Saturday, July 18, 2015

Another Ramadan is over

This year Ramadan flew by. It was certainly better than last year, but only for anyone living in the west of Libya. Those living in Benghazi suffered  the whole month long and the fighting continues even into the Eid.  Eid is supposed to be a happy time. I hope and pray that the situation in Libya improves.
Wishing that all my Muslim readers have a safe, happy and peaceful Eid. Qul am wa antum bi khair!

Monday, July 06, 2015


Libya's future is about as clear as looking through frosted or patterned glass. You  can see something on the other side, but you can't tell exactly what it is. Sometimes the light looks bright and other times it looks murky and full of shadows.   You keep looking, hoping that the picture will clear.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Tripoli looking peaceful

I took this picture a few weeks ago on a quiet morning while I was waiting for my daughter to do some paperwork.  It would be nice if it were really peaceful.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

May is here...

The weather has been wonderful for the past few weeks - gardening weather. The kids are gearing up for final exams which are right around the corner for Jenna and Ibrahim, but Sara and Yusef will sit their exams in June during Ramadan.

I've had a few interesting adventures. I'll have to sit down and write about them when I get a chance. The power is out for hours every day and when it's on there is the mad scramble to get the essential things done, which unfortunately don't include typing out adventures. Look for an update soon...

Monday, March 30, 2015

Weather for Reading

We've had crazy weather lately, which is pretty normal for this time of year and of course the weather is at it's worst at the weekends, so not much has been going on in my garden. It has, however, given me more time to snuggle under a blanket and read. I've been taking my time, reading slowly and savoring every word. What's the rush?

I've been reading all kinds of things, but here are two that I thought I would share on my blog as they are related to Libya.

"In the wake of World War II, a new U.S. foreign service program was born. TALES FROM TRIPOLI is a memoir of one American family's experience in that program at the Vocational Agricultural Training Center (VATC), a Libyan boys' school that has since evolved into Libya's foremost educational institution, the University of Tripoli. 

Kirsten I. Russell spent most of her childhood at VATC, while her father directed the school. Despite the difficulties of growing up American in a foreign land and culture, and despite the Russells' increasingly troubled home life at the school, the VATC farm became an unforgettable playground for Kirsten and her siblings. Now, through family letters, she understands what her father did there, what it meant to the students, what it cost her family, and how her family bonds survived."

I enjoyed reading the book, and noticed that though many years have passed, so many things are still the same, especially with regards to people and their attitudes. The agriculture department of Tripoli University has probably changed quite a lot, but part of the area has been opened to the public. I passed by there recently and snapped this photo (standing outside the fence):

The grounds are quite large and I have been told that there are many plants and trees there that have been donated by the US Dept of Agriculture and can only be found there, but unfortunately I haven't been inside for a walk around because I can never get anyone to go with me - it's not a good idea to be wandering around alone in Libya these days. It's on my list of things to do... if I can drag someone along. 

Another thing I've been reading is a weblog of poetry (in English) by the Libyan poetess, Nora M. Barghati, titled simply, Nora M. Barghati - Writings She has a lovely way of playing with words that carries the reader away with the images the words create in the mind. I find her work enchanting. 

What have you been reading lately?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Moving into spring

Life's been keeping me occupied these days. The kids had a two week break from school - now they are back. Sara's on break from university so the girls have been having friends over. Lot's of giggling, cake making, pizza and junk food, movies and Xbox.

The usual power cuts,  gasoline and diesel shortages and now there's a shortage of flour so the price of bread has increased. For the most part Tripoli has remained quiet and people go about their business as usual for that's all you can do as life marches on amidst an uncertain future.

I've pretty much given up on following the news. It's too depressing and there is nothing I can do about anything anyway, but my husband is addicted. I plead with him... 'Please change the channel!' and he does - to another Libyan news channel.

We've had quite a bit of rain lately. The wildflowers are beginning to bloom. It's time to take a long walk, smell the flowers, watch the butterflies and birds... and forget about all the things that are beyond my control.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Last Year - a recap of 2014

I usually make a post at the end of each year that recaps the year's posts on my blog. Better late than never. Here is an overview of the posts from 2014.

January started the year with a plan to be optimistic and smile. February continued along the same lines.

