Sunday, January 29, 2006


My students brought pizza as promised for being absent last week because of the big football match between Libya and the Ivory Coast. Libya lost, as was expected.

Actually it wasn't just pizza. The girls brought a lovely cake to share. The girls in this particular class are all from the Ukraine and are working in Libya as nurses. They are sweet and also hard working students.

And the boys brought pizza and an assortment of drinks. We had a nice time! I asked them when the next game was so we could plan an even bigger party next time. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, January 28, 2006

A New Addition

My brother-in-law's wife, L., had a baby! Of course it was a big production . . .

L. and I don't really have much to do with each other. Actually we pretty much ignore one another. The only time she calls me is when she goes in to labour because she knows that I will be right there to help her. I've been there for the births of all of her children. Helping her to get through the labour pains and dealing with the doctors and nurses. She feels comfortable with me because I know Llamas and help her with all the breathing and I can speak to the doctors in English, and I also know many of the doctors because they have taken English courses with me or one of my colleagues.

So last night the doorbell rang and my niece was at the door to say L. was downstairs in the car. I got dressed, went downstairs, got into the car and asked her which hospital she wanted to go to. She said Tripoli Medical Center (TMC). I borrowed my brother-in-law's mobile phone and started making calls to see if I could find out which of my doctor students was on duty. As luck would have it one of my former IELTS students said he would meet us - he wasn't on duty at the time but he's a gynecologist and worked at TMC - it's nice to have students who are so helpful.

My brother in law (F.) has this idea that his wife should only be seen by female doctors. Unfortunately this isn't always possible, especially at night because usually male doctors handle the night shift. But at TMC they had female doctors on duty and my student consulted with them about my sister in law.

Unfortunately, L. suffers from a slipped disk and the doctors said a cesarean would be necessary. But there was a problem. The hospital had no incubators available. All of them were occupied and if she wanted to give birth there her husband would have to sign a waiver saying that the hospital would not be responsible if something happened and the baby needed special care. In other words - if the baby had a problem they would just hand it to you and if it lived it lived, and if it died it died. My student checked at Jala hospital and they were having the same problem there too.

After some discussion L. said she wanted to go home - so we took her home. She still had a while to go and I thought if we got her home I could talk to her and decide with F. where we would take her. My student kept her file ready at TMC in case we came back.

Within an hour L. was really suffering excruciating back pain. I told F. we should try private clinics but that it was going to be difficult to find a female doctor. He was adamant that no male doctor would see his wife. We went to three different clinics before we found a female doctor. F. asked me 'Do you think this doctora is a good one?' I wanted to hit him! I told him 'You are being stubborn and don't have a choice!'

The doctora looked at L.'s files and I explained what had happened so far. By this time L.'s back was so bad she could barely stand it. The labour pains weren't the problem - her back was. We got F. to agree to admit her and they took her immediately to the theatre. F. and I waited upstairs and after a while they came with the baby. A boy! My brother in law was thrilled - he's got 3 girls and this was the boy he had been hoping for. The baby was fine.

Trouble began when they brought L. . . . The elevator opened and accompanying L. was the doctora and two male doctors. 'Who are these men?' my brother in law wanted to know. 'The anesthesiologist and the ward doctor.' they told him. 'I wanted only female doctors!' F. shouted. The doctora said 'I am the one that performed the surgery.' F. was pissed off. I told him to shut up and behave himself. He glared at me but did as I asked. The nurses and doctora were busy settling L. in her room and at the same time another patient was being admitted to the same room. The ward doctor went in to help with the other patient and F. chased him into the room and blew up, shouting 'My wife is in here! I don't want any men in here!' Then he started pushing the doctor and of course the doctor was pushing back. I grabbed them both just as F. raised his fist to punch the doctor and I managed to push them both outside.

