14-Jul-2006 -- On the evening of 14 July 2006, in an unexpected turn of events, Alex and I talked ourselves into attempting a third Confluence in one day.
We re-supplied and repaired the tire that had been damaged on route to 31N 13E inside our self-prescribed time limit (much to our delight) and by 17:00 we were back on the road to do the 170 km drive to the 31N 14E Confluence.
The bulk of the drive was easy going and on good surfaced or well maintained dirt roads, however the last 17 km proved to be very slow going and we finally made it to the Confluence at 20:00, some 3 hours after departing Mizda.
Realising that we still had a long drive back to Tripoli and that we were running out of light, we took the necessary photographs and started the return journey. We were ecstatic at having completed 3 visits in one day and with an amazing desert sunset, nothing would dampen our spirits: or so it seemed!
Racing against time and failing light in the desert, we passed a vehicle going in the opposite direction - which promptly turned around and chased us down. The occupants of the vehicle were clearly from some security force; either the Libyan Armed Forces or the Police, and by their excited behavior we were clearly not where we were allowed, or supposed to be. For the next 40 minutes or so we were 'interrogated' in Arabic whilst our vehicle was unpacked and searched. Unfortunately, neither Alex nor I speak Arabic and we were unable to answer their questions, either by gestures or by producing any one of the number of papers that one must have whilst traveling in Libya. Having resigned ourselves to be being arrested and escorted to the local police station for further questioning, it was hard to imagine much more going wrong - then the wind started to howl and a dust storm could be seen to be approaching on the horizon. This was a blessing in disguise, as the authoritarian driver of the vehicle suddenly decided to let us go and let us be on our way!
Nothing could compare with the elation that we felt as we silently thanked our lucky stars, hastily secured the items in the vehicle and started to make our way back to the road. In the darkness with limited visibility, due to the dust and using the GPS to guide us out, the trepidation was offset by the thought that we could be on our way to jail for an unidentified offence!
We returned to Tripoli at 01:30 in the morning very tired but the satisfaction of having completed the 3 challenging Confluences was worth it!