Showing posts from 2012

More First Impressions

My last blog post was an exchange with Victoria of Words on My Mind about our arrival in Libya. There's another arrival story by Old Momma, who is an American who lived in Tajoura for a while in 2006 and has recently returned. Her first impressions in 2006 are here: First Impressions. You can read her renewed first impressions from September 2012 on her blog: Trip of a Lifetime. I really enjoyed reading her stories... I hope she finds Libya an easier place to live this time around.

Arriving in Libya for the first time...

Over the years I've met all kinds of interesting people as the result of my blog. Some people come here just by chance and have a look around and then go on their merry way, others visit regularly. Most visitors come because they have some kind of connection to Libya - they are Libyan that live here or live abroad, married to/engaged to/dating a Libyan, ex-pats who are working here or thinking of working here, relatives of someone living here, etc. 
One visitor to my blog who's also become my Facebook friend is an American woman named Victoria. I think of Victoria as my Wheelus connection because she came to Libya when her father was working on Wheelus Airforce Base. She's also a writer and has got a blog of her own called Words on My Mind and has written a book about her experiences in Libya titled: An Army Brat in Libya; Memories of Tripoli in the 1950s
A few months ago Victoria and I decided we should have a blog exchange. She'd write a post for my blog and I'…

Fresh Air

The weather is lovely during the day so we've been opening up the windows and doors. The iron gate on the front door does nothing to keep the puppies out. They keep coming in, trying to see what we are doing. Curious little things... Shoo! Shoo!

Tick Tock Says the Clock!

I was so thrilled about the implementation of daylight savings time in Libya. Oh how wonderful to be heading out the door with the sun shining brightly overhead! But the whole concept of daylight savings time has been ruined.....

Nora came home from university and said the lectures had all been moved back an hour.... Ibrahim's school announced that they will start an hour earlier...Upon arrival at Jenna's school we were told that she was an hour late - they have moved the start of the school day at her high school back an hour too...
Hmmm... you always hear the phrase 'the village idiot'. It's always singular, never plural.... except in Libya - it's definitively plural here.

Setting our clocks back an hour

Daylight savings time has been implemented this year in Libya. We haven't had a time change here for years. The whole idea seems to confuse everyone, but I'm happy to wake up in the morning as the sun rises. Breakfast on the front porch with a glorious sunrise - what a wonderful way to start the day! 

Who was that woman?

I had a car accident yesterday. No one was hurt, thank God, but the whole event just pissed me off. This is what happened:

I was on my way to pick up the kids from school which means it was high traffic time. The roads were really congested but cars were moving, albeit slowly. I made it round a round-about and onto the road and all of a sudden - BAM! There was a big crunching noise. 
Someone had hit my left rear bumper. Then the car swerved off the side of the road into a dirt road in an attempt to escape. But the dirt road ended in a dead end - trapped with nowhere to go. At this point I noticed that it was a female driving the car. She tried to back up and then went a bit forward, opened the door and got out of the car but the car kept going - she hadn't put the car in park! She managed to get in the car and stop it and then got back out. She took out her mobile and placed a call and then started walking quickly towards the road where I had parked.
I got out of my car and checke…

On My To Do List

I haven't been to the Tripoli Museum in ages, since before the war. It's on my list of things to do. I want to see what changes have been made - they used to have nearly a whole floor dedicated to Gadaffi. I want to find out what's in it's place, if anything. And did they get rid of the stuffed deformed animals? I always found it amusing that they were next to the Gadaffi exhibits. All kidding aside, the museum is pretty impressive, which is why it warrants another visit.

I took these a few years ago when I visited the museum with some friends.

Also on my list of things to do is to head for the beach for some beach-combing  I want to drag back some things to put in my garden. I found a really informative website listing the tides in Tripoli... have to go when the tide is low - and lately that is in the morning after I drop my kids off at school.

