Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Another level

Last night was another first for me. I became my oldest daughter Nora's chaperone. She came home the other day from school and said she had been invited to her friend's sister's wedding. She was all excited and of course just had to go. I said 'Fine, but I work that day and you will have to wait for me to get home from work and see if I feel up to it.'

The dreaded day arrived. Of course Nora had been getting ready for days in advance. Planning what to wear, and how she would do her hair, and all the fun things girls do. She kept the phone going non-stop with her friends, discussing the issue at length too.

I got home from work and found Nora ready. Pacing back and forth. I really didn't feel like going anywhere but the thought of letting Nora down and having to hear about it from her for days, if not weeks, got me motivated. In the bedroom, open the closet - presto-chango! - in no time at all I was ready to go. The whole time Nora was whining and complaining about being late.

Arriving at the wedding hall to find the bride still had not arrived (it was nearly 10 pm), we had a hard time finding a seat as the wedding hall was packed. Finally we got a seat at a table way, way, way in the back.

Nora's friends came running over and got me seated next to another chaperoning mother, who was the mother of one of Nora's friends and who turned out to live in my neighbourhood. I hadn't met her before, but we knew most of the same neighbours. She seemed to be a nice woman and spent the evening checking out Nora and grilling me for information about any other daughters I might have ( though I'm sure she knew all about my life already). Of course, she voluntarily filled me in on all the details of her wonderful son and the pleasant life they live. I just let her go on and on. It was kind of amusing. Finally after what seemed like forever she asked me a direct question. 'Do you agree to long engagements?' I said, 'No, we don't do that in our family.' That was the end of hearing about her son!

The wedding itself was a huge mess. Horribly planned. It seemed that more guests arrived than had been invited and the result was that they ran out of everything; chairs, tables, drinks, sweets and even food. Dinner, if you were lucky to get a plate, finally arrived after midnight. The music was loud and the girls, most were NOT being chaperoned, were behaving in ways that I found disgusting.

Thank God, it was time to leave! In the car, Nora who was pleased with the evening, gushed on and on about all that had happened. I had a throbbing headache! I've moved up to a new level. I am now the chaperone to assorted parties. I'm not sure I like this new job description.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Back on schedule

I went back into work today. We decided until we're advised otherwise that we would have classes. It was nice to see everyone again - one week was a long time. Imagine if we close the school for 40 days!

Anyway, I gave a nice speaking lesson about tourism - we discussed all the aspects of tourism. The amazing thing is that Libyans have very little concept of tourism. I imagine because most of my students haven't done very much travelling in their lifetimes (sanctions had closed the airport and borders had been often closed inthe recent past). Libya has so much potential as a tourist destination. But because they haven't got any personal experience with the idea they have trouble understanding just the basics. Funny thing is that they don't even know why anyone would even want to visit their country! Sabratha and Leptis are just a bunch of old rocks and broken buildings! Yikes!

I asked them to imagine they owned a hotel. Who would they employ? - Well, certainly they decided that all managerial roles would go to Libyans. The dirty work and hard jobs would go to foriegn workers. Ahhhhhh . . . a country full of bosses!

It will be a long hard stuggle if they ever want any major tourism to happen here I'm afraid. Oh well, it was a good discussion - I hope it opened some of their eyes to the potential of this beautiful country they live in. Maybe someday they will realise the treasure that is theirs.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

This little lamb was born about two hours before I took it's picture. The poor thing can't figure out how to get over or under the irrigation pipe. It's mother kept calling to it and finally gave up and came back to the other side to be next to her baby. After a while the worker came and collected them both and put them in the barn. Baaaaaaaaaa! Posted by Picasa

A rosebud from some miniature roses we are growing on our farm. They are so pretty and delicate. Unfortunately some kind of insect is finding them a tasty treat because they are nibbling away at all the blossoms. We'll have to spray them with something to save them. Posted by Picasa

