Reflections on Revolution – A photographer’s travels through the Arab tumult


“May you live in interesting times” is a proverb with an unattributed origin. Most speculate the phrase came from China, some assume its origins to be of 20th century English design, but all agree that the phrase is a curse. We no doubt live in “interesting” times. 2011 has already brought revolution, quakes, tsunamis, government shutdowns, and an escaped cobra. Interesting is not always a good thing, but it can be.

With this video, photographer John Moore provides a glimpse into the hectic travel schedule of a front-line photojournalist during the Arab revolution of 2011. His photographs and stories from the Middle-east will leave an impression on you, and this video is interesting in a good way. From Egypt to Bahrain to Libya, the video showcases the revolution from one photographer’s view behind the lens.

Photographer John Moore on ‘Epic’ Libya Battles, Arab World Revolutions from Mike Fritz on Vimeo.

Surviving a revolution, tips from those who have been there

Surviving a revolution

Fox News has an excellent story on surviving a revolution from the front lines. During the best of times, travel is a game of chance. You trust that your airline will get you there, you trust that your hotel will have your reservation and you really trust that you will have some Internet access. Wherever you may travel, all those things we take for granted and have planned for are off the table if a revolution occurs. Here’s what you need to know.

Engineer Scott Wallace recently landed about 75 miles south of Benghazi in eastern Libya. Very quickly the situation turned into a “day of rage” protesting Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi and his regime and revolution-mode was the order of the day.

“The whole regime was very effective in shutting down cell phone access, Internet coverage, and data services,” Wallace told Fox News, noting that he has been in many overseas destinations “where connectivity was limited, but when you have a government that is actively trying to block you,” as the Gaddafi regime was doing from Tripoli, “sending a message becomes a cat and mouse game.”

Wallace found texting was the key to having any kind of communication with the outside world noting there was “always enough of a breakdown in the [regime’s] spam filters,” and while the text “might be delayed by six to twelve hours, it still got through.”

Electronic methods of communication may be the best bet but if everything is cut off, other strategies can work too.

Mike Bowers, senior director of health and safety at People to People Ambassador Programs, urges parents with kids overseas to “make sure you have online access to bank and credit card accounts they’ll be using. Not only can you monitor their spending and budget, but this will give you some clues as to their whereabouts and activities.”

Registering with the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) can help too. Travel security expert Philip Farina suggests registering “could make the difference between your having to stay [in a dangerous situation] and your getting out”

A lot of surviving a revolution is hinged on being prepared too. Keeping your eyes open, being aware of your surroundings, staying off public transportation (big terrorist target) and having cash in case ATM’s and banks lock up without the Internet connection to process transactions is important too.

“I don’t go on a trip anywhere without a flashlight,” adding that it doesn’t have to be a huge one. “If there’s no electricity in your hotel or city you may need a flashlight desperately.”

Farina cautions travelers to remember the revolution is “not about you being a tourist, it is about something else. In some cases tourists can be harmed, in others not, [but] it stands to reason you may need to buy yourself through checkpoints, through neighborhoods, or through a particular zone.”

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Flickr photo by B.R.Q.


Dakar to Paris: Layover in Algiers or Tripoli?

You think that you know things about airlines until you start searching for flights in and out of African. There, the old knowns of KLM and British Airways go out the window and replacements like Afriqiyah Airways and Air Algerie come into play, carriers that many never knew existed.

The current itinerary on which I’m working involves a one way flight between Dakar and Paris, a three thousand mile trip over the Sahara Desert, Mediterranean Ocean and Southern France. With a connection.

Where is that connection you ask? Depends on the airline. Of the above two airlines, one (I’m sure you can guess which) involves a four hour layover in Algeria‘s capital, Algiers, in the Houari Boumediene airport. The other offers a similar stay in Tripoli, the capital of Libya.

The most comedic part of the operation in the the fare codes. Typical local carriers have complex fare codes like QE07A0NA to dictate the rules and routes of a flight. On Afriqiyah Airways? My fare basis (copied above) would be “BLOW.”

Whatever. The real question is whether I should fly through Algiers or Tripoli. Technically it would be interesting to spend a day or two exploring the cities on my layover (if that’s possible,) but North African nations aren’t the most welcome place for Americans — and could I go to a country that bans alcohol? I would have to bring a book or something.

So where would you go?

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Photo of the Day (03/03/08)

If I could only use one adjective to describe this photo, I would say “beautifully vertical.” OK, that’s not exactly one adjective, but close enough. I love the long, slim lines of the men and the buildings. I am guessing the streets are so narrow in order for the building to provide as much shade as possible.

The photo was taken by a Czech travel photographer Daniel Michalek last fall in the center of Tripoli, the capital of Libya…another one of those countries I would love to visit. You can check out his other photos here.

***To have your photo considered for the Gadling Photo of the Day, go over to the Gadling Flickr site and post it.***