March was rainy which made it difficult to drive, but later in the month there were signs of spring. I hit the milestone of 25 years living in Libya. 

In April there were general strikes in Tripoli that caused lots of traffic congestion and not much else. There were shortages of gasoline and the announcement that subsidized petrol would soon be limited (still hasn't happened). I spent time at home with the kids, our pets, the garden and doing some decorating.

May found the people of Tripoli still suffering from a shortage of gasoline. I had a rather scary adventure when I went to fill up my car - a crazy man with a machete next to the pumps. We managed to fill up the tank and get away.

In June there were more petrol shortages which made getting the kids back and forth to school for exams difficult. We began stocking up for Ramadan. Power cuts were a continual problem, but my garden was looking lovely!

July was hot with temperatures soaring to nearly 50 degrees Celsius. Ramadan was here and we tried our best to be patient with the continued power cuts and petrol shortages. By this time the security situation in Tripoli was so bad that my daughter was told not go to the office (more than 6 months later, she still can't go back). Fighting in the distance was so bad that our house constantly rattled and shook. Tripoli International Airport was destroyed in the fighting. Some positive news was that Nalut, a Libyan town in the western mountains was voted one of the most beautiful places in the world for mountain bikers. Some of my photographs of Nalut were used on the Mpora website.  To break up the monotony we spent time in the garden, playing with our pets and at night we started hunting scorpions aided by an ultraviolet flashlight and a pair of barbecue tongs - we caught hundreds of them!

In August Libya witnessed the mass exodus of foreign workers and Libyans as the fighting continued. Embassies (including my own) and companies closed as the situation continued to deteriorate. Thousands of people were crossing the borders on a daily basis. Petrol and electricity issues continued and the stocks dwindled in supermarkets. I posted an ominous looking photo I took of burning fuel tanks that damaged by the ongoing fighting. News reports started referring to the conflict as a civil war.  There was a guest post on my blog - an update to a previous post regarding inheritance rights and the rights of women married to Libyans.  

September marked my blogaversary - my blog turned 10 years old, I celebrated a decade of blogging. Power cuts continued and Libya remained unstable. I posted a fun story about Libyan logic.

In October things started to quiet down in Tripoli. We prepared for the upcoming Eid festivities. I posted about the continued clean up of unexploded ordnance that is at a site located near my home - some positive news for a change! I had another 'interesting' adventure at the gas station.

In November I had some work in Tunis so had a quick 3 day break from Libya. I counted my blessings and enjoyed Thanksgiving.

December - another year gone by. Libyans prayed for rain and then there was a deluge. Fighting continued in Libya although Tripoli was quiet and people went about their business. The usual power cuts were never ending. Libya had fallen into uncertainty - two (or more ) governments, the threat of ISIS, unemployment was high and the costs of goods and services was rising. The Central Bank announced that there was not enough money to pay salaries in 2015. Libyans live in a state of limbo. 

Phew.... what a year! Let's hope 2015 brings peace to Libya. 

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Thank you!

Many thanks for this award given to me by those who visit the All Libyan Blogs blog list and voted for my blog. I'm honoured and hope to continue to post about my life in Libya. 

Best wishes to all for a peaceful 2015!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Nearly the end of another year

It feels like Tripoli is in a state of suspended animation. People are just watching and waiting for something to happen. It's now been almost half a year since the UN and most embassies have left. Most companies have downsized or closed completely. Unemployment is high, the cost of goods and services is climbing.

I read on the internet that the Central Bank says there are not enough funds to pay government employees their salaries for the first month of the new year. What a mess... sigh...

Lots of holidays in the next few weeks. Libya's Independence Day is next Wednesday.  We'll have a day off... there isn't anything to do, we'll stay home.

Another holiday, Meloud, the celebration of Prophet Mohammed's birthday falls in the first week of January this year.  It's usually celebrated with a barrage of fireworks.  It will be interesting to see how much the 'poor' citizens will waste on fireworks this year... Personally, I've had enough explosions to last me a few lifetimes!

Merry Christmas to those of my readers who celebrate!

I'll be looking back on the year next week.... lots of blessings to count and plans to make for the future.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Rainy with a Chance Power Cuts

It seemed like the electricity problems had been solved and all of Libya had gotten into the routine of using electrical appliances again.... unfortunately, power cuts have resumed... We are back to waiting for hours for the power to turn back on, restocking our supplies of candles and recharging the battery operated lanterns. Looking on the bright side  the weather is cool and we aren't suffering from the heat.... just add a few blankets at night and wear layers of sweaters and all will be fine.

