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Showing posts from 2014

All good ideas

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Number 2..... I'm really working on getting a grasp on number 2...

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 …

Rainy with a Chance Power Cuts

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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…

Glorious Winter

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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.

Making the best of it all

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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.




You can do whatever you want in Libya

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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 con…

Positive Things Do Happen in Libya

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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. 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…

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…

A Decade of Blogging in Libya

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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…

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)

Libyan Logic

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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…

A very important update

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About a year ago, last August in fact, I had a guest post on my blog (A very important guest post) written by Susan Sandover, who is a good friend, mentor and colleague of mine. She wrote an important post regarding inheritance rights in Libya and all the trials and tribulations that she had been going through to get her rightful dues. 
Recently I was checking out my site statistics and discovered that her post is one of the  most popular ones on my blog. To date it's been read an impressive 5,316 times. I emailed Susie and told her about the popularity of her post. She was delighted  as it meant that hopefully people have read and may have taken some of the precautions that she had so urgently written about. 
Susie is still struggling to get her inheritance. She still has yet to receive even one cent of her husband's pension of which she is owed. She struggles through each day to earn a living and make ends meet. Susie asked me if she could post an update. 'Of course!' …

Libyan Ice Bucket Challenge

I'd do the ice bucket challenge but unfortunately the electricity isn't on long enough for the water to freeze.... so I will just take my regular warm shower.... I nominate everyone in Libya to do the same...and you should all be grateful that I'm not posting a video of me in the shower!

Facing the Brutal Reality

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The  constant power cuts combined with the hot weather have made life simply miserable. In twenty-four hours our electricity was on for only two. When the power is off during the day you barely have enough energy to do anything more than lay there lethargically waiting for the power to turn back on. Then when it does turn on there is a mad dash to try to get as much done as possible. A friend of mine lamented that she had slept all day long as she hadn't enough energy to do anything in the oppressive heat, but by nightfall the power  was still off so she spent the entire night wide awake in the darkness, unable to accomplish anything. There are still lines for gasoline and cooking gas. According to the news they hope the shortages will be solved soon by the arrival of a tanker in the harbor. We've been through these shortages in the past, unfortunately the same senario keeps repeating. You would think that they would have it figured out by now. Many people complain and say it&…

Libyan Semantics

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I've noticed that in the last few days that many of the news reports have been changing the way they refer to Libya. Where there had once been clashes the term civil war is being used. The social networking sites are full of images of the burning fuel tanks that have been hit/targeted in the fighting. So without further ado.... here's a photo I took:

Nalut, Voted One of the Most Beautiful Places for Mountain Bikers

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First my news... 
On Thursday morning my husband said to me "Don't even think about going out today. There's trouble expected and you don't need to get caught up in the middle of it." So I've been hanging out at home for the last two days. Actually Tripoli seems a lot quieter these past two days than it has been lately - for a few days the house was vibrating, windows shaking and doors rattling with what seemed like non-stop explosions of heavy weaponry in the distance - even though it was about 20 kilometers away it was still frightening. Now it is quiet and has that eerie 'before the storm' kind of feeling. Maybe, hopefully, it will all blow over and we can go back to our 'normal' lives here. It's amazing what you start to consider as normal!
Miraculously the internet has been working for the last few days. So of course time has been spent checking all the social networking sites to see what, if anything, is happening in Tripoli. There&#…

Almost to the halfway mark

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We're getting through the second week of Ramadan. Here's our news:
Ibrahim is bored and that means he's picking on everyone and causing trouble. How much longer until school starts again? Nora's been working from home because her employer says the security situation is too unstable at the moment for employees to go to the office.Yusef's miserable because he's craving cigarettes which in turn is making everyone miserable. Ramadan and cigarettes don't go well together.Jenna sleeps all day. The life of a teenager!Sara's inventing new dishes and trying out recipes she's found on the internet or seen on TV- thank God there's one cook in the house. I used to be an enthusiastic cook, but when you are forced to feed 7 or 8 people everyday cooking becomes more of a chore than a pleasant pastime. Hubby's grumpy and depressed - he's been watching too many Libyan news channels.Me, I'm fine. We're into the second week of Ramadan and I'm u…

My news and two links about Libya

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I haven't been able to update my blog for a while because my chair has been hijacked! Sandy has taken over my spot in front of the computer. Today I had to push her off the chair so I could sit down and she immediately jumped up on the desk and stood up on top of the keyboard.

