A vial of Saharan sand from the Acacus region in Libya

This small film canister is filled with an almost downy-fine sand that I collected in 2004 in the Acacus region in southwestern Libya, near the border with Algeria and Niger.  When seen running off in crests to the horizon, the sand ranges in color from a deep ochre to a soft rose depending on the light and time of day.  I was in the Acacus traveling off-road through the Sahara on assignment for Travel + Leisure — the article I wrote about that journey can be read here and if you look at the scans of the article that first image is the spot where I collected the canister of sand — through lands that felt so remote that, now, it often seems only something as material as sand confirms that I was really there.  The advantageous remoteness of this region was not lost on the Gaddafi clan, either: when the regime collapsed a few months ago, a couple of Gaddafi’s sons attempted to escape through the very regions I had traveled in 2004.

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Click here to see excerpts from the Gaddafi family photo album or here for videos of the pre-Gaddafi Libya in which my family lived in the 1960s.  Click here to see my attempts to make sense of Gaddafi’s famous Green Book, which I bought in Tripoli.  Or here to read about Seif al-Islam’s capture near Ubari, another region of the Sahara in which I traveled.  Or here to read my takedown of Hugh Roberts’s unconvincing defense of Gaddafi in the London Review of Books.

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