Andy Carvin

According to activists inside and outside Syria, the government's 27-day siege against the opposition stronghold of Baba Amr has now succeeded. Initial reports suggest that forces are entering this neighborhood in the city of Homs, but details are sketchy at best because most of the reporters and citizen journalists covering the story have either fled or died.

Our car pulled over along a deserted traffic circle in a small Jordanian village. An old man freshly covered in thick, wet sleet climbed into the back seat, his cold breath reeking of cigarettes.

"This is Khaled," my Syrian contact said. "He will show us to the border."

"I don't know why the traffic is like this," he said. "It's Friday just before prayers; where are all these people going?"

My friend Emad and I had been driving around the perimeter of Bab al-Azizia, Gadhafi's notorious compound just outside downtown Tripoli. It was here that NATO concentrated many of its bombing runs, as did President Reagan in the 1980s. Now the outer walls are a crumbling mess, covered with anti-Gadhafi graffiti.

We arrived nearly an hour late, our taxi drivers lost in the potholed, half-flooded streets of Tripoli. Our Libyan host, who would never have fathomed an on-time start anyway, invited us upstairs, where he had managed to arrange an impressive array of hors d'oeuvres and beverages on such short notice.

People arrived in groups of three or four at a time. Everyone knew almost everyone else. They hugged each other as if it could be their last time, struggled to hold back the tears, occasionally finding a way to evince a smile from each other.

A lanky Libyan man leans hard against the railing, looking out at the waves of the Mediterranean crashing below us on the seafront in Benghazi. He's lost in thought for a moment, then shakes his head and takes a long drag from his cigarette.

"They were dropping like flies," he says. "I knew I was going to die next."

A light mist of cold rain started falling on us from the moment we reached the cemetery. If I hadn't felt it on my face, I probably wouldn't have even noticed it, as the hardscrabble stretching throughout the grave yard appeared just as parched as one might expect in a desert country.

Stepping out of my hotel on Friday evening, I could see cars backed up for miles, stretching all the way around the Benghazi's biggest lake, not far from the shores of the Mediterranean.

Horns blared in every direction, but not just car horns: bull horns, oo-gahhorns, vuvuzelas, aerosol-powered horns, even a bagpipe or two. The air smelled of exhaust, gasoline and the occasional whiff of hash. It was a cacophonous mess, overwhelming, painful to the ears, joyful, extraordinary.

I've spent the day in the company of Malik L, a Benghazi-based hip hop artist who seems to get stopped every 100 feet by either a friend or a fan. In between these conversations, I asked Malik about what celebrations were scheduled for tonight.

"I have no idea," he replied. "No one does. Libya has never done this before. We don't know how to celebrate an anniversary."

While pretty much any corner of Benghazi is a fine place to celebrate this week, the heart of the celebrations are taking place at the courthouse and its public square, where some of the revolution's first protests took place.

The streets of Benghazi have turned into the world's most joyous parking lot.

Every single vehicle, moving slower than a toddler walking, is honking its horn in a variety of patterns to celebrate the first anniversary of the revolution.

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