Wednesday, June 1st, 2011
It's hard to believe that it's June. And that all this has been going on since February. When will this end?
The weather was very windy today. Strong cold wind. We stayed inside and watched TV and I read a book. At sunset I sat outside on the front porch reading my book with a kitten curled up in my lap. With such strong winds blowing and the sky so full of clouds I figured NATO would be kept at bay. I went in at ten o'clock and got ready for bed.
After midnight we heard planes and then huge explosions. There were at least ten explosions, but with the clouds and wind outside we couldn't tell where the bombs had landed - someplace in Tripoli. Of course the news on TV just says 'someplace in Tripoli' so we turned off the TV and went back to bed.
Thursday, June 2nd, 2011
It was still windy when we got up today; we had a thunderstorm in the morning but it quickly blew over. But the rain settled the sand and though it was still a bit windy the weather had turned warmer and the sun came out.
Sara has been reading my cookbooks. She found a nice Lebanese bread recipe in a book that one of my students had given me. She spent the morning baking bread that turned out so wonderful we decided to put it on our list of favourites.
In the afternoon I went grocery shopping with my husband. Shopping is really getting depressing. The stores' shelves contain less and less. There were only two kinds of pasta left (both kinds we don't like), there was plenty of cheese (thank God because we LOVE cheese), there were all kinds of cleaning supplies and soap available (we'll all smell clean when Kadafy's thugs come to rape and plunder - see below).
On the way home we stopped along the road where people are selling vegetables, fruit, eggs and live chickens. I stayed in the car while my husband got out to make the purchases. While I was waiting, a car pulled up alongside me. The driver opened his door and proceeded to masturbate in front of me. 'Oh lovely!' I thought 'I've got entertainment while I wait'. I pretended that I didn't see what was happening.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time such a thing has happened to me. Such behavior is not uncommon in Libya. Incidents such as this are seldom reported because women are afraid to report such crimes. It's really sickening. But I noticed that this guy had parked his car in such a way that I could see the numbers on his license plate. I rummaged around in my bag and pulled out my phone in order to use the camera to take a picture (I planned to make a police report). As I pulled out the phone my husband arrived laden down with the bags of vegetables and the guy promptly shut the car door and took off. I wish I had memorized the number of the license plate. Better luck next time... and there will most likely be a next time.... sigh.... weirdoes...
As we were turning into our road my phone rang. It was my sister-in-law calling to tell me she was coming over for a visit and would be there shortly. When we got home I put on a pot of tea and made sure our dogs were under control. The last thing I needed was for my sister-in-law or her kids to get bitten.
She arrived, visibly upset. I asked her what was wrong and she exclaimed 'Kadafy's troops are coming out tonight to raid farms and houses! They're going to look to see if people are hiding any of the opposition, steal our money and gold and rape the girls! Bait bait! Dar dar! Cupboard cupboard! Just like he'd said. We are all doomed!' I asked her where she had heard this from and she said that her husband had heard people talking about it. I told her to calm down. 'We're a long way off from the main road. We'd hear anyone coming long before they got here. And the dogs would make a meal out of them.'
Uuugh! Just what I needed was a hysterical sister-in-law. I told her 'When they get to my house they have to get past the dogs first. And then what? Gold? They'd have to find it. Money - they can try the bank just like we do. Girls - yes I've got three of those but they'll have had enough warning and be hiding. And aside from all of that, they'd have to get past me first - and I'm not the type that gets hysterical'. and I added 'There is no point in jumping around screaming "Wook! Wook!"'
For some reason, the majority of Libyan women when faced with danger, pain, or any situation they find difficult, jump around screaming "Wook! Wook! Wook alayah wook!" . I never could figure it out. What good does it do to get hysterical? I behave just the oposite. Whenever I'm faced with a serious problem I become very quiet while I calmly assess the situation.
My sister-in-law drank her tea while she worried about all the things they were going to do to her. I think she was trying to weigh what was worse - losing her gold, her money or getting raped. 'Why don't you bury your gold and money someplace on the farm?' I suggested. 'They won't be able to dig up the whole farm in the dark.' She looked at me with big eyes 'But what if they rape me?' she asked. 'You'd hear them coming before they got there and you'd have time to hide' I said. She quickly finished her tea and said she was going home. She gathered up her kids and I saw her to the door. I said goodbye while holding back three growling dogs.
I sat back down and poured myself another cup of tea. I think that was the first time I'd ever had a conversation with her that wasn't about house cleaning or idle gossip. How interesting!
There are some reports of Kadafy's forces invading homes in and around Tripoli. It is very possible that it could happen to any of us. My sister-in-law acted as though it was the first time she'd ever thought that such a thing could happen, and that it could happen to her or someone she knew. I'd thought about this scenario being played out long ago and I have a plan. Well, actually, I have more than a plan. One thing I have learnt about living in Libya is that you must never limit yourself to 'Plan A'. You must always have a 'Plan B' and 'Plan C' too.
After the sun set I sat out on the front porch with my book. I heard some gunfire in the distance, in the vicinity of an army compound to the southeast of us. At first it was just a few gunshots but soon the sounds escalated into what sounded like a battle. There were some small explosions and the machinegun fire lasted about half an hour. Here I was, safe on my front porch, wondering if lives were being lost just a little over a mile away from me. Later, around midnight, NATO's planes dropped their bombs in and around the capital. Then all was quiet and we went to bed.