Mosque in Ras Hasan, Tripoli, Libya Posted by Picasa

Farm growing lettuce and other winter crops - Ain Zarah, Libya Posted by Picasa

Autumn in Ain Zarah, Libya Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 25, 2005

PhotoFriday - yellow

Photofriday - Yellow
Sara with a rose from our farm. Posted by Picasa

Yusef and his spiked-look hair. He is going to drive me crazy - always worrying over his appearance and chasing the girls - or maybe they are chasing him! Posted by Picasa

Today is the day we've chosen to take out the winter clothes and put away the summer ones. It's always a big production with lots of clothes, bags and suitcases thrown all over. No matter how hard you try to keep things organized, it never seems to work. Total chaos - for a day! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 24, 2005

My news . . .

Exams and people's meetings:
The good news is the kid's have finished their exams. They all think they managed to get through without failing anything. The bad news is that motomarat (the people's meetings) have not finished and might be extended to 40 days. Wow! They must really enjoy talking! I'm not sure what this is going to do about my work. We aren't allowed to open the school during the evenings while the motomarat is going on, and we're an evening school. Does this mean we have no work for 40 days? No work means no pay - oh dear!

Taxes - those evil things:
Another piece of exciting news is that every homeowner must pay 100 dinars tax (per year?) for their home. What are the taxes for? Will they go to improving essential things like medical care and schools? Will we have clean, paved streets without potholes? A system of public transportation? What is going to happen with all the money they plan on collecting? I guess I'm a little less than optimistic these days - must be because of the prospect of not having work for 40 days.

On to news about the house:
Yesterday Mustafa and I went out to scan the tile shops for floor tile for the kitchen. Finally, after about two and a half hours, we found one we both liked. The guy in the shop said it was available and we put in an order that they said we could pick up later in the day. So, later in the day, Mustafa went to get the tiles and instead got the news that they didn't have the tiles in stock after all. We are back to square one, having to choose yet again. I am fed up with looking at tile. Maybe we can have a dirt floor in the kitchen and I'll get a few chickens to run in there periodically to clean up the crumbs that the kids leave behind. sigh. . . the thought of going back to the tile shops just gives me a headache.

And then there is the weather:
We've been having rain the last few days! Nice climb under the blanket weather for a change! Nice Thanksgiving weather! -


Monday, November 21, 2005

A child of mine

I have a child that I have never seen. This child is the most mischievous of all my children. Never a day passes without some kind of problem happening because of the antics of this, my naughtiest child, has done.

I'm not sure if this child is a girl or a boy for I don't remember giving birth to it. I never named this child, but it has a name that everyone in the family knows. It's name is 'Mish Ani' which in Libyan Arabic means 'not me'.
  • Who left the water running in the bathroom? 'Mish Ani!'
  • Who spilled the milk on the floor in the kitchen? 'Mish Ani!'
  • Who ate all the cookies that I was saving for guests? 'Mish Ani!'
  • Who is going to take out the garbage? 'Mish Ani!'
  • Who has the keys to the storage room? 'Mish Ani!!'

Why can't it be?
  • Who failed their math exam? 'Mish Ani!'
  • Who wants to watch cartoons? 'Mish Ani!'
One day I may discover who this illusive child of mine is. In the meantime I will just hope Mish Ani doesn't drive me crazy!

For some reason I bet lots of people have a Mish Ani in their family too!

Friday, November 18, 2005

More mid-term exams and people's meetings

The kids are in various stages of mid term exams. When they come in from school I inquire, 'So how did the exam go?' and they invariably reply, 'It was easy!' Hmmm . . . we'll see how easy when the results come in. It will be another week of exam taking and me nagging about no TV, playstation, etc.

