Friday, September 29, 2006

Where is this? - #9

Another picture for the 'Where is this?' challenge. If you think you know where it is (or you want to guess) click on comments.

The pictures for the game 'Where is this?' have all been taken from someplace in Libya and are in an area open to the public. The prize for the winner will be the satisfaction of knowing that you had the right answer! - I'll let you know who the winner is.

I noticed that they are doing a similar Where is this? on Libyan TV this Ramadan.... I wonder if they got the idea from me?


Since no one seems to know where this is I've decided to post a few more pictures as a hint.

Does this look familiar?

What about this?

How about this?

Where is this???


At last! Someone has the answer! - A.Adam posted this:

I know this mosque it called " El Turki mosque "located near to El Burj Bakery in Arad'a (3rada).

You're correct! It is El Turki Mosque in Arada, an area of Suk Juma. It's currently under renovation. It looked rather ordinary before but now it's looking pretty special. Lots of hard work has been going in to the design and building.

Posted by Picasa

A drive to Gharian

We got up early and decided to go for a nice long drive. We headed out for Gharian. A hairpin turn road leads up the mountain into Gharian.

Dangerous curves. . . .

Along the roadside are stands that sell pottery that is made locally. We stopped and had a look.

We drove around, wandering on different roads, looking at the views.

We saw what looked like an old Italian church in the distance and decided to have a closer look.

Sure enough on closer inspection it was in fact an old church. It was abandoned and protected by a wall surrounding it.

Next to the church was a school that was from the same period and is still in use.

We had a look around and then went on our way.

It was a nice drive, but it was time to go home and cook dinner. One week of Ramadan is over... three to go. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The latest craze

The noise in my house must be many decibels above what is probably considered safe. Not only is the television blasting in the living room, the girls have the CD player in their room going at full volume and the play station has a constant 'Vroom, vroom, vroom' with Driver being played non-stop, or so it seems.

Lately the boys have taken it one step further. When Ibrahim and Jenna were small I bought them a plastic see-saw toy; a 'zingy-da-da' as they call it here. They outgrew it long ago and I threw it into the storage room thinking eventually we would move to the farm and I could take it out if small children were visiting. The boys were digging around and found it and discovered that they could go all the way to the top of our building and sit on it and ride it down the stairs.

They've even invited the neighbour kids to have a go at it. They all arrive straight after school, still wearing their school uniforms. They've been riding the stairs for the past few days. You cannot imagine the noise it makes! It's become the latest craze, all the boys are addicted. I've threatened to throw away the zingy-da-da while they are at school so they've found a hiding place for it while they're away. 'Boys! I absolutely refuse to take anyone that's bleeding to the hospital in my car - so if you get hurt you are on your own!' I told them, but they just laughed at me. . . . sigh . . . I need earplugs! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Some Blogs to Keep You Reading

I've come across some more blogs that are either being written by Libyans, or by people who have been here in the past, or are staying here now.

Chatalaine - Spent her high school years here in Tripoli - she's a Wheelus High School alumni who yearns to visit Libya again one day.

Small Digital World - a Libyan software developer

Huk Huk - Aimen is one of my students. He's on an adventure in Germany, doing a training program in architectural design at a company located in the Black Forest. He's writing his blog as a way to keep us informed about his many adventures. (I'm always so happy when my students start blogging!)

On Tripoli - A blog about things to do around Tripoli.

The Bedouin Project - A student of Middle East Studies working in Libya.

Sorry, You're Not Entitled - This is the true story of one family's emigration from England to Cyprus. Part of the story takes place in Libya.

I'll add them to my sidebar for future reference. The list keeps getting longer!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Where is this? - # 8

Another picture for the 'Where is this?' challenge. If you think you know where it is (or you want to guess) click on comments.

The pictures for the game 'Where is this?' have all been taken from someplace in Libya and are in an area open to the public. The prize for the winner will be the satisfaction of knowing that you had the right answer! - I'll let you know who the winner is.


Dania2004 guessed it first when she commented: 'shat el hensheer area in treeg al shat', so congratulations dania2004!

Later in the day Trabilisia said: 'near the sea -side just after Libyana and Bu- sitta areas'. But Dania2004 answered correctly before Trabilisia so she gets the credit for having the correct answer first.

The picture is of a shop that specializes in selling lighting for decorative purposes. I'm not sure why anyone would want a glowing palm tree, but there are some people who must really love them because I see them around. I kind of like little twinkly lights in the trees sometimes, especially if you are sitting outside under them at night, but only white, not coloured bulbs for me. (I guess I'm a little on the boring side). I really hate it when they do up all the lights at weddings. I think it cheapens the atmosphere, but to each his/her own.

