Showing posts from 2013

The past 12 months - Recapping 2013

Here's a recap of my world, 2013...

 My single post for January was about the weather... as usual it was a rainy January and I spent quite a bit of time in the car, traversing on very bad roads.

The month began with a post about a historical landmark near Tarhouna.  Later on in the month I posted about a childhood remembrance. There was Libyan Revolution Day to get happy about, and fun times with my son Ibrahim. We waited for Nora's exam results to come out while we devised plans to scare off marriage proposals.

An anniversary this month - 24 years in Libya which is nearly half my life! I enjoyed springtime in my garden and tried (in vain) to buy the most exquisite lamp I had yet to see in Libya.

A big milestone for my daughter Sara - braces! After some dust storms that were so bad they closed down the airport I spent time cleaning up in my garden.

We went hiking in the mountains on a dusty day, but still had a good time anyway. There was some dram…

Libya's Running on Empty

Tripoli is suffering from a gas crisis this week... it seems ridiculous as Libya is an oil producing country. My tank was on empty yesterday, but my son managed to get me 20 litres of gas from someone who drove all the way to Khoms (a 2 hours drive away). I'm hoping that it will last me until the gas crises is over and I can fill up my tank again.

Looking on the bright side... I have an excuse to do nothing and be nowhere... I'm going to relax and enjoy reading a book - the weather report says rain tomorrow. I see a nice warm blanket in my future.

Libya Hurra! ... Libya Free!

It’s almost the end of the year. Usually at this time of the year I look back at old posts and recap my year’s events. This year I haven’t posted very often. Not because there hasn't been anything to write about, but simply because nowadays writing about events happening around me might not be a very bright idea.
A great deal has been happening in Libya over the past year, and I've had quite a few interesting adventures here, but posting these days is risky, especially if you are expressing any kind of opinion because there is always someone who just might not agree with your views and take offence – and that doesn't necessarily mean they will just make a comment.  In this year alone, there have been reports in Libya of journalists being kidnapped, shot at, and even killed. The head of one of Tripoli’s local radio stations was found shot to death recently. You don’t even have to be part of the media to be a target.  This past week an American teacher was shot and killed i…


I took this picture this afternoon. The weather was perfect, but it wasn't an enjoyable day. We could hear gunfire and explosions in the distance. In Tripoli, after the Friday prayers, demonstrators gathered, singing the national anthem and chanting 'Libya'. They marched and demanded that the militias leave the city. The militias opened fire upon them. Various reports of injured and killed - the casualty lists grew throughout the day. 

As the sun set and we could still hear fighting and heavy artillery coming from the city. Later in the evening the Prime Minister gave a televised address which didn't go over very well and was later followed by a second address. Still the shooting continues. There is talk of a general strike and the launch of a civil disobedience campaign until the militias leave. 
It's been more than two years since the end of the revolution, but has Libya really been liberated? Oh Libyans! Put down your weapons and embrace one another... then you…

Back again

I'm back and over jet-lag. Nothing changed while I was away except for the addition of a few new potholes in the roads.

I'm doing a Fall clean out - it's amazing how much 'stuff' accumulates. I've been rearranging furniture and I bought a carload of new plants to replace the ones in the house that had seen better days. The old plants are in rehab, hopefully they will recover.

Yesterday the rains started. The roads are flooded and the kids couldn't get to school this morning. They're enjoying a day off. Maybe I can put them to work... the kitchen cabinets need to be sorted out...

I'll post some pictures from my holiday soon. It was a great 6 weeks!

Still at home...

I've been enjoying spending time with my family in Florida. My son Yusef thinks we should be spending everyday at an amusement park (isn't that what Florida is all about), but who can afford that? Relaxing on the back porch, a walk along the beach, window shopping at the mall, communing with nature at the park are so much nicer in my opinion. 
The end of my holiday is approaching and soon I'll be trying to figure out how on earth I will fit everything into the suitcases. I'm going to spend every moment I have busy with family and friends, but... stay tuned because there will be an interesting guest post on my blog soon. 


I'm back 'home' visiting my family and son in Florida for a while. Time to catch my breath and relax for a change, time to spend with family and friends.The weeks up to my trip were filled with work and gettting things done around the house. We had a small house fire in the bathroom caused by an electrical short in the lighting of the bathroom mirror (most likely the result of a power surge). The damage was mostly from smoke and required a lot of cleaning. My husband cut his foot on broken glass from the mirror when he ran into the bathroom. It could have been a lot worse! We counted our blessings as we cleaned up the mess.  For weeks and weeks there have been power outages all over Tripoli and the surrounding area and to top that off the water in the capitol was cut off. Thankfully, we have well water at my house, but it caused a huge amount of problems for many people. The water came back on two days after I left. I hope they get the electricity and water situation sorte…

How's life?..... About the same.

