Bourdain’s Field Notes

Libya is a place where there is every likelihood that everywhere you go and with everyone you meet you will be greeted warmly, treated generously, welcomed with a smile or a thumbs up. It is also a place where very bad things happen to nice people—where things can go very, very wrong in a heartbeat.

While we were there, the close associate of one of our interview subjects was kidnapped. In Misrata, a popular elected official was assassinated with a silenced pistol. In Benghazi, the British Embassy was telling its citizens to leave. Generally speaking, highly trained security dudes do not want to even consider taking their idiotic on-camera “talent” charges anywhere near weapons—much less imagine the possibility of their operating one.

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Travel like Bourdain

“It’s nice to see freedom. It’s nice to see the bad guy gone. It’s nice I feel welcomed here.”

Know Before You Go

When his regime came crashing down in 2011, Libya’s transition from dictatorship to democracy promised to be anything but easy. He was no ordinary autocrat, and his idiosyncratic and often brutal experiment in governance hinged on layers of patronage, the manipulation of tribal dynamics and ad hoc edicts that were sometimes reversed abruptly, according to his whims. Nevertheless, in the immediate aftermath of Gadhafi’s overthrow, many Libyans dreamed of their country becoming a new Dubai on the Mediterranean, while others wanted to see it emerge as the Switzerland of North Africa.

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