From Tripoli to Kyiv


I’ve had Uber drivers from all over the world, but not in until recently, from Libya.  We had a good conversation and shared both a ride and our mutual love for Ukraine.  My conversation with Ibrahim (not real name) follows.

Ibraham:  теперь так холодно. Горячий один день, а затем холодный следующий. Это Украина, да?  (it is so cold now.  It is hot one day and then cold the next.  That’s Ukraine, right?)

Bryan: Да, каждый день отличается (yes, every day is different)

Ibrahim (Recognizes my accent and switches to English): It’s ok. I still love it here.

Bryan:  Your name is Arabic – may I ask where you are from?

Ibrahim: Yes, I am from Libya.

Bryan:  Interesting. My wife has worked there before.

Ibrahim: Before or after the revolution?

Bryan: After.

Ibrahim: Things really changed after the revolution.  Now Libya is dangerous and it is really a mafia state.  I used to have money, I used to be a successful businessman in Libya.  Now anyone with a gun can take what you have worked for.  So here I am driving Uber to pay for rent and food for my wife here in Kyiv.  But I am not complaining.  I am happy to be here and thank God for Ukraine.  Here I can work easily, people are so nice, and you can live a kind life.

Bryan: I love being here too.  Life is Interesting isn’t it? An American and a Libyan in a car together talking about how much they love the country they both live in.

Ibrahim: People here are nice to you regardless of what your religion or your race is.  It’s not like that in a lot of the world.  People make me feel welcome.

Bryan: And how long have you been in Ukraine?

Ibrahim: About two years, going back and forth.  Before the revolution, I was married to a Libyan woman.  When we fled Libya we went to Jordan together and I bought an expensive apartment for us.  Then things did not work out and we became divorced.  I gave her the apartment so she would have a place to live.  It was the honorable thing to do.  But now she has a new man and she wants to live in the apartment with him.  I am not ok with that.  That’s frustrating but I am very happy to be here with my second wife, who is Ukrainian, and thanks to God, we have a beautiful child.  I took my wife to Libya once and she said she didn’t think she could ever live there.  Honestly, I feel the same way now.  I am Libyan but Ukraine is home.

Bryan: And how do you feel about Ukrainian food? Borscht? Verenekyi?

Ibrahim: My wife cooks Ukrainian food and I like all of it.  We eat it all the time.

Bryan: Do you have family in Libya still?

Ibrahim: I do.  I have so many sisters. You wouldn’t believe it.  Ten.  They live in Tripoli, Misrata, Sirte, and Benghazi.  I used to visit them all the time.  Now we see each other less.  Libya is still very troubled – too many governments, too many guns, too much fighting.  I don’t know if it will ever be the same again.

Bryan: I hope for peace in Libya and in Ukraine.

Ibrahim: I do as well.

Bryan:  Are you driving all night?

Ibrahim:  Just until ten o clock.  A few more rides and then I will return to my wife.  I should go back and spend time with her.

Bryan: That’s my stop over there.  I enjoyed talking to you.  Have a good weekend!