June 27, 2004

In Ottawa

I'm in Ottawa, Canada, mildly jet-lagged and severely sleep-deprived. I was going to post some photos and commentary, but tonight it ain't happening.

First thing tomorrow (Monday) morning I go to the Libyan embassy to pick up my passport. I had to send it to them along with my visa application. Word has it I won't get the visa right now because all of a sudden they need several more weeks to process the paperwork. Sigh. But who knows? They've told me contradictory things on the phone before. I guess I'll find out for sure soon enough. Either way, I'm going to Libya. I'll go later this week if I'm lucky, or else I'll go in the Fall.

In any case, Shelly and I leave for Italy on Wednesday, and then we're off to Tunisia and the mighty Sahara on Friday. (Should be nice and warm this time of year.) I can't (or won't) blog from Libya, but I can and will from Tunisia.

Too tired for now. More soon...

Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 27, 2004 06:16 PM


As a resident of the used to be great country of Canada,I extend my best wishes for a pleasant stay here.
If you have the chance be sure to engage the locals on the subject of Iraq and the EVIL US intentions.Maybe in Ottawa the usual suspects are not in complete charge but I have my doubts.Should be enlightening if you can fit it into your busy schedule.
Best wishes for a SAFE trip to Tunisia and maybe Libya.

Posted by: dougf at June 27, 2004 06:56 PM

Best wishes for a safe and fun trip all around.

Posted by: Randy Paul at June 27, 2004 07:49 PM

Good luck Michael, and good luck and prayers for you and John© (copyright) from Instapundit, Rogerl other blogs. He's now in to the Middle East, Afghanistan or Iran and hasn't posted lately, hope he's safe and you remain so. I've read he's a real vet and been there since the 80s, but that doesn't make me feel that he'll make it back with all these beheadings. Stay safe.

Posted by: debbie at June 27, 2004 08:18 PM

Boy, did you pick an interesting time to be in Ottawa. This is going to be the most exciting election night in some time.

Posted by: Dave at June 27, 2004 08:27 PM

Boy, did you pick an interesting time to be in Ottawa.

No kidding, if you're still in Ottawa tommorow night. Hoping for a minority gov't. Should be fun, haven't had one of those since the early eighties, if memory serves.

Welcome back to Canada, Michael. Although that's a strange thing for me to say, as we're both members of Cascadia, and Ottawa is a long, long ways away.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 27, 2004 09:32 PM

I hope you and Shelly have a great trip and travel in good health. If you make it to Libya I fully expect you to come back garbed in some of those fine Qaddafi threads -- an irridescent space tunic of some sort. But I hope you at least enjoy your "Night in Tunisia" (or seven, as I recall).

Posted by: Jeremy Brown at June 27, 2004 09:45 PM

Quick question, Michael...

Is the reason you have to go to Canada to get passports to Libya because the U.S. won't give them to you? It just occured to me that they might not be letting Americans fly to Libya these days.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at June 27, 2004 10:22 PM


And I still think you're nuts for wanting to go to Libya, by the way. Have a safe trip, whenever you get to go, okay.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at June 27, 2004 10:23 PM


I can legally go to Libya, but that's only been true for a few months. We don't have a Libyan embassy yet, and at the speed the Libyans work it will be years before we do.

Huge contrast with Tunisia. If you want to visit Tunisia you only have to do one thing - step off the airplane. They'll stamp your passport and you get four months in the country. Libya has a huge and arcane PROCEDURE you have to go through, and it takes them longer than they say it takes. And it's a pain in the ASS. Look at me, flying all the way across the continent to deal with this and it probably won't even work out. (For now.) Will know in a few hours.

By the way, it's nice having a cell phone modem for my laptop. I can blog from almost anywhere now...

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 28, 2004 03:57 AM

Jeremy: If you make it to Libya I fully expect you to come back garbed in some of those fine Qaddafi threads -- an irridescent space tunic of some sort.

See, Grant, Jeremy gets it. Libya is officially Weird. People expect me to come back from Tunisia with a sunburn and maybe a rug or a lamp, but not some outer space bedouin getup. Also, I want a Ghaddafi watch. Everyone who goes to Libya gets one. (Seriously.)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 28, 2004 04:05 AM

Michael, I have no idea what the custom is, but you may be expected to cross some palms with silver to get things expedited. Does anyone have any idea if this is true, and if so, what the customs would be? (All I'm sure of is, if in doubt, don't.)

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 28, 2004 04:52 AM


I asked my Syrian friend about this. He said don't give baksheesh to the embassy because "embassies don't get the little baksheesh, they get the big baksheesh."

He also told me that if the clerk opens a drawer and doesn't take anything out of it, that means I'm expected to put money into it. So I'll watch for that.

Anyway, I'm off to the embassy now. I expect no visa, but they had better at least give me my passport back. I don't need the passport to get into and out of Canada, but I sure do need it to get into Italy and Tunisia.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 28, 2004 05:35 AM

Also, I want a Ghaddafi watch.

You mean the one where his arms rotate around his body to tell time?

Posted by: Independent George at June 28, 2004 06:34 AM

Just in case you haven't heard the news yet, as of June 28th Iraq is now a sovereign nations.

Now back to the doom and gloom, the world is going to end bullshit which is feeding non-believers.

Posted by: syn at June 28, 2004 08:16 AM

Wow! Sounds like the local office where you renew your driver's license writ large.

Posted by: Brooks at June 28, 2004 07:30 PM
Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Pajamas Media BlogRoll Member


"I'm flattered such an excellent writer links to my stuff"
Johann Hari
Author of God Save the Queen?

Andrew Sullivan
Author of Virtually Normal

"Brisk, bracing, sharp and thoughtful"
James Lileks
Author of The Gallery of Regrettable Food

"A hard-headed liberal who thinks and writes superbly"
Roger L. Simon
Author of Director's Cut

"Lively, vivid, and smart"
James Howard Kunstler
Author of The Geography of Nowhere

Contact Me

Send email to michaeltotten001 at gmail dot com

News Feeds


Link to Michael J. Totten with the logo button


Tip Jar


Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
E.L. Doctorow, The Nation

Against Rationalization
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation

The Wall
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic

Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly

The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine

Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn