewed by a succession of people who couldn't speak English until I was finally taken to the top man, a charming slim, military gentleman who spoke perfect English and after asking a few questions he wished me a pleasant stay and let me go. The only problem was I was miles outside the city and had to walk a long way back, but I thought it best not to ask them for a lift.
Tripoli old souks
Back in the city I looked around the old souks.
Tripoli large cart
And saw a large cart pulled by a small donkey.
Tripoli road safety

In Tripoli, no signs at all were in English (not even hotel signs, which made it difficult to find anywhere to stay), except for this road safety sign by the Serai (Safety is free, Accidents are expensive), which had been rather ineffectually painted over.


I got the shared taxi back to the border, but I didn't know that Gaddafi had just decided to expel all the Tunisian workers and the border was like a refugee camp. There were tents, cooking fires and hundreds of people milling around. The desk in the immigration office was piled high with literally thousands of little green Tunisian passports while the Libyan officials strolled up and down ignoring them. I thought I would be stuck there for days. I put my big, blue old-style British passport on the top of the pile and it happened to attract the curiosity of one of the Libyan officials who picked it up and took it away. I felt guilty to have jumped the queue but all the Tunisians congratulated me and while I was waiting outside, still expecting a long delay, suddenly they called me back in because I had been given the exit stamp, and they congratulated me again!


To Algeria -

Annaba

We got the train from Tunis to Annaba in Algeria one morning, but half-way there it was delayed for hours and arrived after dark, when all the hotels were closed up tight except the Plaza which was completely full. Eventually they let us sleep in chairs in the lobby at the Plaza and in the morning the hotel manager took us to the roof to see the view of the town. Soon after it got light we had to go to the station to get the train back to Tunis, so that is all we saw of Algeria.




To see pictures from our other travels, please click here ...... Globe