The past few weeks there had been calls for Libyans to participate in special prayers for rain... their prayers have been answered! It's rained most of the week. Of course while they were busy praying for rain no one thought about making sure the drainage systems or the streets were clean so when the skies opened up the streets flooded. Driving in deep pools of sewage and floating rubbish is treacherous and there have been huge traffic jams all over town. 

No one really seems to know what is going on in the news... How many governments does Libya have now? And are they doing anything? There are reports that there is fighting going on in the east, the south and to the west of the capital but Tripolitanians seem almost oblivious or maybe they're just letting it loom in the back of their minds. Most people I talk to  just want the fighting to stop and peace to return. Some people are taking sides, but mostly people are neutral - or they just don't want to say who they are siding with which is probably safer.

Weekend has arrived - I'm staying home, relaxing and reading a book. It's nearly the end of the year... time to start thinking about New Year's resolutions. 

Monday, December 08, 2014

Glorious Winter

Yesterday's sunrise lit the sky up in gorgeous shades of pink. This was the sky in the morning as I was going to work. After a very long day I returned home after dark under a huge glowing full moon. Winter is here.... it's raining today.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Making the best of it all

It's been a while since my last post. I've wanted to sit down and write for a while, but first of all I've been busy and secondly I'd been feeling a bit negative and I figured I'd just end up filling up a blog post with pessimism. So I decided to hold off until I found something to be optimistic about... it took a while!

Thanksgiving is next week... even though life here isn't optimal, I have plenty to be thankful for; a comfortable roof over our heads, food in abundance, we've got gasoline and cooking gas, the kids discovered an Adidas outlet and everyone has new shoes, my garden is looking quite nice, I had a three day break in Tunisia, health, well being, kids in school... all small things, but they add up. I suppose I could list negative things, but no, I won't do that, not today anyway because I'm doing what I can to make the best of what life hands me.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

You can do whatever you want in Libya

I stopped at the gas station this morning after I dropped the kids off at school. There were only 4 cars in front of me. The long lines that we've experienced at the pumps for the past few months are gone. 

There was a woman in the car in front of mine. She pulled up to the pump and pushed two empty containers out the window at the pump attendant. He put the first one on the ground next to the pump and casually began to fill it. The gasoline quickly reached the top and spilled out over the sides of the bottle. As he was putting the cap on the bottle I realized he was also holding a lit cigarette in his hand! He put the filled bottle in the back seat of the woman's car and proceeded to fill the second one, only stopping to take a drag off his cigarette. 

'Excuse me,' I called out from the car window, 'Would you please put out your cigarette? It's very dangerous and you are putting our safety at risk.' He stood there for a minute and looked at me, then he continued smoking and told me 'Ya Momma, mind your own business. I can do whatever I want.'

Sadly, this attitude is very common in Libya these days.... sigh...

Friday, October 10, 2014

Positive Things Do Happen in Libya

Recently I installed a time-lapse camera on my mobile phone and I have been fiddling around with it, mostly taking videos of the traffic. There is something about the flickering images that intrigues me for some reason. Today I came across a website that had time-lapse satellite imagery of different places around the world. It gave me the idea to look at the progress being made on the cleanup of a military camp in Ainzara where ordinance had been stored and to create a time-lapse video of the site.


This site is located in an area called Khamsa Shwara by the locals and is next to a residential area quite close to Tripoli University Campus B (Nasr). It's really quite alarming that so many bombs were being stored in such close proximity to the population. 

The picture below shows the amount of ordinance being stored there in July 2011.
Click on the image for a larger picture. 
NATO bombed the site in August 2011. I can honestly say that it was the most terrifying night of my life. I wrote about it in my journal which you can find here: August 2011 You can see the bomb craters that hit underground bunkers and also a large amount of unexploded missiles in the image below.