I shoved F. into a chair and stood between the two of them. I told F. 'Behave yourself. The doctor has another patient he is seeing. You cannot go in there. People are sick here - this is a hospital and it's two o'clock in the morning. You cannot behave this way.' He tried to continue arguing with the doctor and I stood in between them and quietly told F. 'Shut up. I don't want to hear one more word.' I asked him to wait downstairs at the reception but he refused. He just sat there glaring at me. Every few minutes he would try to start an argument with the doctor and I would quietly tell him 'Shut up and behave yourself.' He would glare at me some more.

I told him I was going to check on L. As soon as I walked into L.'s room he started in with the doctor again. I came back out and said 'You go downstairs right now. I will make sure L. is ok and we will call you when you can come in to see her.' Finally he agreed to go downstairs. I checked on L. who was settling in. They had given her painkiller and she was drifting off to sleep. I apologized profusely to the doctor and staff for F.'s behaviour and went downstairs.

F. wanted to go see his wife and I told him she was sleeping comfortably and pushed him out the door of the clinic. 'You can see her tomorrow morning.' It was after 3:00 am by the time I got home.

Whew! I hope my sister in law doesn't have anymore kids!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Laundry, kittens and Ibrahim

The water pump has been repaired. It's amazing how much laundry has piled up. It's also cold and rainy so I really don't feel like bothering with the laundry but I have to do it anyway.

The kittens are both still surviving, but I'm not sure how long they will hang on. Mama cat has decided to keep the kittens on the top bunk of the bunkbeds in the girl's room. They have just opened their eyes and are beginning the squirming around stage of their lives - they will most likely fall off the bed. I have enough things in life to worry about - do I really need to add two kittens to the list? When they are not on the top bunk of the bed Mama cat drags them into the living room so they can watch TV with the kids.

We found a school that we think will help Ibrahim. They specialize in kids with learning disabilities, ADHD, speech disorders and other problems. None of the kids there are mentally retarded which was a problem we found in other schools. The doctor was adamant that Ibrahim not be put in a school with the mentally retarded as he thought it would have a negative effect. He said if we couldn't find a suitable school that we should hire a teacher to tutor Ibrahim and keep him at the regular school.

We were happy to find this school. I wish there was some kind of co-ordination with services, schools etc. as it took a lot of running around to find it. The school is not too far away and the class sizes are small - there are only 4 students in Ibrahim's class. He fell in love with his teacher right away and he is sooo excited that he gets to ride the bus to and from school. Keeping my fingers crossed that it works out for him. I know that even in the United States there is a big problem finding the right school, services, etc. if you have a kid with special needs, so you can imagine what it's like here!

The weather is cold and damp. I am enjoying it!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Back to work :)

I went back to work yesterday after a two week break. It was nice to go back because sitting in the house was driving me crazy. Everyone seemed happy to be back and the students said they wished we had class last week. These kinds of comments make me happy!

The students informed me that they wanted to take Tuesday off so they could watch the football match between Libya and the Ivory Coast. They wanted to cheer Libya on. 'What's the point?' I asked. 'Libya is only going to lose. They lost miserably to Egypt the other day - zero to three. How embarrassing!' I said.

They were adamant that we cancel the class. I told them they could come to class and have their friends send them text messages whenever Libya scored a goal (which probably wouldn't happen). 'But we have to SEE the players make the goal!' they replied.

We came to a compromise. Those students who didn't come to class on Tuesday would have to bring pizza and drinks for the class on Wednesday. If Libya loses (most likely) they have to also bring a tray of Cak (a Libyan cookie in the shape of a zero). If by some miracle Libya wins they have to bring ubumbar and rozata (almond macaroons and almond drink). Whatever happens we'll have a party on Wednesday.

Other news in my life is that the water pump has died. Mustafa is out trying to revive it and of course the weather is cold, windy and rainy so he is outside complaining. . . sigh . . . sometimes I think I should have married a plumber. The good news is that without water I don't have to cook today - we get to have sandwiches. You see - there is a good side and bad side to every situation here in Libya.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

As promised - some pictures: Here's Jenna looking so full of glamour at the wedding!

I think they had the loudest Ziffa ever! - It took them an hour to get the bride down the aisle and into her chair!

Here's Nora helping out with painting - trying her best to keep paint out of her hair!