Friday, June 3rd, 2011
It was a quiet Friday.
Libyan cuisine for lunch.
A walk on the farm to pick apricots and figs.
Time spent in the garden.
A bit of TV news,
and a book to read.
Saturday, June 4th, 2011
We had a quiet night - no air raids to be heard so we had a peaceful night's sleep.
I spent the morning gardening, cleaning, doing laundry and cooking lunch. After lunch we picked figs for dessert, eating them under the trees.
I finished the book 'Handle with Care' by Jodi Picoult and have started Nicholas Sparks' 'A Walk to Remember'. Neither of these books is very heavy, but I'm not sure I can deal with anything more than light reading these days. It's hard to concentrate.
A huge explosion around six thirty in the evening to the east of us and then it was quiet. We don't usually get bombed at that time of the day. The rest of the evening and night was quiet.
Sunday, June 5th, 2011
This is the 15th week without internet in Libya. That's nearly four months. I wonder if my email account is accessible or not. Has it been closed due to lack of activity? We still have limited mobile phone service which enables me to speak with family and friends locally and abroad. But I miss the internet not just for being able to be in constant contact with friends and family, but for the ability to research. Every day I come across something that I'd like to know a little more about - it would be so nice to be able to just Google whatever I needed to know... sigh..
I think I found a book that will keep me entertained for a while, something I can sink my teeth into. 'At Home' by Bill Bryson. It's about the history of houses and things you find in your home, common everyday ordinary things. The same author has also written a book about language titled 'Mother Tongue' which unfortunately, I don't have and will have to wait until the internet comes back on to get it. I do have another of his books called 'A short history of everything' so maybe I will read that next.
I highly recommend an e-reader for anyone who travels. Having one has really made life bearable for me during these months without internet. Some of my friends here have been stuck reading whatever printed material they manage to have in their personal libraries or borrow books from others which is often difficult to do if you have no gasoline to get to a friend's house to poke around the books they have on their shelves. But I am able to browse through well over a thousand books that I have downloaded over the past year. Books that I thought I would never find time to read. I've read nearly fifty books so far. Hopefully this will be over before I run out of books!
NATO's planes flew over all morning, dropping bombs to the east and south of us. It's really unusual to have air raids around Tripoli in the morning and daylight hours. NATO had become so predictable that we could almost set our watches by the timing of their air raids. Now it seems their strategies are changing.
On the news reports yesterday they said the rebel fighters were in Bir Ayad which is actually quite close to Tripoli. It's a little over an hour's drive away, maybe an hour and a half - depending on how fast you drive. I've marked it on our map. For a long time the post-it arrows didn't seem to be moving, but now I've had to change the markers nearly every day as the fighting gets closer and the opposition gains more ground.
We are deeply concerned that there will be urban warfare in Tripoli - hand to hand fighting that will probably make the battle for Misurata look like a picnic. My husband and I discussed the possibility of me taking the kids to Tunisia and leaving him behind to look after the house. Such a quandary... to go or to stay? By itself, the trip to the border is dangerous. How much longer will this last? Will we continue to be safe in our house in the countryside that surrounds the capital? Should we go to Tunisia and wait there? Or should we keep going until we're in my childhood home in America? After 22 years here I feel a part of this place. I want to stay and witness history. I want to be here when Libya is set free. So I guess that means I'm staying.
In the afternoon I sat on the porch. NATO planes bombed almost continuously in the south. We could hear the planes flying overhead, heading toward the mountains and then we'd hear explosions far in the distance. Sometimes the only indication that there had been a bomb was a slight rattling of the window panes and the dogs would begin to bark. Then the planes would head back north, flying overhead.
At night there was an air raid very close to us. The planes screamed overhead and dropped bombs on a military installation that is less than two miles away. The sky lit up bright orange and then we heard the explosion. The sound was deafening. We could see what appeared to be rockets or metal spiraling upwards into the air. Moments later there was a second round of bombings. The sky was on fire. It was terrifying to witness. Even the dogs began to cry.
It took a long time for me to fall asleep, and then I tossed and turned all night long.
Monday, June 6th, 2011
A hot, windy, dusty day. Sara and I went out to get some medicine from the pharmacy and pick up Nora from the university on the way home. We cooked lunch and had a nap. In the evening my sister-in-law came over with her children. We usually sit outside and let the children play in the garden, but to weather was so bad that we stayed inside and chatted while the kids watched cartoons.
Planes overhead for much of the day, dropping bombs. The windows rattled and the house shook. At first we just carried on as though nothing was going on outside, trying to cope as best we could. By nightfall the air raids were closer to us and were impossible to ignore. NATO bombed the same place (less than 2 miles away from us) that they hit the night before and it was equally terrifying. It was another long night full of nightmares and weird dreams.
Tuesday, June 7th, 2011
The weather is still hot and dusty. It had rained during the night so it was humid too but the wind has settled.
Nora had an exam so I drove her to the university. We drove past the army camp that's located next to the university and noticed that there was only one car parked there. Army personnel used to park inside the camp but after it got bombed a few times everyone started parking outside. Today, a lone car was parked next to the entrance. Had everyone taken the bus to work? Or has the place been abandoned? I hoped the latter. I dropped Nora off at the university gate and went home. No sooner had I parked my car than the air raids began. One bomb after another, the target seemed to be Bab-Al-Azizia. I prayed that they wouldn't bomb the army camp next to the university.