More Unexploded Ordinance in Libya - Type 314

Disarming munitions is an ongoing process in Libya, one that is likely to take years and years. Recently I came across an article about the discovery of French made cluster bombs that have been found in the west of Libya. 
During the war, NATO's airstrikes repeatedly hit one of Libya's largest munition storage dumps, in an area called Ga-a, resulting in huge explosions that lasted hours and hours. Later, the munitions depot was looted by anti-Qaddafi fighters who made off with anything that they thought was useful or salable. All kinds of weapons were stored at the site, among them were French made cluster bombs named Type 314. 
Little is known about how Type 314s made their way to Libya, but what is known is that so far the disposal teams working to disarm munitions in Libya haven't got a clue how the Type 314s work or how to safely defuse them. Surely France's military has this knowledge, but this information is kept in a classified ordinance disposal document datab…

It's All in the Intonation

Me: Hey Honey, I'm learning Gaelic online.
Hubby: (looks disinterested) That's nice.
Me: Ciamar a tha sibh?
Hubby: Ooooh Yeah! (looking very interested)
Me: No! That is NOT what that means! It means 'How are you?'.

I think I will skip to the advanced lessons... If Lesson One provoked such interest imagine what the advanced lessons will do!

Thanks Pig Sty Avenue for the link. It's been a good refresher of what beginner students go through.

Mangling a Language

For years and years Gadaffi forbade any signs in English.... Maybe because he saw the mess the Chinese make of things... I'm looking forward to a new Libya with wonderfully funny signs. 

Libya still finding it's feet, but hey, it's finally autumn!

It's finally autumn here. The weather is cooling off and we've had a few showers. Below is a picture I took   one day last week of an approaching storm at sunset. There was an incredible show of lightning right behind the mosque but I was never able to click fast enough to catch the lightning strikes.

We've finally finished painting the house, well just the stucco (or graffit as they call it here) so far. We still have to paint the ironwork. These days we're installing all the lighting and as my husband has decided to take on this project himself there is a lot of him going up and down ladders and turning on and off the electricity. But it looks good so far - I'm really pleased how it's all coming together.
Next Friday is Eid al Adha - the Feast of the Sacrifice or in Libya it's often referred to as Eid al Kabir, the Greater Eid. More information can be found about the holiday on: Wikipedia. We've already got our sacrificial ram. He was imported from S…

A Matter of Security

The news services are full of reports questioning the level of security at the US Consulate in Benghazi, as well as the embassy in Tripoli and other embassies throughout the region. Safety and security should be an issue for embassy personnel  but what about Americans living in countries where embassies are now open only for emergency services? And what are emergency services anyway? 
Recently, a friend of mine had an emergency and as she has no internet she asked if I would look online for the emergency phone number. Ok, that was easy enough... but wait! The phone numbers don't work! Out of service says the recording in Arabic. Plan B: Let's try the emergency email... within seconds of clicking on the send button I got an automatic reply. The message back was: 
Thank you for contacting the Consular Section at U.S. Embassy Tripoli.  We normally respond to inquiries within three business days. 
Three business days!?! For an emergency!?! There was also a different phone number t…

As time goes by....

When the weather is just right and the morning is peaceful I throw open all the doors and windows and let the fresh air and soft morning light inside. And to add to the mood I turn on some music.... moldy oldies. There are always some songs from Frank Sinatra thrown into the mix. Breakfast on the terrace. 
Yes, it's a great way to begin the day. But not only that, it sends my husband down memory lane. There's something about Frank Sinatra in the morning that reminds him of his childhood. The villa next door was leased by an American family. On beautiful mornings when the windows were all open, the sound of the radio drifted over from next door - Frank Sinatra joined them for breakfast. But better than that, it was the signal that breakfast would soon be over and the American kids from next door, Bobby, Butchy and Chrissy, would soon be sent out to play. My husband's childhood playmates.... I wonder what happened to them...

Life's hectic at the moment

The house is finally getting painted. The work started a few days ago and is going smoothly. I'm too busy with that and a million other things to post anything at the moment. You'll have to be patient and wait for me to have time to tell you about my latest adventures.