The sunset at the beach yesterday. Posted by Picasa

wedding and paint fumes

My computer is down at home, which means I'm stuck at the internet cafe down the street (not my favourite place to be).

We had a wonderful time at my friend's son's wedding. It was loud - oh so loud! - I've got pictures and I'll post them as soon as I can.

The painting of the flat is proceding slowly but surely. Two rooms finished so far (got pictures of that too, of course).

Yesterday, for a break, we drove to the beach and went for a walk. It was nice to breathe the fresh air!

I will post pictures as soon as I'm able.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

getting things done around here

I've been surviving the kids holiday from school so far. It's been disapointing because the trip to Tunis fell through but I've been making the most of it.

Making the most of it means doing one of my all time favourite things: SHOPPING! - yes, I love shopping, especially if I think I'm getting a bargain. This week is also one of my very best friend's son's weddings so I've had things to shop for. Not just for me but for the girls too. We are going to look smashing at this wedding!

Another plan I've got for this week is to make my husband feel guilty about messing up the trip to Tunis. Making him guilty includes convincing him that I need a new bracelet - a nice gold one - preferably an expensive one! Also he has been told that since he has free time on his hands now, that he's to paint the livingroom, sitting room, kitchen and the kids bedrooms. He is out buying the paint right now.

The kids and I have decided to make him not make the mistake of messing up our holiday ever again . . . I hope our plan works.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Story Of A Building, A History Of A City.
Celebrating a great building, which might be ..
Breathing It's Last!
Click on the image to read this report from Youcef at Ajdabiya Online. Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 13, 2006

Pet Peeves

Everybody's got a pet peeve. Most have got a lot of them. Mine mostly have something to do with life in Libya. Can you tell I need a vacation?

Here's my list of the things that just drive me crazy, make my blood boil, or just plain piss me off:

1. Being late - I hate to be late and I hate it even more when others are late. I think this is the biggest offence on my list so it is up here at number one. Of course living in Libya makes this extremely difficult for me because everyone seems to be late ALL the time. Not only am I on time - I'm usually a little early. Tick-tock goes the clock - every minute counts! If you want me to be mad at you, just show up late for an appointment. I'll be forgiving, but I won't forget it!

2. Water on the bathroom floor - Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! - another problem with living in Libya as Libyans tend to splash water all over the place while they are in the bathroom and think nothing of it at all. I find it absolutely disgusting to have to wade my way around the bathroom and will usually just turn right around and walk out. Unless it's a total emergency, I can wait. Uuuugh!

3. Remote control madness - I rarely watch TV, so when I sit down and find myself interested in something and someone grabs the remote control and changes the channel, I get pissed off. This is one of the reasons why I don't like watching TV in the first place. Usually it's hubby, channel surfing like mad - switching between Aljazeera, Alarabia and the other Arabic news channels (as if they have anything different to say!).

4. Trees planted in the middle of the sidewalk - Yes, I know it sounds weird, but all over town there are idiots that knock holes in the sidewalk and plant trees there. The sidewalks here are narrow to begin with, so with holes with trees in them, or sometimes holes with dead trees in them, the sidewalk becomes useless. I am a big fan of walking. I love to walk! But with obstacles in the path it is a pain. When the kids were small it was impossible to use the sidewalks if I was using the stroller. Most of the time the only option is to walk in the street itself and risk being run over by a car. Why do they plant the trees in the middle of the sidewalk? Why can't they just plant them in their gardens?

5. Fatima Omar - You don't get a phone bill delivered to your house in Libya, the phone company just puts your phone on receiving calls only and you get a recording of Fatima Omar telling you to go pay your bill. I know it's not her fault, but when I hear her voice when I try to dial the phone I usually swear at her. In Arabic and in English! Good thing it only happens about every three months.

