The story begins on Saturday, November 17th, the day I took Ibrahim to the book fair. While at the fair I got a call from my friend Tara who said she was in the hospital with a ruptured Achilles tendon that she got playing squash. The doctors wanted her to have an MRI and suggested she take the results to Malta for emergency surgery. So I dropped Ibrahim off at home and met her at the clinic to wait with her while she was doing her tests. Then, while her husband left to make travel and hospital arrangements, I took her home to help her pack her bags and send her off with her husband to the airport.
She arrived in Malta and went straight to the hospital. The next morning she had surgery; everything going as planned. She was soon able to move out of the hospital and into a hotel. The only problem she faced was that her husband needed to get back to Tripoli for work and she couldn't stay alone - so I came to the rescue and Tara's husband and I switched places.
That in itself was a bit of an ordeal seeing that now everyone needs an Arabic translation in their passport to either enter or exit Libya - and I didn't have the translation. After a bit of a hassle we finally got it done, the embassy allowing it because of the circumstances. It was a headache but it got done. Off I went to Malta.
I arrived to find poor Tara, set up in her room with her leg propped up; cigarettes, the remote control, chips and junk food, cell phone and
Her room was conveniently located right next to mine so when she needed me she would just bang on the wall with her crutches and start yelling 'Teri! Teri!' I need a ...... !' and I would come and get her what ever it was she needed.
We couldn't really do too much more than hang around the room, which was fine with me. We had our laptops, internet and Tara had some new video games to play. Sometimes we watched TV. I had the luxury of my very own room and bathroom!
When you have six kids you NEVER get to be in the bathroom for long. Someone will start banging on the door asking to get in almost immediately - so this was wonderful! I had long showers and baths without anyone knocking on the door or hearing anyone fighting and arguing outside the door either .... it was bliss!
We did manage to go out a few times. Sometimes we met up with some Maltese friends that Tara knew. I suggested getting a wheelchair but Tara flat out refused this idea. So off she crutched. It was slow going. She would get about 4 metres and have to stop to rest.
Not being able to get around meant that mostly we went to cafe's and restaurants. Relaxing, stuffing ourselves with good food and enjoying the pleasant weather. Reading a newspaper was an added treat!
We didn't see much of Malta. It's a place with a mixture of old and new. There are churches everywhere and we left our balconies open so we could hear the church bells ring.
The buildings are mostly old and made from quarried sandstone. The streets are narrow and the sidewalks paved in bricks.
Mixed in with this are modern hotels and shops built with marble and shiny glass.
The reflexion in the glass of the old building across the street makes this picture interesting... the old with the new.
Malta is also beginning to get geared up for Christmas. There were some trees decorated and nativity scenes set up. It's been ages since I had seen that.
After a few days the doctor signed the papers saying Tara was fit enough to travel and we came back to Libya safe and sound. She'll have to return later for follow up care. I was so happy to be able to help out my friend.
The kids were happy to have me back. They dug through my bags more efficiently than any customs officer looking for their prizes. Malta unfortunately is ridiculously expensive so I didn't bring home much. But they were happy with the few small things I got for them.
[click on images for enlargements]