I was very surprised to be invited to attend the presentation of Bob's credentials. This is an old and very formal ceremony, where his credentials are presented, and his predecessor's recalled. It is unusual to have anyone other than the main players present.
A black car picked us up. Bob was presenting with two other ambassadors - Burundi and Chile. We had chatted to the Chilean as we waited to be collected from the hotel. The cars arrived, black and formal, one for each ambassador. Flags were handed over, ready for the return after the ceremony when flags would be flown on the cars.
We whipped through the city with sirens screaming if traffic dared to pile up in front of us. This is a lovely city, clean and organized with white major buildings with the touches of blue and turquoise which are very typical of North African cities. Date palms surround buildings and rim the sea. It is fertile and surprising green, with the usual Mediterranean crops of oranges, olives, almonds and the less common (in the Mediterranean) dates.
The presentation of credentials is usually done to the Head of State. Bob represents the Queen, through the Governor General. However, in Libya credentials are not received by the Head of State.
Birundi was first and Chile second. We waited in a decorated anteroom, and while the furniture was gilt as in Cairo, it had coloured twirls of flowers in pinks and greens and yellows, and they crept over all the wooden surfaces.
When we were called in the whole process moved like a well-choreographed play. I was shown where to stand, and "our" group was in place in seconds.
Bob stood on one end of a large patterned carpet with an interpreter behind him. Opposite at the far end of the carpet were eight men, a row of three in front, and five behind. All stood at attention while Bob read his speech. It had to be read, as he had submitted it a day beforehand, and it had to be the same. He would read a sentence, and the interpreter would translate.
He then stepped forward and handed over the formal paperwork with the Governor General's seal.
Then the acceptance was read, and we retired to an adjoining area for a little "informal" conversation, under the glare of many cameras.
I am not sure how many women have been privileged to see such a ceremony in this part of the world, and I feel deeply honoured.