After I’d seen Ruth off, kindly escorted to the plane by a Spanish lady from the much-maligned Ryanair, I went back into Santander and booked into a swanky hotel on the seafront. I was looking for somewhere quiet to try and catch up with life in the real world, i.e. a place with a good Internet connection, where I could do things like fill in online job applications, get in touch with the Diploma course people to ask for a deferral and other such matters.
Despite costing an arm and a leg, the posh hotel had a particularly dire Internet connection, and furthermore, I didn’t like the place much. The staff were quite supercilious, as is often the way when you travel alone, I’ve found. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t really know what to do with myself. I’ve found it very hard to concentrate on anything other than the immediate future. For some strange reason, deciding what to have for lunch has taken on greater importance than how I’m going to survive after the three-month notice period finishes and my salary stops being paid. The thought of going through job interviews is just too galling to contemplate, but I need to get my head in the right place, and start looking.
It’s been quite illuminating to follow the news about Libya here in Spain. Of course, although I haven’t mentioned it, during the time that my mother and I were flitting about northern Spain, the UN finally decided to support a ‘no-fly’ zone over Libya, and the desperate situation of government troops at the gates of Benghazi was alleviated somewhat. I don’t like either David Cameron or Nicolas Sarkozy, but I applauded their persistence in pushing this through. In the meantime, a lot of what I’ve heard via TV commentary and read in the newspapers, has been truly fascinating. Gaddafi was very clever, playing on Western paranoia, by insisting from the very first that Al Qaeda were responsible for the protests and rebellion in the east of the country. There’s nothing that scares us more than the mention of Al Qaeda, after all. Reluctance to supply the ‘rebel forces’ with weapons with which to combat government troops is blamed on fears that arms will fall into the hands of terrorists operating in eastern Libya and masquerading as ‘freedom fighters’.
The power of words is truly frightening. ‘Rebel forces’ and ‘rebel troops’ are frequently referred to in Spanish newspapers, and yet we are talking about ordinary people, young, middle-aged and old, who decided to seize the opportunity to ask for a change of government, while the eyes of the world were focussed on protests in neighbouring countries. They are not soldiers, but desperate civilians who have had to resort to fighting with whatever pitiful means they have to hand, because they know very well what will await them if they give up now, and so does anybody else who has ever lived in Libya, and experienced at first hand the ‘system’ that operates there. Al Qaeda does not have a power base in Libya. In this respect, Gaddafi and 99% of the Libyan people are in agreement – they are not radical Muslims. It is most unfortunate that Libya is such an unknown quantity for the outside world after its many years of isolation, and that Libyans in general are automatically associated with all of the evil acts of terrorism perpetrated by the people in power there. My thoughts continue to be with my friends in Al Beida, and all the other poor folk struggling to survive this dreadful war.