All day long bombs dropped, one after another. Tripoli took a serious pounding from NATO. We wondered what could possibly be left to bomb. I cooked a scrumptious lunch amid the rattling and shaking and afterwards closed myself in my bedroom, lowered the shutters and turned on the air conditioning, put a pillow over my head to try to block out the bombardment and promptly fell asleep. I was exhausted, so much so that I fell into a deep sleep. I woke up a few hours later and went outside in the garden to listen to the continued air raids. If it was this bad during the day, would it be worse after dark? Could it be?
Some of my husband's nieces and a nephew arrived to spend some time with us. The kids are so happy to have their cousins here. The girls spent the evening making pizzas and Nora made two trays of coconut macaroons. The whole time they were singing 'Ya beladi! Ya beladi!' the pre-Kadafy national anthem that is being used once again in Benghazi by the opposition. I had to tell them to quiet down a few times because they were loud enough for the neighbours to hear - and who knew what side the neighbours were on.
The TV played an audio recording of an address by Kadafy. He said he was not going to surrender and he would defeat his enemies. When dark fell we heard explosions coming from the city centre, this time is wasn't bombs but fireworks to celebrate the leader's defiant speech. No one seems to know where he is - he hasn't made any public appearances. We heard that he hides out in the hospitals, surrounding himself with human shields.... what a coward... sigh.
We went to bed around midnight but were awakened just after two in the morning. More bombing by NATO. After the explosions our electricity went out and we spent the night with the windows open, fighting off the mosquitoes and tossing and turning in the heat. The day had been hot and the night not much cooler. The power supply returned after about eight hours.
Wednesday, June 8th, 2011
Finally the electricity came back on. I headed straight for the shower to wash off the night and stripped the bed of the sweat soaked sheets. I expect that there will be more power outages in the coming days. Libya's electric turbines run on oil. Gasoline is running out and the oil supply to power the turbines will go next. The weather is only going to get hotter and we'll be running the air conditioners non-stop. If the power shuts down we are going to be miserable.
We heard some explosions throughout the day, but nothing like yesterday. Once in a while the house would shake but I kept myself busy in the kitchen cooking a big lunch for the kids and their cousins: Rice pilaf, Libyan tabikha with chicken, carrot and purslane, potato tagine and a salad. The girls cleaned the kitchen afterwards and baked a cake to have with their tea later in the garden.
Thursday, June 9th, 2011
We had a mostly peaceful day with only a few explosions. After it got dark the people on a neighbouring farm went wild with their guns - shooting at anything and nothing. My sister-in-law, who lives closer to them, says they sing and chant pro-Kadafy slogans nearly all night long. Uggh... We've noticed quite a bit of activity over there the past few days. Maybe they know their time is coming to an end soon and they want to make the most of it.
Friday, June 10th, 2011
We were woken a few times in the night by explosions but we rolled over and went back to sleep. In the morning we slept in and had a late breakfast.
From time to time during the day we heard planes and explosions. After we ate lunch two nearby army camps were hit, the missiles screaming in from offshore. The closer one, a little over a mile away, burned for hours and hours with dark black smoke rising into the air. It's always very frightening when it's an offshore missile strike because you have very little warning - just a loud scream as the missile goes by and then a huge BOOM when it reaches its destination - all happening in just seconds. At least with an air raid the planes are circling overhead while you mentally prepare yourself for the inevitable explosion(s) to happen.
In the late afternoon my sister-in-law came by and we went out in the orchard and sat under the trees (and watched the cloud of thick black smoke on the horizon). We stayed there until nightfall while we watched the kids run and play.
Saturday, June 11th, 2011
Last night was uneventful. We got up early and had breakfast on the front porch. Then we spent the morning gardening and enjoying the warm sunshine.
The number of cousins visiting was growing. We had a houseful. Yesterday afternoon while I was taking a shower I heard a weird noise. Wop, wop, wop, wop.... the kids were laughing, squealing and giggling. wop, wop, wop... the house was shaking. I got out of the bathroom and got dressed, the noise and laughing continuing the entire time. None of the kids were inside. They were all out in the garden. When I got outside I discovered that they had hung two rope swings from the top of the pergola over the tiled terrace that connects the house with the guestroom next to the garage.
Now, you need to remember that my kids aren't small anymore - they are all teenagers (and older), so you can imagine what two teenagers swinging from a pergola must sound (and look) like. 'What on earth are you doing?!!!' I shouted. ‘Take those swings down right now! Someone is going to fall and you will do damage to my house! I'm NOT taking anyone to the hospital! If you get hurt you are on your own!' They ignored me and didn't stop until my husband intervened. Uuuugh.... I think they are trying to give me a nervous breakdown. But the kids are having a great time. These will be times that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
I finished a book titled 'The House at Sugar Beach'. It's the memoirs of Liberian born journalist Helene Cooper and covers the history of Liberia. I couldn't put it down until I finished it. Today I started a book by Jane Hamilton called 'When Madeline was Young'. I'm on page 55 and I'm still waiting for it to get interesting. This always seems to happen to books that are read directly after a really good one.