Click on the image for a larger picture.
After Tripoli was liberated I wrote a post about the site and added pictures of the damage from the bombs. You can see it here: Flashback - Unexploded Ordnance in Tripoli

After the revolution, work began to clean up the site. An independent aid organization, Handicap International, recruited and trained a team of Libyans and began diffusing and removing the missiles. They also launched educational programs to warn Libyans about the dangers of landmines, fire arms and unexploded ordnance. I posted about it here:  Making Libya a Safer Place 

Below is the latest satellite picture taken on August 8, 2014. You can really get an idea of how much progress has been made. I'm not sure why the picture is black and white.

Click on the image for a larger picture.
The images for this post and the time-lapse video I created were taken from Google Earth beginning in February 2002 and ending in August 2014. Clean up is still underway.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Gearing up for Eid

It's that time of year again... Eid al Adha is tomorrow. This week there was heavy traffic on the roads around Tripoli as people were out and about. In past years you would normally have to drive to the outskirts of the city to buy your sacrificial ram, but this year it seems like there are herds of sheep penned up on the sides of all the main roads. This has added to the traffic congestion as even those who are not stopping to buy a sheep are slowing down to have a look - window shopping from their cars! 

All the equipment needed for the sacrifice can be found piled up in front of shops; large plastic washtubs, cutting boards, cleavers and knives, ropes, enameled containers, huge stainless steel bowls, and of course grills and sacks of charcoal. Gasoline and cooking gas are available and the vegetable stands are well stocked (but nearly double the prices of last year). 

I'd have some pictures here, but I'm too busy trying to traverse the busy roads safely to take any. No one is paying too much attention to their driving as their eyes are on the goods for sale on the sides of the roads. 

Apart from all of the excitement of the Eid preparations, Tripoli has been fairly quiet (not sure if I can say that about Benghazi). Everyone I talk to says they hope that after the holiday is over that the peace will continue and life in Libya will improve. 

Wishing all who celebrate a safe and peaceful Eid al Adha. Eid mubarak!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Decade of Blogging in Libya

This post marks the anniversary of a decade since I started this blog. It's been an amazing, interesting and certainly educational ten-year journey. My online life didn't begin with this blog, it started out as a project to learn about web design, which came after my quest to learn how to master Photoshop, which I never quite managed to do! One thing led to another. Originally, I set up a website and taught myself simple coding and design using various web design programs. The website I created focused on Libya, the country that I called home. There wasn't much information available about Libya online at the time and I learned about this amazing country as I assembled it all.

Websites, however, cost money, and as the Internet evolved, blogs came onto the scene - and they were free! Designed for people with few skills in web design and not much knowledge of coding, blogs soon became an easy and popular way for people to express themselves on the Internet. By this time I was ready to move on to other things and so I decided to stop paying the fees for my website and moved on to blogging. The domain name of my former website is still out there. Originally, a German man bought it and tried to sell it back to me for a few thousand dollars, but I wasn't interested. Since then someone else has bought up the address, which these days is a Japanese massage therapy site - nothing naughty, thank God! It does make me wonder what KhadijaTeri means in Japanese.

My blog started out as a way to keep my family and friends 'back home' up to date on what was going on in my life. My kids were growing up, we were busy building our house and Libya was constantly evolving. I wanted to reassure my family that we were safe and well. The blog became a kind of online journal. Soon though, it took on a life of it's own. Libyans who could speak English began to read my blog. People who had lived in Libya in the past - many who were stationed at the American Wheelus Airbase (which is now called Mateiga), World War 2 veterans and ex-pat workers took an interest in my blog to see how things in Libya had changed over time. Homesick Libyans who lived abroad were also interested, and people who were planning to move here for their work or careers, as well as the spouses and girlfriends of Libyans who were living in different parts of the world. I receive emails and messages from people from all walks of life, asking for advice and information, or just wanting to be friends. I've met many wonderful people because of my blog as well as a few weirdos, but mostly I can attest that it has been a positive experience.

Like all good bloggers, I like to keep track of who is reading, and for this I have a few counters that keep track of the statistics. You can see one on the sidebar. At the time of this post the count stood at just under 439,000 people from all corners of the globe that have stopped by for a visit. That's a lot of visitors - nearly half a million clicks!

Over time I started to post less often, but still I've continued to post. During the revolution, when the Internet service in Libya came to an abrupt halt, I kept a daily journal of what was happening in my life and posted it as soon as the Internet returned and things seemed safe enough to do so (you can find those posts in the tabs along the top - one for each month).

