Libya is a rubbish dump, with garbage everywhere and people throwing litter out of their cars without a second thought. You can go out into the hills, miles from anywhere and the stench of rotting garbage will greet you.
And then, several weeks ago, the yellow army arrived. Hundreds of illegal migrant workers, wearing bright yellow coveralls and caps have been filling bags and yellow bins with garbage from the side of the road. A temporary base close to my house is filled with garbage trucks and bins, with trucks picking up and dropping off workers.
The road to my office was beginning to look fairly decent, although it was always obvious how far the workers had progressed the previous day. I was actually impressed that the government was taking steps to tidy up the city and make it slightly less of a dump. "Good on 'em", I thought.
Of course, I should have known better. There had to be an ulterior motive and sure enough today I found out about the 3rd Africa-EU Summit / Tripoli, Libya, 29-30 November 2010.
Oh yes, Tripoli is about to host nearly a dozen African presidents, over 100 delegations and assorted self important big men. So things are being tarted up so that as the VIPs are being whisked around from point A to point B, they won't get to see piles of trash. And to further ensure the city is seen as being modern, sleek and fast moving, there'll be a two/three day public holiday. They call it 'holiday' because 'curfew' doesn't give the right impression, but Allah help anyone trying to drive anywhere in the city. Escape will be impossible, as the airport is being closed down. Although they state 'security reasons', it's more likely to be due to the fact that the car park outside the terminal resembles a car breaker's yard.
Still, we all get another short holiday, but in true government fashion, they probably won't release the dates of the curfew, sorry, "official public holiday", until Thursday evening at 9PM on local, arabic speaking media only. Better make sure the fridge is full of wine and food. This could be a long weekend.
What'll happen to all the yellow army when it's all over and where in the desert has all the crap been dumped ? It'll show up on GoogleEarth in a year's time. You can already see the lagoons of waste from drilling if you know where to look. At least the poor migrant workers are getting something out of it all.
Edit: apparently now it's "100 leaders" and rumours are that Obama is coming....