This one was way too easy. I will have to make it more difficult next time.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 24, 2006

How to Survive Ramadan

People in Ramadan are just plain ole grumpy! I got up yesterday and sorted out what I was going to do for the day and then went to the small grocery store where I usually buy my vegetables. They were just opening up the store (at 11 am). I noticed that the guys working in the shop (about 6 of them) were having some kind of argument but as soon as I walked in the argument stopped.

They were the surliest bunch! Not one had a smile or a kind word. I bought my vegetables and fruit, the whole time thinking that the atmosphere was thick with anger. I got out of there as quickly as I could. No one offered to help me out to the car with the bags. As soon as I got out the door they erupted into their unfinished argument.

I piled the bags into the trunk and got in the car only to be startled by a hard rapping noise on the window glass directly next to my ear. I looked and found a begger woman pounding away on the window - she wouldn't stop banging away. I just drove off, the whole time hoping she wasn't somehow attached to the car and coming home with me. Why are beggars so rude and why are there so many of them during Ramadan?

I got home, unloaded the groceries and started in cooking. I always cook early in Ramadan. I make sure I'm done by 2:30 so I can take a shower and have a nap, spending the afternoon relaxing, reading, working on some project or another, or just hanging out with my family. I found that if I keep to this schedule I feel better and I'm less likely to be in a grumpy mood. If I find myself behaving badly I can just go to bed and stay there until it's time to eat, thus avoiding making other people miserable.

Why does Ramadan turn people who are normally pleasant into beasts? Where do all these beggars come from and what do they do the rest of the year?

What do you do to get yourself through Ramadan?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Warm Wishes

Wishing you all the very best this month. For information about Ramadan in Libya please see the post below. I'm playing with widgets and installed a widget that will let you see the page on my website about Ramadan in Libya.

Ramadan Mubarak!

Ramadan in Libya

Friday, September 22, 2006

The last day before Ramadan begins...

Tomorrow is the first day of Ramadan so we decided to spend the afternoon today at the farm, cleaning things up and organizing some of the mess that the builders seem to have made. We got the kids busy moving all the assorted pieces of wood into one big pile. Notice Ibrahim, hard at work, wearing his shib-shib on the wrong feet, as usual.

After the kids moved most of the wood they noticed some kind of nest hidden underneath and we all went over to have a look.

When we uncovered the nest we found a mother hedgehog with five babies! Posted by Picasa

The baby hedgehogs were so tiny and their eyes were still closed. Their spines were sharp as needles!

We had a good look and then put them back and replaced some of the wood over their nest.

The olives are nearly ready to be picked....

The house is coming along slowly. Mustafa says the workers will work during Ramadan, but I think he's being rather optimistic. The plasterwork is finished. It was a big headache. I'm a 'jibs' minimalist - I hate plaster - I think it looks ugly. Mustafa on the other hand thinks 'jibs' is great. We compromised and got the simplest looking plaster we could find. I still hate it, but he seems happy now. Sometimes you have to compromise. . . sigh . . .

The garage door has been installed. It will have glass panels behind the metal but they won't do that until the house is nearly finished.

Jenna found an interesting looking grasshopper and the kids played with it.

I went for the last walk around the farm. The leaves on the trees are just beginning to turn slightly yellow. Autumn is here, Ramadan will probably keep us too busy to spend much time at the farm. It was a nice peaceful last day before I face the kitchen for Ramadan. I'm ready for it now . . . are you? Posted by Picasa

The Friday Market

The Friday market - Suk Aljuma, Tripoli Libya

Going to the Friday market is a tradition for many men and boys in Tripoli. It's a crowded flea market with people buying and selling new and used things. Few women go to the Friday market because it's crowded and most are busy at home on Friday mornings.

Lots of bargains can be found there... and lots of junk too. Usually my husband takes some of the kids with him when he goes and leaves some in the car to make sure the radio or tires don't get stolen (or maybe the whole car!). My mother in law is always concerned that someone might steal the kids, but so far it's never happened.

[ Click on the pictures to see an enlarged version] . Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Getting Ready for Ramadan

I've been getting ready for Ramadan. Every year I go out and buy some new dishes, not necessarily because I need them, but in the hopes that it will make me feel better about having to spend so much time in the kitchen.

Yesterday I took my mother in law out shopping. It was a novelty for her as her usual route of getting things for the house is to ask someone to bring them to her. I don't think she had ever been in a house wares shop before. I took her to a nice shop that has a wide range of merchandise so she would have a good selection to choose from. The shop is owned by one of my students, so of course we got royal treatment.