I'm taking things easy this Ramadan. I've cut way back on my work hours , and I'm mostly chilling out at home - chilling out! It's been pretty hot these days, one day last week it was 45C (113F), but as long as there is electricity there is air conditioning and when the power goes out I lay down and read a book and take a nap.
Sadly, we still have an electricity situation here... last week I read in the news that one area of Ainzara had no power for 44 hours. Thank God it wasn't my area! Also, there are still lines for petrol, they're a bit shorter but a line is a line - a waited almost 2 hours one day last week and about a half an hour a few days ago. My internet was out for five da…

Driving Down the Highway in Libya

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In the mornings I drive my daughter to work which almost always involves some kind of adventure as the way there includes having to drive down the main highway. Nearly every day we pass accidents, many of them very serious ones. There are always trucks carrying heavy loads, often precariously and hazardously balanced. I try to stay far away from trucks, not just because of the danger that the goods they are carrying could fall or fly out the top (and they often do), but mostly because the truck drivers drive dangerously fast, swerving in and out of traffic.
Yesterday we noticed a yellow truck hurtling at breakneck speeds down the highway. We could see that it had a load of something hanging out the top and as we got closer we noticed it was a truck full of people. It's so sad to see how unskilled workers are treated here. No thoughts at all for anyone's safety. My daughter took pictures:






Maybe tomorrow

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Ramadan is about two weeks away. Normally by this time or year I have stocked up on everything I need to get us through the month (apart from fresh veggies and fruit). Not this year... I've had just enough gasoline in my car to get me back and forth to work every day. We've used up our reserve jerry-cans that we'd been saving up.  No side trips around town... not a chance.

Maybe tomorrow we'll be able to get some fuel? I keep saying that. It's frustrating because I have a long list of things to do, and none of them are getting done. The gasoline situation feels like a bad sit-com rerun - the first time you laugh and after that it isn't so funny anymore. I'm not going to sit in the lines, it's too dangerous. When I run out of gas I will just stay home.

What is more, the electricity has been going on and off again, but so far not for more than 2 hours at a time. A few weeks ago the Minister of Electricity announced that it was prepared for summer. We…

Almost Summer in Libya

The kids are in the middle of final exams. They'll finish next week and then it's a whole exciting summer ahead. I've noticed for the past few years that final exams always seem to coincide with a crisis at the gas stations and this year is no different than the last.
One evening this week my husband tried to fill up, only to find eight of the nearest gas stations closed. Of course he wasted precious petrol driving around to look for an open station. My car was nearly on empty and I was doing what I could to preserve the petrol I had - I'd stopped using the ac and made sure to turn off the car if I had to wait for any length of time. Yesterday in the morning and afternoon there were long lines and I didn't have time to wait, but last night I found the lines were a bit shorter and pulled up to the back of the line. 
It was actually a double line and for the most part it seemed to be moving quite quickly. That is, until a bunch of young boys (about 20 of them) arriv…

Plodding along...

I've been doing a bit of traveling for work lately. My travels aren't taking me very far away - just in the Maghreb, but it's been enlightening.

On a visit to our next door neighbour,Tunisia, I discovered that the capital has become rather messy with overgrown public gardens and trash strewn about everywhere. There were hardly any tourists to be found, but the people seemed optimistic. They haven't lost all hope.

It's hard to leave Libya and then come back again. Hard to go to nearby countries and not compare. There's a lot of work to be done....