All but one of the cousins left in the afternoon and Sara decided to go with to visit her grandmother. Jenna was thrilled and announced 'Sara's gone! I have my own room now.' She's always wanted her own room, but I reminded her that Sara was only going to be gone for a few days. The house seems so quiet now.
After the kids left I took advantage of the quiet to give myself a pedicure on the front porch. I soaked my feet in hot scented water for about an hour while I listened to NATO air raids. One attack was on a military camp to the west of us, clouds of smoke drifted eastward and the air smelled faintly of burning rubber. My husband came outside to look and said 'There might be people over there dying and you are enjoying yourself, soaking your feet.' I just looked at him and then said 'Yes, I am.' The bombardment continued to the west of Tripoli and I listened to the planes and explosions from my seat on the front porch. Supposedly there is a battle in the area between Janzour and Zawia so NATO was coming to the aid of the rebel fighters.
Things quieted down after it got dark. I stayed outside, reading on the porch, until about eleven when a swarm of mosquitoes began attacking my arms and legs. Another day gone. Another week over.
Sunday, June 12th, 2011
Yesterday evening Yusef took my car to take one of the dogs to the vet. The dog had an injury sustained in an alpha male dispute. The wound had become infected and needed care. On the way home a hose sprung a leak in the car and Yusef barely made it home. Today Yusef and his father have been bonding (when his father's not yelling at him) while they attempt to repair the car.
I have less than half a tank of gas left and it's being reserved for emergencies. I spoke to a friend today who informed me that her father-in-law has been in line at the gas station for the past ten days and still hasn't been able to get gasoline. This is getting ridiculous. Our electricity was off again for a few hours this morning. I fear it will only get worse.
The road to Tunisia has been closed because of the fighting in and around Zawia. There's no way out of Libya for those that are on this side of the country. This also means that goods brought in from Tunisia can no longer make their way to Tripoli. We've come to rely on Tunisian products; couscous, pasta, shampoo, soap, juice, yogurt and milk as well as medicines and ladies sanitary needs. I wonder how long this will last. All day we heard NATO's planes to the west of us and sometimes overhead too, explosions far off in the distance.
For the most part it was quiet over Tripoli today. Planes flew over from time to time but the only explosions we heard were far away. In the evening I called some of my students who live in cities and towns outside of Tripoli. I wasn't able to get any calls through to anyone in Garian. I hope they are safe there.
Monday, June 13th, 2011
Nora had two exams today but there was a two and a half hour break in between. She came home with her friend and had lunch and then I drove them back to the university for their second exam. She has an exam every day this week. We're running out of gasoline. I hope it lasts long enough for her to be able to complete her exams.
After I dropped the girls off at university I went grocery shopping. I stocked up on dried beans, popcorn and spices. I also got something the Libyans call 'karkadeh' which I think is some kind of dried hibiscus flower. We used to buy it in the 1990s when juice was almost non-existent and/or extremely expensive. A handful of the dried flowers are boiled in water, strained and then sugar is added to taste and then served cold like juice. I haven't had any since I was pregnant with Ibrahim (he's 12 now).
Hilary Clinton addressed the African Union today, asking them to convince Kadafy to step down. He has repeatedly announced that he has no intention of stepping down. How much more time are they going to waste? It's beyond negotiations.
We only heard three explosions in quick succession in the early afternoon. I'm not sure what the target was. I was inside the house and when I went outside I couldn't see any smoke. The rest of the day was quiet.
At night when I sit outside on the porch I can hear trucks moving about near the military camps that are nearby. I suspect they are moving equipment when any witnesses are off the roads. They must think NATO's surveillance can't spot their activity. I'm waiting.... NATO will get them soon enough.
I've been trying to call my son in America for days. The calls would go through but he wouldn't answer. This evening I called my mother to see what was up. She said Adam was upset because they were having their dog, Fee, put down tomorrow.
Fee had belonged to my brother and had been a kind of mascot to my brother and his friends. She was always along for the ride, a fixture in all my brother's escapades, fishing trips, disc golfing, and whatever else my brother was up to. When my brother passed away Fee moved into my mother's house, where Adam helped my mother care for her. She's sixteen years old, which is quite a long life for a dog, and has been suffering with various ailments for the past few years.
My mother has made arrangements for the vet to come to the house because poor Fee is too feeble to make the trip to the office. The vet will euthanize her at home. Afterwards they've invited some of my brother's friends over to help bury Fee and they'll sprinkle my brother's ashes along with her. My brother would have liked that, I think. Poor Adam has had a lot to deal with these days... and my mother too.... sigh... Its times like this that I feel awful being stuck here on the other side of the world.
Tuesday, June 14th, 2011
Last night just after midnight we heard gunfire coming from the direction of one of the nearby military camps, or it could possibly have been at the checkpoint near the camp. For quite a while there was also the sound of men shouting and dogs barking in the distance. It lasted for over an hour and then the rest of the night was quiet.
We've been hearing reports that Kadafy's troops are doing house-to-house searches, looking for opposition fighters, and gold and cash (and possibly raping women and girls). Some people have said they have been searching in areas of Zanata, Suk Juma, Arada and Ain Zarah. My husband and I have been going over Plan A, B and C. We need to be ready, just in case.