Aside from being the second week of exams, next week is also 'motomarat' week - Which means the Libyan population have something like town meetings. Big discussions go on at these, but I'm not quite sure who is doing the discussing because I don't know anyone who attends these things. They are televised and in the pre-satellite days that was all that was on TV. I'm not sure why they bother filming the meetings because quite honestly I don't think anyone watches. In the pre-satellite days we would just periodically turn on the TV in the hopes that a miracle happened and the meetings would be finished.
While the meetings are going on everything closes except for essential services like medical centers and pharmacies so that people can attend the meetings. People just wait around for things to open up, and usually, but not always they shut down the internet connection. It's an annoying fact of Libyan life that happens a few times a year. I've decided to take a positive view this time and take it easy and catch up on my reading. You've got to count all the blessings you can!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

getting back to business

I'm finally getting back into the swing of things. Eid is over and the kids are back to school and I'm back to work. I think I've said 'Eid Mubarak' about a zillion times this week. But it's nice, everyone is cheerful.

We had a really wild thunderstorm the other night. It all began with a big, huge bang. I jumped clear out of the bed. I thought the air conditioning unit had fallen off the wall or something. All the car alarms were going off in the neighbourhood. Finally, I realised it was just thunder and calmed down. We shut off the car alarm and checked out the weather - rain! Finally we are getting some rain. By morning the weather had cleared and the flooding in the streets had gone down. The weather has been absolutely beautiful ever since. The air feels clear and fresh, it's cooler now and I feel alive!

The begining of the week had me thinking I would have a light schedule at work, but in no time at all my schedule is jam-packed full - just the way I like it. I think I nearly went crazy during Ramadan with nothing but the house, cooking and kids to occupy my time. Of course in a few weeks I'll be getting worn out, so I'm thinking to plan some kind of a break in advance. But then I always say that and never do it.

Next week the kids start taking their mid-term exams - I am dreading all the nagging I know I will have to do to get the kids to sit still and study. Maybe I can get some kind of leg irons made and lock each kid to their desks.

No TV! No CDs! No playstation! No! No! No! - uuuugh!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

An old Roman sign from Leptis Magna - but what exactly does it mean? Anyone care to take a guess? Click on comment and tell me what you think it means. Posted by Picasa

What I did on the three days of Eid

The last night of Ramadan in Libya is a crazy all night shopping frenzy. Here's what it looked like in front of the shops in the morning.

The cleaning crew starts in to work first thing in the morning. Poor things have to work on Eid. I hope they get a decent wage.

Within a few hours they have everything spick and span.

The kids get all kinds of toys to play with on Eid. Usually they are noisy. Here's Ibrahim with his gun collection. I hate those things. They shoot little pellets and are actually pretty dangerous. The kids are given money from the relatives and they run out and buy what they want from toy stands that are set up on nearly every corner. Mothers have no control over what the kids buy because they are stuck inside the house. Another reason I hate pellet guns is because the little pellets end up all over the house and I forget to empty the boys? pockets - so they clog up the washing machine. As we drove to my in-laws we noticed most of the boys were using any light bulbs they could find for target practice. There will be a run on light bulbs next week when people replace the broken ones.

Yoyos were by far the hit toy of this Eid. All the kids had them. Mostly they behaved themselves with them but of course they did find it fun to swing them around their heads and aim for the light fixtures hanging from the ceiling. You can't complain too much - at least yoyos are quiet toys.

The first two days of Eid we spent at my in law's house. The third day of Eid we drove out to Khoms to visit the ancient Roman ruins of Leptis Magnus. The weather was perfect. We took Jenna, Ibrahim and Mehdi(nephew). Mustafa stopped to pray the Friday prayer in Khoms and then we had basically half a day at the ruins. - We didn't get to see everything and as there is lots of walking involved the kids got tired and Jenna whined. Next time we will leave the kids at their grandmother's house!

There were lots of tourists there. We actually had a hard time finding a parking space. But as the site is so huge you could wander around and not be bothered by people. We had a nice visit to the museum before we started on the ruins. Outside the museum is a statue of Roman Emperor Septimus Severus that used to be in the Green Square but has been moved to Leptis.