Hajja had brought about 40 dinars with her to spend. She hadn't a clue how much anything cost and she kept asking me 'How much is this?' because she couldn't read the price tags. I would always tell her the wrong price (intentionally) and then take what she wanted and give it to my student to put behind the counter. I didn't want her to see how much she was accumulating, I just wanted her to have a good time and get what she wanted. In no time at all, she'd lost all track of what she was buying. She was like a little kid in a candy shop with unlimited funds.

Sometimes she would pick things up and really give them a good look over. She picked up a tea set and I could tell she wanted it but wasn't sure if she should buy it. I know she wasn't sure about it and wanted to discuss it with someone else, her daughters perhaps, or her sisters. Finally she asked me if I would take her out again during Ramadan and I assured her I would. With a big sigh of relief she put the tea set back on the shelf and said, 'I'll get this the next time.'

Finally she was satisfied that she'd seen everything the shop had to offer and I went to the counter to pay for everything. My student, the shopkeeper gave her a coffee mug and a Quran tape as a present. She was so pleased. Then he helped us out to the car. There wasn't much room left in the car and my student joked that we had nearly cleared out all his shop. Needless to say we went way over the forty dinars she had to spend. I think if she knew how much we really spent she would have fainted. But it was fun, we had a good time together and now we are both ready to face the kitchen.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

School ????

We're still getting into the swing of things with school. Jenna is still in the afternoon and Nora has a disaster with her studies. It seems that they've decided there will be no second year English in High School (Nora is in the program for languages/English - Social Sciences). They are switching from a 4 year program to a 3 year program this year and to do this they've cut English for 2nd year. They told her to repeat the subjects that she did in 1st year and then go on to do English next year. What!?! She did the first year of General Sciences and decided she wanted to switch to English. Last year she had to repeat the first year since she switched (even though she had passed it in General Sciences). Now they want her to do it again.... a third time?? The second year students are furious. The school principal asked that they bring their parents to the school to discuss the situation, so Mustafa went off to the school to see what's up.

Jenna is in fifth grade this year. This means that she gets to study English at school... but what is she going to study? The textbook has mistakes on every page!!! I doubt if the teacher can even speak English let alone teach it. . . . sigh . . . I'll have to pay a visit to the school and check things out... I'm not looking forward to it.

Education???? Really???

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Where is this - #7

Another picture for the 'Where is this?' challenge. If you think you know where it is, or was, (or you want to guess) click on comments.

The pictures for the game 'Where is this?' have all been taken from someplace in Libya and are in an area open to the public. The prize for the winner will be the satisfaction of knowing that you had the right answer! - I'll let you know who the winner is.


Good job N! - N knew the correct answer: 'It is on the street on the side of El Bourgh El-Fatha. A sign that says NO BARKING.'

The picture was taken quite a while ago so I'm not sure if it's still there. Here's another picture with the El Fatha Tower in the background.

Getting an Education

Today was the first day of school here in Libya. Actually, Ibrahim has been going to school for the last two weeks, but the other kids started today.

Last night I had to yell at them to get their stuff all in order and ready, and of course they were all sitting there staring at the TV, ignorring me. Finally I unplugged the satelite reciever. Summer is over - no more TV. I get to go back to being mean old mom again. When Mustafa came home the kids ran to him and complained and I told him if he wants to watch Aljazeera he can take the satelite up to the farm and install it there. He looked at me as though I'd gone crazy or something. Maybe I have, but I've found the only way to get the kids moving is to remove TV from their lives. I've tried to just turn it off, but as soon as I leave for work, or even leave the room, they turn it back on and stare at it. I've decided to get them into the routine of school and study from day one and that means 'NO TV!'.

Last night they were all so excited they couldn't sleep. This morning found everyone feeling groggy and tired with puffy eyes. It will take them a while to get into the routine of going to bed earlier and getting up earlier.

Jenna went off to school this morning only to be sent back home. They said to come back in the afternoon and they will decide which kids will get to study in the morning. If they decide to put her in the afternoon we'll have to move her to another school. I have had my fill of split sessions. Kids in the morning, kids in the afternoon - no proper time for lunch and dinner when we can all sit down together as a family, and the house in constant turmoil with people in and out all day. Split sessions and me don't get along well at all. I am going to put my foot down this year.

Adam is still in the US. He's planning on coming home either after Ramadan or towards the end of it. In the mean time, his father will have to go to his school and collect his books, etc. I don't expect they will do much studying until after Ramadan anyway, and they usually have a big hulabaloo over getting all the books. It seems to take them weeks to sort it all out. I never could figure out why they can't have it all ready on the first day... sigh... back to school madness!