An emotionally charged day

I'm deeply saddened by the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi that resulted in the death of the American ambassador, and other staff members as well as ten Libyans. My condolances to all their family members and friends. All of Libya is grieving. Dismay just isn't a strong enough word to describe how I felt upon hearing the news.We spent the day watching the news, keeping up with twitter and facebook, and listening to the sound of drones overhead. In the evening my husband and I took a long walk around the farm, about five kilometres. Drones buzzed above us while in the distance we could hear gunfire from time to time - possibly a wedding? When we came inside we watched the vote count for the new prime minister. At one point they stopped because someone had put two names on the ballot instead of one. After an argument they started the count over. Exciting to watch, it was a close count! Mustafa Abushagour, Libya's first democratically elected prime minister won b…


I'm still going through re-entry depression. I'd tell you about it, but I'd just end up making you feel depressed or probably angry because I don't have anything nice to say about Libya.  So I won't fill you in on the details... doesn't that make you happy?

I've got a list a mile long of things that need to be done and I'm checking things off the list as I can manage to do things. As usual everything takes a lot more time than I had hoped.

I'm making some progress with my garden and planted lots and lots of flower seeds that I brought back with me from home. Now I just have to be patient while they decide to germinate and grow. I also brought home magnolia seeds... I've never had any luck with them in the past and so I'm trying once again. I spoke to a horticulturist when I was home that told me that magnolias are extremely difficult to grow from seed and I should just buy a tree... unfortunately, I couldn't find one that would fit in a…

I'm back

Trying to get things done, but as usual I'm getting the Libyan 'a bit later' or 'come back tomorrow' or 'it's not ready' or 'the person you need to see is not here' .... mazel, bukra, mish watiah, manash....

Eid al-Fitr 2012

Ramadan ends today. I was blessed to be able to spend it this year with my oldest son and my family in Florida. The month flew by for me and it wasn't very difficult with the exception of being thirsty, but I know that it was extremely difficult for all in Libya as they suffered with high temperatures and constant cuts in electricity. May God except our fasts and reward us.I wonder what next Ramadan will be like? Where I will be? What will be happening in the world?For all who celebrate, I wish you a safe, peaceful and blessed Eid! .... Eid mubarak!

Looking Forward

I'm wrapping things up and planning my trip back to Libya. Packing up and doing last minute things. Ramadan is almost over. I've enjoyed spending it with my son and also sharing iftar (fast breaking meals) with family and friends. Next week my mother will be celebrating her 77th birthday, so that's something to plan for and look forward to. What do I have to look forward to in Libya? They've been having rolling blackouts throughout the country - and this being the hottest part of the year with temperatures over a hundred degrees F most of the time. My family tell me the power is out a few hours every day and it is expected to get worse, not better. I've been told that there are a few casualties in my garden. And the kids will be getting ready to begin a new school year. I'll have plenty to keep me busy.... but not until I get over jet lag... I am not looking forward to that!

subtle reflections

Picture taken in Tampa, Florida.

Getting into Ramadan

Ramadan is nearly half way over, it seems like it's only begun. Everyday I log on to the Internet and turn on the messenger to chat with my family in Libya and to see what my girls are cooking up for the fast breaking meal and we usually chat again after they've broken their fast. Of course, with the time difference I still have six more hours until the sun sets.

My son Adam had especially requested that I spend Ramadan with him in the United States this year. For the past few years he's been fasting alone. With his work and study schedule it's difficult for him to participate in local activities in the area's mosques. He's got to be at work by 5:30 in the morning, so there are no late nights for him. We've been breaking our fast with my family and friends, who incidentally aren't Muslim, and I think they're enjoying the food.
In the past I'd written an article about Ramadan in Libya and posted it on my blog. This year I've noticed a some …


It's Ramadan and I'm still here in Florida with my oldest son at my mom's house, while my husband and kids are at home in Libya. We had Libyan soup the first four days of Ramadan for nostalgia's sake - my son was happy as he hadn't had it in so long. But four days of that is enough! Tonight we'll go out to eat... we have coupons for Steak 'n Shake
I'm really getting spoiled here, food is easy to make, restaurants are everywhere, the choices at the supermarket are amazing. But aside from food is the Internet. Yes, the Internet. Lightening speed - click on something and there you are. Yesterday I downloaded a 2G file that took about 10 minutes. And there is free WiFi almost everywhere you go here. 
In contrast, Libya Herald had a recent article that stated that Libyan Internet was the slowest in the world. That is, when you even have Internet! A few weeks ago my kid's wimax account got hacked... someone took over their user name and password. They …

A week's worth

There's been more excitement in Libya (voting and elections) than in my life in Florida. Libya even made the front page of the local newspaper one day ... three exciting paragraphs! This is what I've been up to...