6. Bugs in fruit - In America I never thought much about bugs in fruit. Fruit there is pretty sterile! But in this part of the world you have to pick over all the fruit before you eat it. Worst of all is usually dates - they get these cobwebby looking nests in them with these teeny-weeny little bugs. You have to open up each one and inspect it before popping it into your mouth. . . Sigh . . . There are times when I just forgo eating fruit because I don't feel like going through the inspection process. Now that the kids are big enough they can inspect their own fruit, but it was a hassle when they were small and I had to look at everyone's fruit. I've also learned to reinspect fruit my mother-in-law has inspected. That woman needs glasses and won't give in and get her eyes checked!

7. Rich women with bad teeth - Not uncommon to see women laden down with gold, but when they smile you see a whole mouth full of rotten or missing teeth. "Honey, sell a bracelet and get yourself to the dentist!"

8. Honk, honk, honk! - I hate when ladies come for a visit and when their husband arrives to pick them up they honk the car's horn because they are too lazy to get out and ring the bell. I have a rule in my house: I never, ever respond to car horns.

9. Doctor's appointments - You make an appointment and get there at the right time only to find out that the 20 patients that are sitting in the waiting room have all been told to come in at the same time as you. Why do they do this?

10. Clean laundry in the basket - I spend hours every week doing laundry. With eight people in the house we have lots of laundry. I get to the final stage, folding the clothes and asking that it be put away. The kids just toss them in the corner of their room instead of putting the clothes into the closet. Then when it comes time to clean the room, the clean clothes get thrown in the laundry hamper! Much easier than putting them away! Of course they make sure to toss in a few stinky socks or a damp towel on top. Boy, I hate that!

Phew! Now that I got all that off my chest I feel a little better.

Go ahead and click on comments and tell me what YOUR BIGGEST PET PEEVE is!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Adding links

I've been adding links to the sidebar. It's been a while since I've done it, but please have a look from time to time as I'll be adding more this week.

I have another week off work and we aren't going to Tunis as we had planned. . . it's a 12 hour drive and no one wants to spend that much time confined in the small space of the van with one another. Maybe I'll get some things done around the house instead!

Flying birds
A.Adam, Serag and Esra contribute to a Libyan Blog that's been around since last April.
Click on the image to have a look.
Happy Blogging! Posted by Picasa

Ever kissed a toad?

The kids found this toad at the farm and had fun playing with it. When I first came to Libya 17 years ago you could find toads everywhere in rural areas, especially in areas that were being irrigated. I haven't seen very many toads lately. I think it is probably the result of all the insecticides that are being sprayed everywhere. Posted by Picasa

Kittens . . . again

The cat's had kittens once again. She has had kittens three times before and none of the kittens have ever survived. Layla had three kittens this time and one of them has already died.

In the beginning she kept trying to have her kittens in my room in the closet, but I kept shooing her out and putting her in a box outside next to the door in the stairway. She finally just had them there but the next day she decided to move the two survivors into Ibrahim's closet. We finally gave in and moved Ibrahim's clothes out so she could have it all to herself.

This kept her happy for about two days. Now she has decided that she wants to share her offspring with the kids and has moved them into Nora's bed. The last time she had kittens she kept putting them in Jenna's bed in the middle of the night. This resulted in Jenna rolling over one of the kittens and inadverdantly killing it. It was a traumatic experience for poor Jenna.

We'll put them back in Ibrahim's closet, but I don't think she will leave them there. Anyone got any suggestions?
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

My Eid Day

Happy Eid! - Yes the day has arrived. We got up bright and early and Mustafa went off to Eid prayers while I got the kids and all our supplies ready to go to my mother-in-law's house for the big day. The sheep were allready there - waiting so patiently.

I kind of like this picture. The blood is a vivid red and the shadow of my brother-in-law holding the knife looks threatening. He definitely got the job done.

The weather turned out not to be so bad after all. It rained on and off, but very light and the sun was shining most of the time. We worked in the garage.

Every Libyan woman's nightmare is cleaning out the stomach and intestines. The are then stuffed with a mixture of parsley, onions, chopped up meat, liver, kidney, heart, lung, and fat, rice and chopped potatoes. It's called osban and I personally, I hate it. I won't eat it, but hubby and the kids love the stuff. - Yuck!!!

