Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Libya and Adventurous Expats

From an expat point of view, the carnage in Libya is our worst nightmare. I stayed up a bit reading the Al Jazeera¹ live feeds trying to see if Gadaffi was going to flee or try to cling to power. As of this writing, he's still there and multiple countries are now trying to figure out how to rescue their expatriates.

For many would-be expats, "Paris" is the height of adventure for them. I completely understand this point of view as the world is so vast and wonderful that there's plenty of wonderful things to discover everywhere.  But just as there are many Peace Corps volunteers who sadly sneer at other volunteers who have nicer accommodations as being in the Posh Corps (because, you know, electricity is the height of luxury), there are expats for whom it's just not an adventure unless things are harsh.

Eiffel Tower from the Arc De Triomphe
There's enough beauty in the world that
I don't need to risk death to enjoy it.
Photo by Paul Beattie
That's not me. I've gone sky-diving precisely once and I've no intention of repeating this. There's nothing wrong with sky diving, but there are certain levels of perceived risk I'm willing to tolerate and imminent death is not one of them. At the same time, my love of adventure means that while I'm not particularly interested in risking death, I've also shied away from high paying jobs in Dubai because I'm not particularly interested in risking imprisonment. Call me a coward if you will, but so far I've had a pretty damned good life and I have few regrets.

But for the expats in Libya, I feel for them. Many of them are there working for oil companies and claiming a high wage. I confess there's an attraction to that, but for those who think you have to "rough it" to have a real adventure: piss off. Try being a parent.

In other news, I clearly need to write more articles about the French Foreign Legion. There's a small, persistent stream of search engine traffic for them. I suspect the primary demographic there is "young American male". I don't think they would really fancy the 10% mortality rate of Legionnaires, but some will consider anything to "get out".

1. If you you've not checked them out before, they're an excellent source of news coverage. Their opinion pages are often starkly anti-US, but once you begin to understand where they're coming from, it's not entirely unreasonable.


  1. I think actively seeking dangerous places is foolishness, not courage. In fact I think staying in South Africa right now when you have the option of leaving is a bit irresponsible.

    Sure, if you are in the fight to build up a place and struggling to help people, great stuff, but its not worth putting your family at risk to make extra money or live in some temporary barricaded comfort.

    I know people will disagree but that's where I stand.

  2. Al Jazeera is one of my primary homepages. I've really enjoyed their series on 'Region in Turmoil'. It is just another journalistic perspective; I find it jibes with BBC often, though.