No improvement in sight... but you can't see much in the dark, can you?

Making Predictions

I've been counting down the days until my vacation. Time seems to be going slowly and quickly at the same time. There is so much that needs to be wrapped up that my days are filled without much time to breathe. I have a list a mile long of all that needs to be done. Unfortunately, we've been having frequent power cuts and that isn't  helping me accomplish as much as I need to. In my neighbourhood we're having daily power outages that last four to six hours at a time. I head off to work and find there is no electricity there either. Often times I go out to run errands and find the shops, banks, and offices haven't got electricity either. Many companies and private individuals have invested in generators, but even so, Libya is slowing to crawl. It's the hottest part of the year with over 100F(40C) temperatures. Everyone is hot, grumpy and complaining. 
If I'm at home I usually just give in, go to bed, read a book, take a nap, relax and wait it out. If it'…

Making plans

Last summer when I was visiting my mother I promised her that I'd be back the next year. It's almost time to start packing. I'm excited!

Back to school soon in Libya - I'm excited!

Ramadan and Eid are over and people have started to get back to their regular schedules. In a few weeks the new school year will begin. This year it's supposed to start on September 1st. Even though it's right around the corner the shops haven't started the big school supply and uniform displays - maybe next week. I want to get all of that shopping out of the way as soon as possible so I plan on getting as much of the stocking up done this weekend. Uniforms will have to come later when we can find them.
The beginning of the school year is an exciting time. Kids will go back and see all their old friends, get new books and supplies, new teachers. But not all children in Libya will face an ideal learning environment. Schools in Libya leave a lot to be desired, even in the capital. Let's just talk about the buildings and facilities themselves: dirty classrooms, many without electricity (Yes! Even in the capital!), broken desks, boards and even windows in the classrooms. …

Is the holiday over yet?

Another Ramadan and Eid are over. The time flew by this year. Now we have to get back to a 'normal' schedule again. 
I got up early this morning and found the girls still awake watching TV... they hadn't slept all night long! Now I suppose they will sleep all day. Soon enough they will start complaining that they never get to go anywhere and that they are tired of staying in the house. To which I will respond "Get out of bed in the morning if you want to get things done or go someplace!" It doesn't help that it's summer holidays and they don't HAVE to be anywhere. 
Oh to be young and free to sleep all day..... 

Eid Wishes!

Wishing all who celebrate a very safe and happy Eid.

A Very Important Guest Post

In the past I've had a few guest posts. Today is another guest, a very dear friend of mine with an important message to the foreign wives of Libyans and also to any Libyans facing issues of inheritance and property rights. She asks that you read her message and pass it on to others in the hopes that her situation will change and other wives of Libyans will not suffer the same fate that she is. Below is her post and includes a video made by her husband. The video is partly in English and partly in Arabic. I'm afraid it's not subtitled, any translations would be appreciated in the comments. Thanks. UPDATED: Translation added below the video.

I am Susan Sandover married into the Libyan family Shkuka. My husband and I had been married 33 years and had lived a loving, happy life together we were a real team. Last September my husband was diagnosed with lung cancer and in March had pneumonia. At t…

Some good news about the future of Libyan health care

Well here's some news: This week the Health Minister, Nuridine Doughman, made a statement at a press conference admitting that some of Libya's hospitals "were not fit for use by human beings".  A contract has been awarded to British company, International Hospital Group (IHG) to build new hospitals and reform old ones. Story: here
This is going to take quite some time and a huge amount of money to accomplish, but they have to start someplace. It's a step in the right direction, I hope. It's good to have some positive news for a change!
Over the years I've had many experiences with the Libyan medical system. All six of my children were born here and some of the kids have had surgery here -  as well as myself. There have been some positive experiences, and some horror stories. I've posted some of them on my blog in the past. Have a look at the links: Where is this? #16OK... It's my turn now...YusefAnother dayYusef in the hospitalSlowly RecoveringA n…

Disturbing the Peace(?)