Making Predictions

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The weather is heating up - it's dusty and hot and the flies are increasing in number. We closed up the house switched on the air conditioning  for the first time yesterday, but we've been using the ac in the car for over a month. Outside, I noticed that the fields are starting to turn brown, the springtime wildflowers are almost gone. 
The kids will finish school in a few weeks and as a result there will be less traffic on the roads for which I will be very grateful! I think we are all tired of sitting in traffic jams and worrying about whether or not we'll have enough gasoline to get back and forth to work and school.  
From time to time there have been long lines at the gas stations - usually sparked by rumors that demonstrators in Zawia have closed off the supply routes. Today I filled my tank in about 5 minutes, but a few weeks ago I waited in line for over two hours. Now I just make sure to stay topped up. 

Libya has subsidized gasoline - miraculously, this allows m…

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

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There isn't much going on in my world these days apart from going to work and then going home. Most days I go directly home and I make sure I get there before the sun sets. 
Around town: This past week there was a bit of trouble with some people wanting to impose a general strike, but Tripolitanians weren't really interested. The result was that some of the major roads in the capital were blocked in an attempt to cause chaos and force people to join the strike that Benghazi seemed to be embracing. It wasn't very successful in Tripoli - it just turned parts of the city into traffic jams. For the most part, I think people just want to go to work and get on with life. A strike isn't going to do much of anything to solving the myriad of life's troubles in Libya. As for me, I continued life as usual and just made sure to avoid the areas where the roads were blocked. Some problems seem to happen after dark, and thankfully I'm home then. 
When I'm home:I'm busy…

Love thy neighbour....

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Earlier this month I made a post about the terrible conditions of the roads caused by heavy rains. I included a picture of the road near my house that was washed out. No one's bothered to repair the road - we're still having rain from time to time.

Unfortunately, someone decided that the hole in the road was the perfect place to dump their rubbish... So now we don't just have a hole in the road... WE HAVE A FREAKING EYESORE!




To whichever neighbour of mine did this... I wish you all the best.... grrrrr.....

Optimism - Pessimism... Positive - Negative... Libya

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Spring has sprung! As usual for this time of year the weather is unpredictable. Yesterday it was warm and sunny and I sat outside in the garden last night in short sleeves. During the night the wind picked up and I woke up to cool and cloudy. It doesn't matter though because I can see spring around me everywhere: Wildflowers are blooming, butterflies are fluttering about and the neighbour's flock of sheep is dotted with tiny lambs on wobbly legs. 


As optimistic as spring makes me want to feel it's not easy to be positive here in Libya. My rose-coloured glasses are picking up the happy sights of spring, but that is about all they are seeing. Reality hits when each morning and afternoon I check out the news services to see what's going on... ugh! The prime minister was sacked, the airport was bombed and flights cancelled and suspended, reports of assassinations and kidnappings and bomb attacks and on and on and on.... a seemingly endless list of negative, negative, nega…

The road's a bit bumpy

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I'm really starting to hate driving lately. The rain that we've been having lately has made the roads a mess. And the drivers are getting crazier too. There are days when I leave the house in the morning that I wonder if I'll make it home. This a picture of part of the road that's washed away on the dirt road near my house. On another road nearby is a sinkhole large enough to fit about 4 cars. I'd post more pictures, but I'm afraid to take my hands off the steering wheel! It's not just the roads that are a bit bumpy here these days.... life in general is a bit bumpy. .. I'll post an update soon.

Inspiring some optimism

“May Light always surround you;
Hope kindle and rebound you.
May your Hurts turn to Healing;
Your Heart embrace Feeling.
May Wounds become Wisdom;
Every Kindness a Prism.
May Laughter infect you;
Your Passion resurrect you.
May Goodness inspire 
your Deepest Desires.
Through all that you Reach For, 
May your arms Never Tire.” 
                                                                        ― D. Simone

Have you smiled yet today?

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It's almost half way through January and I'm finally getting around to posting my New Year's resolution:

Make someone smile and laugh every day.
That's easier said than done as most people around me here in Libya are pretty depressed.. Everyone I meet tells me they are unhappy with the way things are turning out.  Pessimism prevails, I hear the phrase 'sinking ship' frequently - I think I've even used it myself a time or two. It's hard to be upbeat and optimistic. Maybe they should start putting anti-depressants in the bread supply. Meanwhile, I will try my best to honor my New Year's resolution.