The museum had quite a bit of statuary on display - most all were headless. The heads were on display separately.

They have an interesting collection of artifacts on display in the museum but there aren't any mosaics on display. I think they've all been moved to the museum in Tripoli.

The first thing you see upon entering the ruins is the Arch of Septimus Severus. He was a Roman emperor who was born at Leptis and honored his birthplace by funding most of the buildings in the city and also building an impressive harbour. The buildings rivaled the finest buildings in Rome.

The arch is basically a billboard announcing all of Septimus Severus's good deeds.

As you walk around the site you get the feeling as though you are stepping back in time. It is so hard to imagine how the city was built. The stone and rocks are huge, the columns are immense. How on earth did they move that stuff around without any modern day equipment? We tried to move just a small broken piece of column and it wouldn't even budge an inch. And it's not just a column or two and a few blocks - there are hundreds of columns and zillions of blocks! In the end despite all their hard work, the Romans lost the city:

'By the 4th century, the desert tribes were becoming a serious threat to Leptis. They continually raided the city. In the beginning the city's well fortified walls protected it from plunder. In 365 Leptis was severely damaged by an earthquake. The most damaging blow was an invasion of a Germanic tribe called the Vandals in 455. Leptis became part of the Byzantine Empire in 534 and during this period of upheaval, much of the city was abandoned. The city was virtually empty by 642 when it came under Arab control. Over time the fortified wall collapsed and the city became covered in sand. The dry desert climate and the sand dunes helped to preserve the ruins.'

All around the Severn Forum are huge medallions of Medusa with snakes in her hair. Medusa was actually imported into Greece from Libya where she was worshipped by the Libyan Amazons as their Serpent-Goddess.

The snakes represented the cycles of life, death and rebirth and the seasons. It is the connection to the fertile earth and to the underworld. It also symbolizes immortality as it was thought to shed its skin indefinitely. The wide unblinking eyes reflect her immense wisdom. They are all knowing, all seeing eyes that see through us, penetrating our illusions and looking into the abyss of truth. It was said that to look upon her face was to glimpse ones own death as she saw your future. It is also told that her powerful gaze would turn her male enemies into stone. Medusa's face was often placed on top of columns, over doorways and gateways, signifying her role as the guardian of the thresholds and mediatrix between realms.

. Posted by Picasa

The Bascilica has wonderfully carved columns on each end.

From top to bottom they are carved with angels and figures intertwined with grapes and the leaves of a grapevine.

The amount of detail and the beauty of the work is breathtaking. If it looks this good now, one can only imagine what it must have looked like about 1800 years ago when it was created.

Leptis has both a theatre and an ampitheatre. We only had time to visit the theatre. It's a ideal place to sit and relax with the view of the sea peeking behind the columns of the stage. The height of the theatre also gives you a chance to look out over the ruins.

There is a wide marketplace that was well laid out with separate areas for seafood, poultry and vegetables.

We didn't have time to see everything. We'll have to make another trip for the rest. But it was a wonderful way to spend the third day of Eid.

I may try to reupload this post as the images seem a bit blurry - not sure if that's from me or a blogger issue.  Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Another Ramadan comes to an end

Today is the last day of Ramadan, which means tomorrow is the first day of Eid.
The kids have all got their Eid clothes bought and are ready for the holiday. They are so excited. I am dreading it. Eid to me is very, very, very boring. I have two days of sitting at my in-laws house listening to the women gossip and babble on about the things they find exciting (and I find boring). The kids will be on a sugar high from all the sweets and candy they will be stuffing themselves with and of course they will have a ton of fun things to do, such as playing with balloons, noisy toys and pellet guns. Of course I will bring my camera and take pictures of the excitement, along with panadol to try to stave off the headache I'm sure I'll be getting.

Have a safe and happy holiday - Eid Mubarak!

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