I had been planning to take the kids out shopping this weekend, but we're staying home because of widespread protests and keeping away from any violence sparked by protests following theassassination of an activist in Benghazi. I saw this online recently: There are reports that early this morning (approx. 06:00Hrs) the airport road, and roads in Gergaresh and Gurji were closed by burning road blocks. Furthermore, the offices of the Muslim Brotherhood were attacked by protestors in the Ben Ashour and Ras Hassan Districts. Protesters in the Abu Salim District have been seen carrying small arms weapons. It is reported that some protesters are now making their way towards the Qatar Embassy. The protest are reported to be non-violent currently, but, as always, the potential for violence remains.
Reports are indicating that protest are taking place in the following areas: Tripoli, Benghazi, Zintan, Tobruk, Ajdabiya, al Marj, al Bayda, Jalu.
I guess we will put off our shopping tr…

A Gaggle of Geese

We were driving home the other day and came across some geese crossing the road.... a gaggle of geese. The geese made it safely across the road and Nora snapped a picture.

Later I wondered about the term 'gaggle' and looked it up on the internet. A gaggle refers to a group of geese, usually more than five together that are not in flight. Groups of geese can also be called a flock, a plump, a skein, a  team, or a wedge. Actually there is a huge list of collective nouns here: Collective Nouns I'm glad I came across the list... it's interesting and a bit peculiar.

Progressing through a Libyan Ramadan

We're getting through Ramadan. It's almost halfway over with an so far it's been pretty good. I've been so busy that the days seem to fly by rather quickly. But it's not been without it's trials, namely the daily power cuts that are annoying and seem to happen right when you really need to use something that runs on electricity. Also take into account the daytime temperatures have been 40C (over 100F) or close to it.

For God's sake! This has been going on for years now, surely they should have the power sorted out! I have given up trying to believe the stories the officials tell as to why we are still having power outages. Lately we have been having our fast breaking meal in the garden so that we can see what we're eating as it seems that they frequently shut off the power around sunset. In a way it's kind of pleasant as the air is fairly cool and there is a bit of a breeze, the bats are flitting about and the owls are just coming out for the start…

Adjusting to Ramadan

We're adjusting to Ramadan in my house. A different time schedule, different times to eat. And there is the electricity to deal with. The announced that there would be no power cuts during Ramadan... as soon as they announced it the electricity went off. It's been on and off for the last few days. Usually when it's on, the power is so weak that the lights are dim and the air conditioner is all but useless. Hopefully they will sort it out.... but I'm not really that optimistic!
Meanwhile, I've come down with a head cold. Pounding headache, stopped up nose, runny, watery eyes and a fever.... which is miserable enough as it is, but remember the power keeps going off and the air conditioner is barely there. Mostly I stay in bed with a box of kleenex next to me, dozing and waiting for sunset. I did manage to get up yesterday and make a casserole, but I've been relying on the girls to help out. 
It doesn't matter whether we have power or not, or if I have a cold…

Ramadan wishes

Wishing a peaceful and blessed Ramadan to all who celebrate.  Ramadan Karim!

Ramadan Preparations Underway

Ramadan is right around the corner, less than a week away. I've been stocking up the house with basic foodstuffs, spices and buying new dishes to replace some that we've broken this past last year. There is always a big last minute rush to get things done.

In a recent post I wrote about wanting a BBQ grill that I had seen. I went back to the shop but it was gone. The shopkeeper said he might get some more in about 10 days. I will have to check back sometime soon.

When we built our house we added a small room off the terrace to be made into a kitchenette. It's still just a small tiled room. This week I bought a small stove/oven and a kitchen sink. I'm leaving it up to my husband to get the sink installed. He'll also have a piece of marble or granite cut to make a counter-top... and have it installed as well.Maybe... maybe... it will get done so we can use the kitchen this year??? Maybe....

I noticed that the International Capture the Spirit of Ramadan Photo Contest

Life's annoyances in Libya

It's house fly season in Libya. No matter what you do the house seems full of these awful bugs. And they are annoying - dive bombing your head, buzzing around your ears, doing their best to get into your eyes. 
As the weather warms up so does all the garbage that litters the streets around town and this encourages the proliferation of the little beasts. There is also the fruit that fills the trees in the farm lands, overripe fruit drops to the ground and provides the perfect breeding grounds. No matter how hard we try to keep the windows and doors tightly shut we are still plagued by the swarms. It's the time of year I dread.