The kids sucked down can, after can, after can, of soda pop. You would have thought they never had a chance to drink the stuff in their lives.

We took some of our meat home and I stuck it in the freezer and cleaned up. Another Eid day done! Happy Eid to all! Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 09, 2006

Thea has a nice story with pictures of the rush to buy the Eid sheep in Tripoli. Click on the image and have a look. Thanks Thea for posting it! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Eid jitters

Yes, I'm getting the Eid jitters. There is something that I've discovered over the years and that is that I don't feel at all sentimental about Eid. As a matter of fact, I think I hate the holiday. (Bah Humbug!)

Mustafa went out yesterday to buy a sheep. He left in the morning and didn't come home until it was dark. I cannot imagine why it took him so long because there are about a zillion sheep out there and in my opinion they all taste about the same. He came home in a nasty mood - grumbling and complaining about everything. I'm sure he must have argued his way through the whole process of buying the sheep. I'm not pleased to be the dumping ground for his bad mood and I've decided to do my best to ignor him.

Now I have 'THE DAY' itself to look forward to. We all meet every year at my mother-in-law's house and all the brothers slaughter their sheep together. The last few years they've hired a butcher to come help out, which is nice, but it is still nothing but work - lots of work, messy work, really messy work. The weather these days is cold and windy. I looked at the weather report and it says rain! So we'll be outside in the cold and rain as well.

To top it off there will be the sister-in-laws to deal with. Maybe that's the worst part of the whole ordeal. I can take them in small doses, but an entire day is almost more than I can bear. . . sigh . . . I never had anything in common with any of them and I don't supose I ever will.

The kids and men seem to be the only ones that ever really enjoy Eid. The men get to be all macho - slaughtering the poor sheep and then they all sit around and stuff themselves with grilled meat. The kids have a grand time, running, playing, drinking can after can of soda, and eating all day long.

I will survive - I always do. I'll keep you posted on the events.

PS: Since Mustafa has been in such a shitty mood and we aren't speaking to each other - the trip to Tunis is off for the moment.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Wadi Ghan - Gharian, Libya

Today we woke up, had a late breakfast and then decided we would go for a drive. It was a spur of the moment thing, without any plans. I've found these are often the best outings. We also decided to only take Jenna along. The other kids just wanted to lay around all day and watch TV. They hadn't been allowed to watch TV for the 2 weeks of the exams and they were suffering from withdrawl.

We got in the car and looked at each other and said 'Where to?' We had no plans so we just started driving. It was nearly time for Friday prayers and we stopped for Mustafa to pray at a mosque along the roadside. Then we continued on our journey. In the end we decided to head for Reggat to visit my friend Debby and her husband Adel. We got there and had a cup of tea and then the five of us piled into the car and drove out to Wadi Ghan (I hope I've spelled it correctly) which is a wadi that's been dammed in Gharian and is used as a water reservoir.

The scenery in the area is quite beautiful, rocky and stark. Many of the hills that can be seen are extinct volcanoes and there is black lava rock strewn around the region.

The wall of the dam has some steps going up the side. Mustafa, Jenna and I climbed the steps and Debby and Adel drove the car on the road and met us at the top.

Adel says there are 365 steps but Mustafa estimated it at about 300. I was too worried about falling to count. There isn't a hand rail. Of course, Jenna flew up the steps like a mountain goat, while Mustafa and I huffed and puffed to the top.

The view from the steps - about the halfway mark.

Once you get to the top (and catch your breath) you can see the water reservoir.

The water is calm and the view is lovely.

We dropped Debby and Adel back off at their house in Reggat and headed for home. It was an enjoyably peaceful afternoon. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Busy, busy, busy!

I've been busy lately, very busy! Ibrahim had some kind of tummy virus, or something and was going full speed ahead from both ends for about 24 hours. I ran out to the pharmacy to get him some medicine to see if it would help, but it was useless - he just threw it all up. The worst thing was that as sick as he was, he still had an appetite and wanted to eat - which then he promptly threw up.

