“Back in civilization!” my companion in Libya exclaimed as we drove from Libya into Egypt in late April. “I’ll be able to get my e-mail and my newspapers!”
I thought we had just left civilization.
Two weeks in Benghazi and three days in other towns in eastern Libya had shown me civilization as I wished it were: public civility, private effort, generosity, responsibility, egalitarianism. And part of the magic of Libya al Hurra (“Libya the Free,” as the eastern part of the country is known) was the absence of the Internet.
You could still check your e-mail—very slowly on laptop at my hotel, the Uzu, where the link was too weak for my BlackBerry to get e-mail, or quickly on BlackBerry at the Al Jazeera Net Café, which, on the other hand, had a terribly slow connection for laptops.