We've tried fly traps but that just attracted more flies! And we've tried fly paper strips - those long curly, gluey strips you hang around.... they only work if the flies land on them and they are unsightly and there is always the chance that someone will get tangled up in one... a big sticky mess! What seems to work the best is turning all the l…

A 5-minute Adventure

Whenever the receptionist at work steps out for five minutes you can bet that there will be a constant stream of visitors. Today a man walked in looking distraught. He started in on a story about his family being outside in the car and he needed to get something but he needed 20 dinars to pay for it "It's important - this is an emergency. My wife and kids are waiting outside in the car". He opened his vest and pulled out his family book and said he would leave his family book with me and come back with the 20 dinars. I decided to give him 2 dinars and see if he'd take that and leave. 
He shook his head and said "No! No! Wallahi (I swear to Allah), I only want to borrow 20 dinars. I will give you my family book and come back with the money. It's an emergency. My wife and children are outside" he again opened his vest and took out his family book to show me. This time I noticed that I could see through the lining in his vest pocket and sitting there plai…

Beach weather

Yesterday was the longest day of the year. In the morning the girls and I, along with our good friend Sally, had a leisurely picnic breakfast at a picnic area near the sea. It was lovely, the breeze beautiful - perfect weather.
Afterwards we went down to the beach to have a look - the usual garbage everywhere with Libyans happily sitting in the filth. Plastic bags and dirty diapers floating in the water along with the swimmers who seemed totally oblivious. What on earth is the matter with these people?
NOTE: For those of my readers who will complain and say I'm being negative about Libyans... please go down to the beach and have a look yourself... but please remove your blinders first!
I think my daughter took some pictures. I'll ask her if I can post some.

Just around the corner

Ramadan is just around the corner. That means it's the big mad rush to get everything ready. I'm not in the mood this year. But I did see a nice big gas grill in one of the shops... it had a rather expensive price tag and another tag that said Walmart on it. We could do with cooking out this Ramadan... grilled chicken, hamburgers, shish kabobs,  steak.... easy quick meals that will go great with the 30 days of Libyan soup. With my luck I'll go back to the shop and find the grill gone, but I'll look this weekend.

The Libyan Waiting Room

I'm waiting
Waiting for the situation to improve
It's turning into a longer wait
Than I ever expected
But I guess I'll wait
A little while longerThere are plenty of chairs in this waiting room
And room enough for everyone
All that's required
Is patience

A quiet morning surprise

I woke up early this morning to a quiet house and looked outside the window...everything was white. There was a heavy fog. I made myself some breakfast and put it on a tray and headed outside to sit on the front porch and eat breakfast while I watched the sun come out and burn off the fog.
The past few days my husband has been busy building a bird-feeder and I was delighted to see he had finished it last night (after I had gone to bed) and set it up in the front garden where I could watch it from my chair on the porch. I hope he makes a few more. 

Ideas anyone?

What would YOUlike me to write about?
Let me know by telling me in a comment.

Duty calls...

I arrived home after a busy day. I put down my bags and went to see what the kids were doing in the TV room. The television was blasting a Turkish soap opera and everyone was staring, not at the TV, but at their phones, tablets or laptops. Sara looked up and said 'You need to visit Maima (my mother in-law) because she broke her foot.''When did this happen?' I asked. 'My cousin said she woke up in the morning and her foot was broken.'  It didn't seem plausible that you could wake up in the morning to discover you had a broken foot and I said so to the kids. But Sara said she had heard that Maima had dropped a pot on her foot not long ago - so maybe that was what happened. I went outside in the garden to find my husband and ask him what was going on with his mother. He said that he had seen her the other day and she was fine. 'Let me take a shower and change and we'll go over to see her' I suggested.
Customs in Libya require that you don't sh…

A drink of inspiration

I stopped at the supermarket yesterday and picked up some different kinds of herbal tea.  One of the herbal teas is verbena... it's supposed to be calming, which is perfect to drink while I sit in the new lounge chair. Oh, did I forget to mention that I bought myself a lounge chair for my front porch?
According to wikipedia verbena has some other useful aspects... "In the Modern Era, it is sometimes considered a powerful "ally" of poets and writers, as its relaxing effects can relieve writer's block." 
So look out... I might be inspired to post more often.

Two trees

I spent yesterday with family and friends - a picnic and a hike.The day started out dusty, but it rained a bit while we were hiking and the air cleared some. There hasn't been much rain this year and everything is really dry. I'm expecting a very hot and dusty summer. 