Adam and I went to watch the Tampa Bay Rays play against the New York Yankees. Baseball usually isn't my thing, but going to games is fun because there is more than baseball going on. We had a great time.

My mother and I spent some time shopping for furniture. She wants a new dining room table. We saw one she liked but we're still going to look around some more. The showroom was fabulous. I thought the palm trees were funny. Power recliner chairs... we need those in Libya!

The Fourth of July was quite nice. We had some family and a few friends over for a simple meal.... I found some really nice smoked beef sausages that we threw on the grill with the chicken, three kinds of potato salad, coleslaw, fruit salad, pasta, chips and dip. Unfortunately, someone for…

Voting was easy for most people

My anal retentive hubby took FOREVER at the polling station.... he had to make sure the ink on his finger was perfect. :-OCongratulations Libya!!!


Maybe one day there will be drive thru shawarma in Libya.

Weathered the storm and had a wedding

Tropical storm Debby kept us sitting inside for a few days. There were fierce winds and it rained and poured and rained and poured some more. There were flood warnings and tornado warnings, but we were safe inside. We watched the weather reports on TV, and sat on the back porch and watched the rain pour down and the trees bend in the wind. I didn't sleep well at night because the rain pelted against the house and the window next to my bed, the winds howled and  I waited for a tornado to sweep the house away with us inside. But in the end the storm blew over, the winds died down and the sun came out. 
One day we braved the storm to go to the doctor for my mother's follow up appointment - it was good news! What a relief! After the storm passed we took a drive around the area. Lots of tree branches had been broken off, a few trees pulled out of the ground, tossed aside as though they were tumbleweeds. There wasn't any flooding in our area, so we headed for the beach and watch…

An update on beach safety in Libya

It's summer again in the northern hemisphere, and time once again for another one of my summer safety posts. Actually I was reminded of this when I spoke to my daughter the other day. She mentioned that my husband was attending the funeral of one of my sister-in-law's nephews who had died tragically by drowning.   Another life lost, maybe one that could have been saved.
So many people are injured and lives are lost each summer as the lure of Libya's beautiful coastline attracts beach-goers. Nearly every year I've made a post about beach safety.  One year I posted about the dangers of jellyfish encounters and what to do if you get caught up in their tentacles. Another year I posted a link on how to recognize the real signs of someone drowning
In 2008 I posted about how to survive a riptide: here and here, resulting in a barrage of comments (many of which were unpublishable!) because I mentioned how so many Libyans didn't know how to swim. The purpose of the post …

Chilling Out

Mom's home from the hospital (again). We're hanging out together, watching TV, reading the newspaper and looking out the window at the clouds and rain. She's getting bored and thinking up reasons why we should go out. All of a sudden it's imperative that she get an oil change for her car and she needs to buy paper cups at Sam's Club. .... She's not going anywhere.... I'm not letting her. It's time to recuperate, rest, and relax.

I've been watching Libya's news. How disappointing to see that some idiots from Tarhouna surrounded the airport a few days after I left. I got out of there in time! The situation is back under control but British Airways has stopped all their flights - so now I am stuck here which I'm looking at as good news for me. And then there are the idiots that thought it would be a good idea to bomb the US Consulate in Benghazi. These are probably the same retards that are complaining that they're unemployed because the f…

Adjusting to civilization

I'm getting through jetlag, time zone change, and adjusting to the humidity. I'm sitting with my mom in the recovery room. All's well so far. Hopefully she will be discharged later today.

I ate real ice-cream, and graham crackers, and I drank real milk. Oh my God... real milk! How on earth did I ever drink that stuff they have in Libya? I'll need to figure out the remote control. My mom's cat isn't sure what to think of me. He sits outside on the ledge of the kitchen window looking in at me... who is this woman?

Hurricane season began today. It's raining outside.

