Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

A youth builds a fire on the waterfront, the night before the city exploded in celebration over the U.N. decision to impose a no-fly zone over Libya.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

In typical fashion, a Libyan man smokes a cigarette and fires off a few rounds during a celebration of the U.N. decision to impose a no-fly zone over Libya.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

The dome of a mosque on the road to Cairo.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Pillars and a headless sculpture stand at the center of the ancient Greek city of Cyrene in eastern Libya. The fighting caused more damage to ancient ruins.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

A boy walks along the beach in the eastern city, which feels like a million miles from the fighting to the west.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

African guest workers have been camping out on the Libyan side of the border with Egypt, hoping for a boat trip to anywhere in Europe.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

African guest workers have refused to cross into Egypt, instead hoping for a chance to be evacuated to Europe.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Libyan families wait to cross the border into Egypt.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Desert flowers and greenery blur past as a car races on its way to Cairo.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

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A photographer’s journey from Libya back to Egypt

By Luis Sinco, Los Angeles Times

When you no longer flinch at the sound of gunfire, even as it thunders just a few inches away, you kind of get the feeling that it’s time to go. “You are not even scared,” said my driver Ali, shaking his head. “They are shooting very close and you don’t jump.”

Yes, it’s crazy, but you get used to it. Everybody shoots all the time, and after a while even the deep thump of antiaircraft artillery doesn’t faze. My main concern was to file some photos as soon as possible.

It was two o’clock this morning and we had just attended a raucous party in the main square of Tobruk, east of Benghazi, where thousands of people celebrated the U.N. decision to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. The rattle of assault rifles filled the air while fireworks and tracer rounds lighted the night.

Seven hours later, I was on the road to Cairo and I noticed a slight buzz in my left ear.

We were heading east, and I felt like we should have been west in Benghazi, where the real celebration was, in the capital of the Libyan revolution. But orders are orders, and you sometimes can’t swim against the tide.

A lot of journalists were told by their editors to leave Libya, which had suddenly become too dangerous in the wake of four New York Times journalists getting detained by forces loyal to dictator Moammar Kadafi.  Never mind the bombs, rockets and bullets. It’s the hostage thing some really worry about.

Journalists are targets now. That became evident from 2004 to 2006 when the violence was just so unreal and relentless in Iraq. Back then, if you got pinched, you’d have the lead role, wearing an orange jump suit, in a really bad home video about beheading.

The animosity in Libya wasn’t as high, though it was heading in the wrong direction. A few days ago, a doctor in the service of the rebels told Times reporters Jeffrey Fleishman, David Zucchino and I that he suspected journalists of calling in airstrikes by Kadafi forces against the rebels.

An educated man thinks like this and the world suddenly appears upside down.

So on the way out I stuck my arm out the window and let the wind rush through my fingers and push against the palm of my hand. Outside, yellow flowers and the greenery of late winter in the desert blurred past. Bruno Mars was on the sound system, belting out the refrain:

I would go through all this pain,
Take a bullet straight through my brain,
Yes, I would die for ya baby;
But you won’t do the same

Sing it, my fellow Filipino-American! Yes, it sounds good now, but the truth is my kids play this song way too much at home.

So now I am in Cairo, and this hotel is so fancy. Maybe I’ll get to go back to ragged Libya and see the story through. It’s 2:30 a.m. Way too late but typical of the last month.

Later today I’ll call my wife and kids, go see the Pyramids and do some laundry. For sure I won’t be taking photos of guys with guns.

2 Comments

  1. March 18, 2011, 10:45 pm

    Thank you for sharing the intense emotions of leaving.

    By: pablo
  2. March 31, 2011, 3:53 pm

    I'm going to do what you do, Sinco. Thank you.

    By: sal

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