Finding some respite in my garden

I've been feeling depressed lately. Events in Libya (the French Embassy bombing among other things) are enough to make anyone here feel depressed, but the weather hasn't helped as we've had days of sandstorms and dust so bad that it even closed down the airport for a while. I had a busy week too, but I woke up this morning and decided to tackle the dusty house.... but first I had a look around my garden to see how things fared through the dusty, windy hot weather.
The morning glories are glorious as usual. Nothing seems to get them down! 

My succulents all seem to be thriving this year. Purslane seems to be growing in almost all of the potted plants. It's edible and many Libyans cook it in a tomato based sauce and eat it with bread or rice... it tastes similar to spinach. Nutrition facts about purslane: here

More cacti and purslane.

We've been trying to xeriscape as much as possible which means we are choosing plants that need as little irrigation as possible. So …

A Milestone for Sara

So much to do this weekend, but the exciting thing was Sara's braces. She'll have the bottom ones put on at the next appointment. 

Things that make you go 'Hmmmm'

Libya lacks a lot of things, one of them is customer service which drives me crazy sometimes. I wrote a post once in 2006 about my shopping experiences: here. Nothing much has really changed since then. Maybe I should look at it as kind of a challenge - but there are days when I really don't feel up to the challenge. 
Two weeks ago when I was on my way to pick up my son from school I popped into a shop that sells lighting and electrical supplies to buy a few light-bulbs  While I was in there I saw the most exquisite lamp hanging behind the counter right next to the cash register. It was gorgeous - I was mesmerized! I asked the little old man that ran the shop how much it cost and he said 'We just got that. We haven't put a price on it yet'. This is something that happens quite often in Libya. The shopkeepers usually don't even bother to try to check the price for you either and I find it so annoying. I left the shop with my light-bulbs and decided it just wasn'…

Finally have some time to enjoy spring

I've been busy the past few weeks, but I am finally finding some time to settle down and enjoy my garden. The rose bush next to my front door is covered in huge blooms and the garden is full of daisies. 

One of the cacti in the front garden is in bloom too - it's covered with very odd looking flowers.

We've been having typical March weather this year - all four seasons in one day. I never know what to wear when I get up in the morning.  But overall, the weather is warming up and I'm predicting that we'll have a very hot summer here. So I'm going to go out and enjoy my garden while the weather is good and spring is here....

I need to get a swing for my front porch...

One more year

Today's an anniversary for me.... I've been living in Libya for 24 years. In another year and it will be a quarter of a century!

.... that's a long time.

Waiting for the results...

My daughter Nora finished her final exams at university. If she's passed everything then she will graduate. We're waiting for the results. This year the students at Libyan universities are being given a stipend - I think it's to help pay for their needs while they study. Nora decided to save it all and pay for an ICDL - computer course - she started this week. I'm really proud of her - she's made a good decision to work on her professional development. She's also looking into applying to do a master's degree. 
Meanwhile, it seems that everyone thinks that since she is finished with university that she is now on the marriage market and plenty of those who believe in arranged marriage are calling. I'm not sure why they would even think that my daughter would be interested in an arranged marriage in the first place, but this  custom is pretty common in this part of the world. Believe it or not we have had people approach us because they feel they know eve…

A day with my baby boy - yes! he'll always be my baby!

Ibrahim and I spent the day together. He got new shoes and a pair of jeans. But the best part was pizza... yeah! 

Notice from the picture that Libya is still using soda cans with pull tabs.... they stopped using those in the United States in 1977 and in the UK in 1989. Someone needs to tell them that it's 2013 now.... sigh...

Two years on...

Wishing Libyans near and far the very best on this day....

Happy Libyan Revolution Day!


Isn't it funny how sometimes when you hear a song it reminds you of a past event in your life. Or how certain smells make you think of your past, even something specific. Recently I bought some face soap and as I raised my bubble filled palms to my face I was immediately taken back to when I was very young..... 

When I was about four or five years-old, tiny little dolls called Liddle Kiddles were all the rage. There were all kinds of these little dolls, doing different things. One type were scented and came inside of plastic 'perfume bottles' that opened up so you could store the doll inside for safe keeping. There are about nine different dolls, each with it's own scent. 
I remember shopping at Toy's R Us with my mom and my sisters and when we got to the aisle with the dolls on display I was riveted to the spot. My mom agreed that I could have one and I chose 'Lily of the Valley' because my mother had some of the flowers planted under the kitchen window an…