There hadn't been many planes flying over today, but in the evening before sunset we saw a drone heading south. And then it circled back and forth. We kept track of it for about an hour. Drones sound different than the fighters and they fly slower too. It was high up but we could see it, especially when it was silhouetted against the clouds. Usually the planes fly so high that you can't see them.
After dark NATO's planes arrived and spent time flying back and forth. Then it got quiet for a bit but soon they returned. They hit the camp nearby that had been moving things about the past few nights. NATO's planes struck repeatedly. A huge fire lit the air and thick smoke poured into the night sky. We could hear the roar of the flames and artillery exploding for well over an hour. Strangely, we weren't terrified, maybe because we had been expecting this airstrike. Obviously they had been storing weapons on the site. How many more munitions are hidden around Libya?
There were a few more airstrikes later in the night after we went to bed but for the most part it remained quiet.
Wednesday, June 15th, 2011
It was a warm sunshiny day. I did laundry and took a shower. I put my hair up in rollers and relaxed in the garden. In the afternoon I visited my sister-in-law. We sat outside under the trees in the orchard and watched the kids play.
There was a total eclipse of the moon this evening. The moon slowly slipped into shadow. What was left of the moon turned a golden orange. Bit by bit darkness overtook the moon. I watched with my binoculars as the moon slowly turned from golden to grey. After a while a bright white sliver of moon began to appear. Slowly, slowly it showed it's full white face, glowing in the sky. A splendid show. Subhan'allah!
We went to bed only to be woken near dawn when NATO bombed the target from the night before.
Thursday, June 16th, 2011
'Ramadan is only six weeks away.' I said to my husband. 'We need to stock up now on food to see us through. We have to shop while we have gasoline to get us to the shops. There might not be food left in the shops soon, and what's left will be very expensive.' He sighed and asked 'What do we need?' He looked at the long list and said 'OK. Let's go.' and off we went.
We'll need a few days to get all the things on the list, but we did pretty good today. My target is to only have to buy fruits and vegetables during Ramadan. The first shop we went to was the one that sells spices. It was packed full of people who were all stocking up just like we were.
I hope that the 'jamiah' or co-operative that sells subsidized food will have rice, flour, oil, tomato paste and pasta - if not we will have to buy it on the open market at high prices. But no matter what the cost, we will have to buy food and we'll have to do it this week, or next at the latest. We've ordered meat from the butcher's. I'm going to make beef jerky in case the electricity goes off. With careful planning we will be able to make it through the month.
The supermarket that I usually shop at was badly damaged by two successive night's bombings. We drove past on our way this morning. The entire front of the supermarket was damaged, the green shutters had been blown inward from the pressure of the explosions, and shattered glass littered the ground. The shop's owner was standing in front assessing the damage as we drove by. The bakery next to the supermarket suffered damage as well. All the windows in the nearby buildings had been blown out by the force of the explosions. Across the street, the bombed out military camp still had pockets of fire, wisps of acrid smelling smoke drifted through the air. The roofs had been blown off of the buildings that were visible from the road. Twisted metal was strewn about. But the road had been cleared of debris and cars were able to continue safely on their way.
Lawless, Libya has become lawless. No one pays the least attention to traffic laws in Libya as a rule, but now it's worse than ever. The red light means nothing - most people slow down a bit and then continue on through the intersection. They know that no one will stop them. Along our way today we passed two men fighting on the side of the road with knives. 'Oh my God! Look at those men! A knife fight!' I exclaimed. As my husband slowed the car down to look I said 'No! Don't stop! Keep going! Keep going!' he continued on. And everyone else driving on the road continued on too. No one is held accountable for their actions. Everyone is out for themselves.
After the night prayer NATO bombed an area to the west of us. The planes sounded different, they made a low roaring sound as they passed overhead. The bombs were different too; a flash of white light followed a few seconds later by a deep low rumble of the explosion. Then smoke plumes reached out into the night sky. The planes left as quickly as they arrived and the night became quiet. We sat outside in the garden under the bright full moon, listening to the war.
Friday, June 17th, 2011
It's my oldest son's birthday today. Twenty-two years ago he was born in Salahudin Hospital in Tripoli. Happy Birthday Adam!
This morning NATO's planes returned to bomb the same site they hit last night. We watched as the bombs struck their target followed by billowing clouds of smoke. After a while the planes returned to strike again and again. The rest of the day was quiet.
After sunset we heard explosions in the distance - but no airplanes. It turned out to be fireworks. Apparently Kadafy had issued another audio statement. This time he stated he would not stop his fight against NATO.
OK... NATO. What more do you need to know. It's all there plain as day. It's time for Kadafy to go. He's not going by himself.... I think he needs some assistance.
Saturday, June 18th, 2011
We were startled from our sleep by explosions; about six in quick succession. I stumbled around in the dark using my feet to look for my slippers. I looked at the clock - it was 2:45. Out in the garden I scanned the horizon but couldn't figure out where the bombs had hit so I went back inside and climbed back into bed. I lay there for a while wondering how much longer this would last.
I got up early and did laundry. The sun was bright and the air was still. I knew it was going to be a hot day.