I've never been very good with sick kids. And vomitting I cannot really deal with - I don't even like to hold babies because they might spit up - YUCK! Mustafa is pretty good about helping out in times like this, and Nora and Sara pitched in to help out too. He's feeling better now, but I am wondering how long it will take me to catch up on all the laundry. And I'm also wondering whether whatever he had was contagious. Time will tell.

The kids have officially finished their exams and they are now on holiday! Woe is me! I am going into work today for the last time before the holidays, and I'm not going back in again until the 22nd of January. This doesn't mean I'm not working though as I have a workshop that I'll be giving in February to prepare for, and a presentation to prepare for that I'll be giving in March - so lot's of work for me. Aside from that there is the Eid as well - a whole big mess in itself.

Tunis - now that's another story. My exit visa is ready and now we are deciding on when to leave and who will come along. Of course all the kids want to go but I am limiting it to 2 kids only. Plus I'm not sure what other relatives are going to come along. There is still no definite answer from my mother-in-law. Wait and see.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

An exit visa?? or a trip to h-e-l-l?

In my last post I mentioned the trials and tribulations of getting Mustafa to get me an exit visa. Well . . . progress at last! He arrived home and waved it under my nose and said 'See I got the thing in about an hour.' - yes . . after I nagged him nearly to death.

So what did he do next? . . . He sat himself down in MY chair and picked up the phone, dialed his brother's number and proceded to invite his brother and mother along on a trip to Tunis. Tell me please - What on earth did I do to deserve this punishment?

Today I went to work and my students asked me how long they would get off for the Eid holiday. I told them I really wasn't sure yet. Then I explained to them that I might be taking a trip to Tunis. I also added that it all hinged on whether the Azooza (old lady or mother-in-law) would be going or not. Azooza goes, I stay - Azooza stays, I go. Well, they thought this was very funny - one student actually fell on the floor he was laughing so hard.

This isn't funny to me - I like my Azooza, actually I could honestly say I love her - but not on holiday. The idea of having my mother-in-law, or any other Libyan women on a trip with me for that matter, just isn't my idea of a holiday. I want to eat what I want, when I want. I don't want to be worrying over cooking pots of macaroni and dragging along the teapot for the endless cups of tea. What kind of holiday would it be if I spent it in the kitchen? - I do that at home more than enough all ready. And of course I want to go out and have a nice time, spend money without having someone comment: 'For the price of that we could have bought a whole sheep!' Uggghhhh!

Tunis is sounding like a dream now . . . . we'll see how it turns out . . . . I'll keep you posted.

an update on my life

It's the second week of the kids exas. They seem to be doing ok - and I am surviving too. After they finish exams they will have a two week holiday. It will coincide with the Islamic holiday Eid Al Adha - a holiday that honors Prophet Abraham and the sacrifice of the ram.

I'm not looking forward to the Eid. We always spend it at my in-laws with the family all gathering there to sacrifice their sheep in honor of the occasion. Eid is hard work - lots of time is spent cutting up meat. The last few years we hired a butcher to come help out, but there is still lots of work involved. My kids don't even like lamb, so I usually slice it thin, salt it and dry it so it lasts about a year. We use the meat when we feel like eating something quickly - macaroni umbukbaka. This year I told Mustafa just to give the meat away - I really don't feel like going to all the trouble to dry it. It's not that I'm being lazy - it's just that we still have meat left from last year.

We've talked about going to Tunis for a visit right after Eid. I could use a break, but this requires getting an exit visa for me. That in itself is not difficult - the difficult thing is getting Mustafa to go and apply for it etc. . . What does one have to do to get that man to move? - Light a fire under him? Anyway, after nagging him for more than a month, I finally told him that if I must have the visa in my hands by Wednesday morning or I will not be going to Tunis. He just said 'Don't worry! It's so easy and only takes a day!' - I informed him that I need to make arrangements with work no later than Wednesday. . . .Sigh . . . We'll see what happens. I certainly could use a break.

It's 2006 . . I haven't made any New Years resolutions, have you?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

Wishing all my friends and family near and far, a very safe, prosperous,
healthy and happy New Year!
 Posted by Picasa

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