Legends of Tripolitania

Crossing the archway next to Martyrs' Square and entering Tripoli's city centre, one has the feeling that time has stood still and one has stepped into one of Scheherazade's tales, those of the 1001 nights that began like this:

Once upon a time there was a town that had been at war for many, many years, so many that they no longer remembered what peace was like or why they were fighting. Every day, at dusk, the explosions of artillery and the firing of combatants resounded louder and louder, but there was a place inside the walls of the red castle where the fighting never came. Inside, the muezzin's call to prayer always rose above the explosions.

Inside, by the clock tower, the city's black market was concentrated, and dozens of men were tingling in the sun carrying wheelbarrows full of money. In a nearby street you could hear the clatter of goldsmiths' hammers and from there you entered a maze of streets with thousands of stalls, workshops, stalls and shisha dens. The dazzling streets of gold were succeeded by streets of fine gold and further on by streets of cloth sellers with costumes and decorations to suit the most refined tastes.

For in this labyrinth of streets, near the Roman arch of Marcus Aurelius, lived the British consul Hanmer Warrington and his daughter Emma a long time ago. It was during the time of the great explorations when camel caravans set off from the medina to the south in search of Timbuktu, the pearl of the desert. It is the story of a mad, true, passionate and sad love. Poor Emma fell madly in love with one of those adventurers, Gordon Laig, who trapped her in his dream world. They married the same man who left for the desert in search of glory and never came back, who was killed on leaving Timbuktu, but she never gave up hope that one day he would return and always waited for him.

Legend has it that on bright moonlit nights, her disconsolate cries can still be heard throughout the medina.

Anyway, I have written this nonsense because we are in the fifth week of quarantine and since the first day I am looking forward to return to Tripoli.

The Spoon
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