Nora had an exam at one o'clock. I took her to the university and waited in the car for her to finish. It was sunny and hot so I had all the car's windows rolled down which made me feel vulnerable. But there is no way to sit with the car on and the air conditioner running because my gas tank is nearly empty. Young guys with green flags on their fancy cars drove up and down in front of the entrance to the university, political songs blasting from their car stereos - they obviously have no problems getting gasoline. Nora has two more exams and then she will be finished with the semester. I hope our gas holds out that long.
I sat outside in the garden until way past midnight listening to large trucks moving about on the main road. From time to time NATO's planes flew over. There was the sound of an occasional explosion in the distance. It was strange because the explosions were always single explosions that would happen whenever a plane was flying over. But normally when there is an air raid the planes make a different noise - like they are accelerating or something and then will hit each target multiple times. These planes just sounded like they were flying over - they didn’t make the acceleration noise and there were only single explosions. What's up?
Sunday, June 19th, 2011
It's hot and dry today. Very hot and very still. I ate breakfast in the garden and decided that today was a day to stay inside with the air conditioner running.
We watched the Libyan news claiming that a NATO air raid had hit a house in Suk Juma. They had a big propaganda event taking the journalists to see the site, even Mr. Kaim the Prime Minister was at the site. NATO says they are investigating to see if the coordinates of the places they bombed yesterday match the house's coordinates. We'll keep watching the news to see how this plays out.
Since it was so hot today I decided to make a light lunch - vegetable soup and salad. Sara made some garlic bread. While we were busy in the kitchen we heard planes and then an earth trembling explosion. We went outside to find billowing smoke at the same site to the west of us that has been hit twice in the last week. Over the next hour NATO hit the same area repeatedly.
In the evening when the weather cooled off I sat in the garden and read a book. I'm reading 'The Time Traveller's Wife'. What would it be like to travel in time? Would you want to see the future? I think I'd like to go three months ahead. Ramadan would be over and maybe this madness would be over too. But then again it might not be over.... that would be depressing. I guess it's best just to stay in the present and see what the future holds out for us.
Monday, June 20th, 2011
On the news today: NATO says that they may have hit the building with civilians by mistake. They were targeting ground to air missile launchers and they had some kind of equipment failure. I don't wholly blame NATO for this. Weapons are being placed in civilian areas. People are being exploited as human shields. I suspect than many of the farms near where I live are being used to store artillery, making us all potential targets. Is this considered a war crime? A crime against humanity? Or is all fair in 'love' and war?
I called my son in the US today and he informed me that my mother is in the hospital. I got hold of mom to see what was going on and she said they will do a heart catheterization and other tests tomorrow to see what is going on. In the meantime she is resting, watching TV and eating hospital food. My sister, who is a nurse, isn't answering her phone so I will have to wait to get the whole story (in doctorese) from her later.
We're still stocking up for Ramadan. We bought beef to make 'gadeed' or dried jerky and also enough chicken to see us through for a while. There's still more things on the list.
It was fairly quiet today. We didn't hear any explosions and because it was hot we had turned on the air conditioners so the noise of the planes flying over was lessened.
I was in a bad mood most of the day. I'm getting fed up. I told my husband that if it's not over by the end of Ramadan it will be time to head for the US to stay with my family. This self-induced martyrdom is getting to me.
Tuesday, June 21st, 2011
Last night we had a 3:00 AM air raid. The blast blew us about a foot off the bed. I don't know what they were targeting. 'Jeeeesssuus! What the heck was that?' I exclaimed. My husband replied 'Just stay in bed. It doesn't matter.' Within a few minutes we fell back to sleep.
In the morning I got up to find we had no electricity. It was off for a few hours. I got busy and made breakfast the old fashioned way (without a kettle or microwave).
I took Nora to the university for her last exam. While she was inside I waited in the car near the university entrance. While I waited I observed the usual amount of 'bad boys' that were hanging around or driving back and forth. Every other word out of their mouths was a swear word or an insult. There were also the girls in painted on jeans, incredibly high-heeled shoes, a ton of make-up and scarves that covered hair extensions that made them look like they had deformed heads. I'm not sure why they bother with the scarf because everything is clearly evident, nothing has been left to the imagination. They walked up and down, doing their best to chat up the 'bad boys' outside.
I worked on my gadeed in the afternoon, turning the meat to make sure it was drying evenly. The cats have been watching the meat too. They've been trying to figure out how to get some off the line. Nora laughed at me and called me a 'Libyan woman' because I was wearing a cheap house dress that I bought for a few dinars. Making gadeed is a dirty job - the meat is oily and it drips on your clothes. The dress works better than an apron and will be thrown in the trash as soon as the gadeed is finished. There is no point in washing it - it would cost more for the laundry soap than it would cost to replace the dress.
We had a family meeting to discuss the Ramadan garden. We need to plant parsley, tomatoes, peppers, coriander, garlic and onions for a start. Who will dig up the weeds and get the ground ready for planting? All of us, of course. This will keep us busy for a while.
My mother-in-law came over for a visit in the evening. She had been at my brother-in-law's farm next door and walked over to our house, but our dogs got to her before she got to our door. One bit her leg and tore her dress while the others barked and growled at her. She wasn't very happy about her ruined dress - I'll have to replace it and the wound on her leg was superficial (thank God). We gave her strong, sweet Arabic coffee and she put her two-cents in about the garden and the gadeed. Then off she went, back to my brother-in-law's. We held off the dogs so she could make a safe getaway.
