Today, my Dad remembers a visit to Tripoli in Libya.
When I first joined Ocean we set sail and had about 10 days continuous flying and then the ship’s tannoy announced that we were to visit Tripoli in Libya. So that the ship remained manned we were allowed ashore in two watches. Our watch would go on the first day and the other on the second day.
Libyan currency would be exchanged for sterling before we reached port. Libyan currency was actually British Military currency as Libya was under British Military rule.
As we approached the African coast to enter the long channel that led up to the harbour it was amazing to see and to negotiate between the scores of sunken German and Italian ships sunk on each side of the channel relics of the North African desert war.
Tripoli was nothing to write home about. The people were poor. There were lots of beggars on the streets. Buildings had been bombed and fought over and were derelict.
The only things that seemed to be for sale were handmade camel leather purses.
Muslim country – no alcohol.
We had been warned before we left that ship not to wander into the native quarter and to keep a keen eye out for pick-pockets. Sailors wore a belt that had a small pouch to hold your money.
Before ever we had reached Tripoli we had been vaccinated for smallpox on board ship as Tripoli was rife with it.
Ashore we were inundated with flies as big as bluebottles and pestered by the locals to buy leather goods, dates, fruit etc.
Even now I can remember the ordinary Libyans who approached us for money/cigarettes, dressed in rags with clusters of flies crawling around eyes, ears, mose and mouths. I thought no wonder there is smallpox and what other unhygienic diseases must there be? It was good to get back to the ship.
Tripoli was my first port to be visited after Malta. Fortunately future visits to other ports were a pleasanter experience.
The ship sailed and the daily flying routine continued.