Saturday, December 26, 2015

Wrapping up the year...

It's been a slow year on my blog, but here's the roundup for 2015:

January  - was the Thumps Up(sp) Award for 2015 and the wrap up of 2014

February - The kids had a school holiday, power cuts, gasoline shortages and flour was also short. The good news was that Tripoli remained quiet and the rains brought the beginning of spring wildflowers.

March - I spent time in the garden and time reading. I wrote a review of a book about an American family that lived in Libya during the 1950s, setting up what was to become Tripoli University's Agriculture Department. I also reviewed the weblog of a Libyan poetess. 

I skipped over April and posted in May - The kids were getting ready for final exams and I promised an update of our adventures.

In June  I posted a panoramic photo of a peaceful looking Tripoli. On my site stats I can see that lots of people have clicked on the photo to have a better look.

July - Ramadan ended and I tried to predict what the murky future would be.

Just one post in August  that was a reminder to put things in perspective. 

In September  I headed out of Libya, time to visit my family back home in Florida.

In October  I settled into the peace of my mom's back yard, and life without the stresses of daily life in Libya. 

November found me sorting out paperwork, getting a driver's licence and decided what to do about my kids, school and other commitments. 

Now it is December. Another year is almost over. I watch the news about Libya from this side of the world. There's been the signing of a unity agreement which many people think might lead to a third government. The price of food and other goods is continuing to rise in Libya where people are still suffering from power cuts  as well as shortages of medicines and other essentials of daily life. Fighting continues in some parts of the country and the threat of ISIS doesn't seem to be going away either. We all hope and pray that Libya finds peace. Meanwhile, I'm still here in Florida for the time being taking care of my aging mother, watching the news from afar.  

Best wishes for a peaceful 2016! 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

One more thing off the To Do List

The past few weeks I've been getting bits and pieces of paperwork done. For the last week I've been working on getting a new drivers license. It required making appointments, a few trips to the DMV (Dept of Motor Vehicles) and studying the driver's handbook. I also was required to take a 4-hour online test which I could have done in a lot less time, but it was intentionally timed to make sure you spent the full 4 hours.

The final day came for the actual driving test. I was using my mother's car which is an older model mini-van that is all computerized. Unfortunately the circuit boards sometimes work and sometimes don't - so sometimes the right front blinker works and sometimes it doesn't!

After going through all the paperwork with the DMV employee we headed out to the parking lot. First he did an inspection of the car and of course the stupid blinker wasn't working so he said, "I'm sorry I can't give you the test unless the car passes inspection." I pointed out that I could do the test using hand signals. He looked incredulous and asked if I knew them, so I put my left arm up "Right!" then put my arm straight out "Left!" and then put my arm down "Stop!" He laughed and said "OK!". We got in the car and off we went. The examiner made sure that I made a lot of right turns. We laughed at every turn.

After the test we went back into the building to complete the paperwork - I passed! The examiner said that it was the first time he had ever given an exam with someone doing hand signals because no one ever knows them. I told him "Hand signals are nothing. I've been living in a war zone. I can dodge bullets when I drive!"

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger! 


Saturday, November 14, 2015

The slowest year ever...

This has been my slowest blogging year in all the years I've been blogging. It's isn't because I am losing interest or being lazy. This year has been difficult and depressing. Life in Libya has continued to be a challenge. The thought of writing blog post after blog post of the same news..... issues with electricity, gasoline, cooking gas, internet connectivity, the hunt for bread and medicines.... the general lack of basic services. It's all the same old negative Libyan news. Someone (who has been living away from Libya for over 40 years) recently complained to me that I haven't got anything positive to say or write about. Well, I'm sorry, there is very little if anything that is positive to say!

This summer it was time to go home - home meaning Florida to take a break from Libya and spend time with my family. Mom needs me now, she's 80 and suffering from numerous health issues. Next month she'll have eye surgery so that hopefully she will regain some of her vision and be able to see clearly again. She can barely walk, has had over 20 stents put in the arteries in her legs, diabetes, hypertension, stage 3 kidney disease, COPD, hearing loss and some dementia just to name of some of her maladies. She needs me now, so I'm staying to help out. 

Meanwhile, some of the kids are returning to Libya to finish up university and school. Although people complain about the education system in Libya, university graduates can still go on to do their post graduate studies elsewhere. If they stayed with me in Florida they would have to start all over from scratch... what a waste of time that would be. 

I feel kind of like a refugee.... externally displaced and separated from my husband, children and home in Libya. I'm making the most of it though. Apart from spending quality time with my mom I've been doing some professional development; working with a literacy program, tutoring immigrants and also working at the local college's admissions test center and doing some online courses. Hopefully I will learn something and bring my knowledge back to Libya to share.  I've also been doing a bit of travelling, visiting friends, museums, festivals, the beach... There's also my mom's garden to sort out when I have a few moments to spare.... and maybe I'll start blogging again... about the positive things happening. 

Below are some photos, click for a larger image.
The Rainbow River, near Dunnellon, Florida

A sign at the beach 5 minutes away from my mom's house. 

A glorious Florida sunset, Madeira Beach, Florida

Part of the extensive butterfly collection at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

In a pine forest in the middle of nowhere, Taylor County, Florida.
My mother watching the kids at Rainbow River. 

Monday, October 05, 2015

Some observations

Mom thought it was still May today and was surprised when I told her it was October.

The background soundtracks on TV programs and films make it impossible for my mother to hear the dialog. There is no way to fix that unfortunately. Consequently, the volume is turned up very loud most of the time and we shout a lot.

Mom's recently been diagnosed with macular degeneration, so on top of the rest of her health problems she's losing her sight. She can no longer read the newspaper and is having difficulty using her iPad.

Having non-stop electricity, Internet and phone service is so nice.

My mother's back yard is peaceful. I haven't heard any explosions or gunfire since I got here.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Long Overdue

It's time for a break from the Failed State, I'm heading towards the Sunshine State,
So tired of living with so much hate,
Tomorrow I'll be sitting at the flight gate.

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

Future

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!