I spoke to my mother who said the doctors say her heart is fine. Next they will check out the circulation in her legs. She is getting tired of the hospital. Everyone keeps interrupting her nap (including me).
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011
Zoom... zoom... zoom... NATO flew over nearly all night long. Finally I managed to fall asleep only to be awoken by the phone ringing at three o'clock. It was my sister, the nurse, calling to give me an update on my mother's condition. Her heart is normal for a woman of her age but the circulation in her legs is poor so the doctors will insert stents in the arteries of her legs. They'll do this today. She also said that when she checked my mother's medicine she found that my mother had two months of blood pressure pills that she hadn't taken because she said they were expensive - so she was saving by not taking them. Someone needs to make sure my mother takes her medicine properly... everyone thinks someone else should be responsible for that. Sigh.. siblings! It took me a long time to fall back to sleep.
In the morning I got up late, NATO was still prowling around in the sky above. From time to time I heard explosions but I didn't feel like getting dressed to go outside to see where the bombs were dropping.
All day long I watched the clock and calculated the time difference between Tripoli and Florida. I dialed the phone when it was five in the evening EST and spoke to my mother as she was recovering from having a stent put in. She said the doctor was unable to complete the work because she was under stress so he will work again tomorrow and schedule her for another procedure in a few weeks time.
Nora's birthday is in a few days. I'm trying to think of what we can do to make it a special day.
Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
I finished processing my gadeed (jerky) this morning. Knowing that I have plenty of meat stored away gives me a sense of security. Yesterday my husband came home with a case of pasta. We are stocking up, the list is still pretty long but we are making headway.
We watched the videos on television of the aftermath of the bombing of the house, or compound, in Sormon and the funeral that followed. It is sad that civilians have been killed, but NATO's surveillance photos show that the compound was obviously being used for military purposes (there were 19 satellites on the roof!). It makes me wonder what kind of husband and father Mr. Khuwaildi was that he would use his wife and children as human sheilds. He obviously didn't care at all about their safety but he made a big show to kiss their bodies on camera.
I called my mom and she is home from the hospital. She still needs to rest and take it easy.
We heard explosions far in the distance after it got dark. We're not sure where or what was hit.
Friday, June 24th, 2011
My husband and the boys were busy in the garden this morning. It was my morning to pamper myself; time for a pedicure, soft, smooth feet and light pink toenails... I feel wonderful now.
It was a quiet day. In the evening the girls and I sat under the trees and drank tea with my sister-in-law. The weather was perfect and the sunset was spectacular.
Saturday, June 25th, 2011
Phone call in the morning:
Friend: Hi. How are you?
Me: Fine. What's up with you?
Friend: Not a whole lot. Did you manage to get gas?
Me: No. Tanks on empty.
Friend: Well, I got fifteen litres for you if you want it.
Yeah! Yipee! I'm gonna get some gasoline! Imagine getting excited about 15 litres of gas. The kids have exams coming up and we've been worrying about how to get them to school. We know that we won't have enough gasoline to get them back and forth every day. We were planning on having the kids stay in our apartment in town with someone so that they'd be close enough to walk and then just bring them back home on weekends. But I'd feel so much better if they could come home every day. I don't like the idea of being in town.
I saw on TV today a report that said the oil supply in Libya is dwindling and is expected to last, at the most, eight weeks. After that there will be no electricity. This will coincide with both the hottest part of the year in Libya and the month of fasting, Ramadan. No electricity means no running water, because the water pumps require electricity to run. Water... we need a plan for water. We will have to make sure that the cistern and water tanks are kept full at all times. Without electricity to run the pump we'll have to rig up a rope and pulley system to get water from the well.
I know what living in a water shortage is all about. During the 1990's we had limited water supplies in Tripoli. Our water would turn on for about 45 minutes most afternoons; brackish, salty and undrinkable but we used it to wash ourselves and for cleaning. As soon as the water came on I would begin collecting it in all sorts of containers. Bathing was a well-planned event: ten litres was stored for each adult, five litres for each child. The water was heated and poured into a bucket. A small plastic pitcher was used to pour the water over your body while you stood in a washtub. Not one drop of water was wasted. The bath water that was collected in the washtub was used to flush the toilets. On the days when the water didn't come on I would walk to the mosque down the road and fill up a 20 litre container.
After more than a year of this my husband had a well dug in our garden. This helped but didn't completely solve the problem because the underground water table in Tripoli is quite low and saline, so our water was salty and the well would run dry from time to time. When I look back on those days I wonder why I stayed here... sigh... and here I sit contemplating going through it all over again.
Finally Kadafy's project 'The Great Man-Made River' reached the point in which Tripoli could be supplied with water. But the water is only expected to last at most fifty years. In my opinion, the money would have been better spent on building desalinization plants along Libya's long Mediterranean coastline. At any rate, this doesn't help us as we are living in an area that is not supplied with water. We get our water from a well that we had put in when we began building our house. The people in the area all rely on wells or have tank trucks of water delivered to their homes.
Nora's birthday is tomorrow. I've invited some friends over for the afternoon - that is, if they have enough gasoline to get here. Sara will make cookies this afternoon. I will bake the cake in the morning. What else should we have? Pizza? Chicken Salad sandwiches? Lasagna? I feel like having a feast. We haven't had anything to celebrate in ages.