Throughout the years of the Gadaffi regime I had to be careful of what I wrote about, but honestly I think they let me get away with quite a lot! For a while during those years, Libyan security had people infiltrating the Libyan blogosphere, posting comments and some were even blogging themselves. Quite a few Libyan bloggers stopped blogging because of this, but undaunted, I kept on. 

After the revolution, there was a brief period of freedom of expression. You can still say what you like, but there's a real risk of being kidnapped or assassinated if someone doesn't like what you have to say - and no one seems to know who exactly to be mindful of these days. The whole concept of freedom is new for Libya... it will take a while before they finally get the hang of it.

Blogging became a part of my life in different ways. Over time I've had other kinds of blogs - this blog sprouted others. One blog that I'm particularly proud of, is called Libyan Street Art which I started shortly after the liberation of Tripoli. It is a collection of graffiti and street art, much of which I photographed myself. The graffiti represents an important aspect of Libya's part of the Arab Spring. A substantial amount of the art has been painted over since then, so I am very happy that I was able to collect these wonderful displays and preserve them in one place before they were lost forever. The Libyan Street Art blog has been featured in festivals held in Spain and France and was also part of a study done by a Libyan post grad student in the USA.

My enthusiasm about the world of blogs took me to introducing blogs and blogging to my students as a way to encourage them to write and read more in English and led me to setting up student blogs at the schools where I have worked. A colleague and I were so impressed by the impact that it had on our students' writing that we were inspired to present a workshop about student blogs for English teachers in Libya. I've also collaborated with school and student blogs in different parts of the world. Another aspect of my blog has been having guest posts which has been very popular with readers, and I've also been a guest writer on other people's blogs. It's really been an interesting global adventure!

What will the future bring? That's hard to say, but for now I will keep writing and posting. It's been an awesome 10 years. Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Still having prolonged power cuts

I'm enjoying the ac
Blasting away at 18°C
It's going to be a great day
As long as the electricity doesn't run away.

(in Libyan Arabic electricity isn't cut, it runs away)

Friday, September 05, 2014

Libyan Logic

The main road near where I live passes by an area that has a strip of vegetable stands. I rarely stop there because the vegetables are all a bit over priced - the vendors take advantage of their convenient location knowing full well that people will pay a little more to save themselves some time. 

Roughly in the middle of the strip is a small grubby looking trailer with blue water and white fish painted on the outside.  On display next to the trailer is a large brown stuffed rocking horse perched atop a stack of produce crates. Every time I pass by I wonder why it's there. Are they selling horse meat along with the fish? I've never seen horse meat in Libya, but I have seen it in shops in neighbouring Tunisia. 

One day while I was out with my daughter I had a bit of time on my hands and decided to investigate. I pulled the car over. My daughter asked me why we were stopping. 'Once and for all I'm going to find out what the horse is all about' I replied.

I walked up to the horse and had a closer look... definitely a stuffed rocking horse. Then I proceeded to the front of the trailer. There was a man standing behind a display of fish. 'Asalamualaikum! My brother, do you sell horse meat?' I asked politely. With a surprised look the man replied 'No my sister. I sell fish. I have many kinds of fish. Why do you ask about horse meat?' I pointed to the rocking horse and said 'I noticed that you have this rocking horse on display. Every day I pass by and wonder if it is because you sell horse meat. I was curious and thought I would ask.' Now it was the man's turn to be curious. He asked 'Do you eat horse meat?  I only have the horse as a decoration, but you may have it if you like.' I smiled and said 'No, no, I don't eat horse meat, but I wondered if you had any what the price would be. I have many dogs on my farm and I thought that if the price of horse meat was cheap I might buy some to feed them.'  The man laughed 'Please take the horse, I am only using it a decoration. Please take it as a present.' I smiled, shaking my head 'Thank you my brother, but I have no small children to play with the horse. You should keep it here as a decoration.' The man spread his open hands out over his displays of fish 'Well then, I have many kinds of fresh fish for sale, my sister.'  'Another time' I replied 'I'm not heading for home and it's too hot today to keep fresh fish in my car'. 

When I got back in the car my daughter asked 'What happened?' I laughed 'He only sells fish. The horse is just for decoration!' As we drove away the man waved at us, and we waved back. My curiosity has been satisfied. 

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