It's so good to be home.
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Halfway there

I left Tripoli yesterday. My flight was an hour late and there was a huge argument going on in the departure lounge. I flew to Tunis on a flight that had lots of sick old people going for medical treatment. The old lady sitting next to me spent the entire flight burping and belching. She never puked but she certainly made me feel queezy.. ugghh...
The flight from Tunis to London was fantastic. The seat next to me was empty and the man on the aisle seat didn't belch, burp or fart even once!
Today I'm on the last leg of my journey. If all goes well I'll make it home in time to spend time with my mom before she goes in hospital for surgery tomorrow.
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Some Future Plans

I'll be having a break soon... I keep telling myself that, but I keep tacking on another week or a few days. I really need a break, I know I do... but I really like work too. Therefore, I've planned to do some work on my break!
One of the things I have planned for when I have a bit of free time is to reorganise things in my online life. I'm going to purge 'friends' that aren't friends on Facebook. I'm going to unsubscribe from groups that I never look at... why oh why does Facebook allow people to add you to groups? They should just send you an invite that you can decline. I find myself in a mad scramble, rushing to log-in to Facebook to unsubscribe before I end up with hundreds of notifications and silly comments in my email inbox. I've already uninstalled Facebook's desktop program... jeesh! What an intrusion! Do I need to be notified when someone liked one of my comments... especially one where I just typed in 'LOL!" or something just a…

A Poem... for Libya

Two weeks after the February 17th uprising began in Libya I visited a good friend. We talked about what was going on and she confided that she'd been inspired to write a poem. She retrieved the paper that she'd written the poem and read it to me and then put the paper carefully away. Later, after I had gone home, she hid the poem, secreting it away so well that she forgot where she put it. Recently she came across it again and rewrote it for me, presenting it to me as a gift, rolled into a scroll and tied with a thin, red satin ribbon. She gave me permission to publish it here on my blog.

I find it especially moving - she had written the poem during the first week and a half of the uprising. There is so much hope in the words, a hope for freedom and democracy for Libya. I hope that those Libyans who read the poem will remember to register to vote - it's so very, very important.

The poem has no title...

From the mountain tops Across the valleys From the seaside beaches Across…

Feeling human

The internet is back on again... life is good...

A Basic Human Right

I'm a disgruntled LTT customer. Their service is horrible and I am fed up to here and then some. Because of where I live I am stuck with having only Wimax available... which is pretty sad considering I'm only about a 20 minute drive to the centre of Tripoli, and just five minutes away from the university. Who is to blame? Those who ran things in the past, or the present?

I haven't had internet service for the past four days. Sometimes the little icon indicator says there is service (when there really isn't), but mostly the little icon shows up with a yellow triangle with an exclamation point inside it. I've paid 30 dinars for NOTHING!

What pisses me off is that sometimes the internet service works... and I can happily get on with Skyping my family and friends, checking my email and reading the news. But then all of a sudden there is no service what-so-ever... nothing.. nada.. Now NO SERVICE is lasting for days on end. I feel cheated and frustrated, especially as o…

It's time

I'm wrapping things up so I can take a much needed break. Next month there are supposed to be elections in Libya and quite honestly I think this is gonna be a good time to 'get the heck outa Dodge'. Let them get on with it... without me. But of course before that can happen there will be major drama in my house. Sigh... you'd think I was asking to take a trip to the moon. It's been three years since I've been 'home'. I guess that's once in a blue moon. ... Mr Full Moon.... sigh....

Some pictures to share

Once in a while I look at the photos that my husband has on his mobile phone. I found a few that were interesting so I thought I'd share them with you. 
The first few are pictures of my husband's aunt's home in the heart of Suk Juma. She lives in a very old house that was built by the Turks during the Ottoman Empire. The house has an open-air central courtyard surrounded by rooms and living areas. The picture below is the view of the courtyard looking out of my husband's aunt's room. She says that when she got married she came to live in this room. All her children were born in the room and she hopes to live out her last breath in the same room. 

Below is the central courtyard. Notice the symbols to ward off the evil eye!

One of the doorways. The house is in it's original form. The family are very proud of this house and keep up with the maintenance.

This is the main entrance of the house. The walls throughout the house are over a foot thick. The ceilings are …