NATO bombed Tripoli in the early afternoon. We heard planes and then explosions. We aren't sure what their target was; we couldn't see any smoke on the horizon. About an hour later we could hear drones flying over. Maybe they will bomb close to us soon.
After nightfall NATO zoomed back and forth overhead and finally repeatedly bombed an area to the west of us around eleven o'clock.
I spoke to some of my students in the evening. One was detained for four days and then released. He is lucky that he wasn't taken to the front. I told him to stay home and stay safe. Another of my students said her house was robbed. The thieves took her TV, satellite, stove and refrigerator. She worked so hard to buy a piece of land and build a small house on it. It was nearly finished and ready to move in. So upsetting as the house was surely robbed by a neighbour who was watching her coming and going.
Sunday, June 25th, 2011
Nora's birthday today.... 21 years old. She didn't want to celebrate anything, and who could blame her, imagine turning 21 in Libya during a war. But I had invited two friends who lived close by to come with their children and of course, my sister-in-law and her kids from next-door.
Since there aren't any bakeries in Libya I had to make a homemade birthday cake. I poured over my cookbooks to find a recipe that I could make with the ingredients that were available. The cake turned out well; double layer white cake with hazelnut and strawberry jam filling, frosted with chocolate and decorated with strawberry cream. Sara made pizza and cookies and I made chicken salad sandwiches. My friend bought cinnamon rolls. We had iced tea, juice, coffee and mint tea. It was lovely outside on the terrace; the weather was perfect and NATO only bombed once during the party (and that was far away).
Monday, June 27, 2011
Arrest warrants were issued by the International Criminal Court today for Kadafy, his son Saif al-Islam and Abdullah Senussi. This is mostly a symbolic gesture as it's unlikely that they will be taken into custody anytime soon. Also in the news, the African Union is meeting to discuss Libya and they've stated that Kadafy is not involved in any negotiations. Does this mean he doesn't want to be involved, or does it mean that the members of the AU want to negotiate without him? Either way, all this means is that politicians get to travel and have meetings and feel important - nothing is happening here in Libya... the war continues.
Yesterday when I was out getting ingredients for the birthday cake I came upon a new checkpoint in my neighbourhood and today my husband came home and said that there were new checkpoints all over town. On Libyan TV they said that they would be implementing more searches at checkpoints. Previously they only searched men or anyone that looked suspicious - women and families were normally waved through without being stopped. Now they say that they will also begin to search cars driven by females, cars with families and convoys of wedding parties. Just one more reason to stay home.
I managed to get the landline away from the girls today. I called a friend and we had a nice long chat. A telephone call is as close as meeting a friend for a coffee as you can get these days. These days the girls are on the phone all day and half the night talking to their friends. In the past I wouldn't have allowed it but nowadays it's the only way to visit with their friends - there is no gas to go out and no place to go even if we had the gasoline to get there. The girls are getting really bored and fed up.
Nora told me that she heard that the Maharri Hotel is offering three hours of internet for 10 dinars along with free snacks. Not sure if this is true or not. I don't want to go back to the old days of internet cafes. LTT owes me 40 dinars worth of service (and another 40 for the kids) and I paid plenty for two wimax modems that we haven't been able to use for months...... sigh...
I have a funeral to go to tomorrow. The mother-in-law of my husband's cousin, Hajja Warda, died today of old age. She was a wonderful woman, well known for her sense of humor and her kindness. She was always nice to me and at any gathering she made sure to single me out for a chat. She will be missed. God bless her.
It was quiet all day - just planes flying over from time to time.
Tuesday, June 28th, 2011
We got up this morning and puttered about in the garden and did some laundry. I heard three explosions but they were far away. We watched the ICC press conference about the arrest warrants and wondered how long it would take before justice was meted out.
In the late afternoon my sister-in-law and I went to the funeral. We stayed awhile; it was a good chance to visit. My sister-in-law hadn't been out in months - I had a hard time dragging her away. Poor thing has had only me to talk to for the last few months. On the way home we stopped at a few shops to pick up some things we needed.
In the evening a friend called to say her father-in-law had passed away. So I'll have another funeral to go to tomorrow.
Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
Nothing noteworthy today. I went to my friend's father-in-law's funeral in the morning. The rest of the day was spent at home doing the usual. A few explosions in the distance, nothing exciting.
Thursday, June 30th, 2011
Another month comes to an end.
In the morning I spent three hours in the garden working on the basil; topping off the seeds and pulling off leaves so that I can dry them to use later. By eleven o'clock it was too hot to work outside anymore so I came in and started on lunch.
Yusef and Jenna's final exams start next Sunday. They haven't been attending school and haven't done much studying at home. We'll see how the finals go. We've already decided that it will be acceptable if they have to repeat the year next year. But if they pass their exams that will be nice too. The education system here is such a mess and the war hasn't helped.
I sat on the porch after lunch. The weather was warm and breezy. NATO's planes passed over and back all afternoon, finally bombing to the west of us - two big explosions. I glanced up from my book to scan the horizon for the telltale plume of smoke, and then went back to reading.
For a list of news articles, images and videos of events in Tripoli during the month of June: Libya Uprising Archive - Tripoli - June 2011