Adam's learning more in the US, experienceing new things, seeing and doing things he's never done before. He's off to Seattle this week to visit my sister and her husband. My brother in law wants Adam to have a good time while he's visiting. He sent me this email:

We are looking forward to Adam's visit. I have some questions for you to make sure he has a good time and we do what he likes and can handle. If we go hiking in the mountains, how strenuous of a hike should I shoot for? Do you think 6 miles and 2000 feet elevation gain would be pushing the limits? I want to show him some cool sights, but don't want to make it boot camp. We will get into snow and hopefully see some mountain goats, marmots and deer.

Does Adam get sea sick? I want to take him out on Puget Sound and fish for salmon and then go for a boat ride checking out the sights. Boating is no fun when you are throwing up. If he gets seasick, we will hit a fresh water lake instead. All fishermen smoke cigars, what are your feelings on this?

I know there will be no pork. What else should we be aware of with diet? What are some of his favorite foods? Has he had sushi?

That's all I can think of for now. Hope all is well out there and we can't wait for next Monday when Adam get's in. Tell everyone hello and we will talk soon.

I think it's nice that Mike wants Adam to have a good time. I sent him this reply:

Adam should be ok on a hike and he doesn't get seasick (at least he never has yet). He doesn't like scary rides at amusement parks - but he went today to Busch Gardens - maybe he is over the scary ride thing by now. He can smoke cigars if he wants to (I can't understand why anyone would want to smoke cigars - yuck, but it's his lungs and breath).

Food - no pork, of course. Ramadan will begin around the 23rd. So after that just feed him when the sun sets. He doesn't have to fast while he is travelling so when he goes back to Florida he can eat on the way. I'm not sure if he's eaten sushi or not. Don't worry, don't ask him, just feed him.

I dont think he'll want to get a tatoo or anything peirced - but maybe Andi will convince him.

If you decide you like him, you can keep him.
I wasn't really sure about the 6 mile hike up a 2000 ft elevation... I suppose he'll make it up there.... eventually... hehehe... boot camp!

My family have been very nice about getting Adam to the Friday prayer every week. He's been trying out a new mosque each Friday. Last week he went to an Albanian Mosque and the week before he visited a Lebanese Shiite Mosque. All this has been pretty eye opening for him as in Libya it's all the same thing here. This will be his first Ramadan alone and I think it will be a good experience for him. All kinds of learning going on for Adam - probably more than he would learn at school anyway so I don't feel bad about him missing the first few weeks here.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Free Zone

You know that Libya is going to open up this new 'free zone' between Zawara and Bukamash... It's going to have it's own laws and court system (so they can have all kinds of wild stuff happening there).

Well, I think we all need to cash in on this - real quick like! - Since we're going to burn in hell anyway I think we should die filthy rich! So I suggest we get together and open up the following out there in the free zone: bars, strip joints with lap dancers and pole dancers, a few brothels, a chain of liquor stores, male strip clubs, a casino or two, a tatoo parlour and peircing palace, and a sex toy shop.

Have I forgotten anything?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Taweel bila ghalla

My mom says Adam is 6 foot 3 now! He's gotten taller since he's been gone. Yusef is taller than me now too. A few weeks ago we were the same height but now he's a few inches taller than me. We went out to buy school clothes and I made sure that his trousers were nice and long. They'll be short in no time at the rate he is going.

I've always prayed that my boys would be tall. For the most part, Libyans are short. The tallest man in the world for a long time was a Libyan man, Suleiman Ali Nashnush. He was 8 ft. 1/2 in. tall. I could never really figure that out because this is really the land of short guys - how on earth did that happen? On the other hand, my husband thinks being tall is pretty useless. When I say about someone 'Oh look how nice and tall he is!' he always replies 'Taweel bila ghalla!' which means tall but useless. There is a nursery rhyme about the fingers of the hand - a kind of Arabic version of 'This little piggy' and the middle finger is called Taweel bila ghalla... he's just jealous because he's short - (at least I think so). Ha!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Now that's hot!

What happened in Libya on September 13, 1922?

A world record was made! A temperature of 57.7°C (135.9°F) was recorded in the city of Al 'Aziziyah, the hottest recorded temperature on the surface of the Earth.

I can't imagine what that must have been like for the people that had to live through that day. They must have been miserable! No air-conditioners 84 years ago - and probably no refrigerators or freezers either. I'm not sure how long it was before the weather broke and cooled off, but I am happy I wasn't there.

The weather here lately has been cooler. It rained yesterday and there was even some thunder. It made everything kind of steamy and humid, but there was the feeling that the season has changed and autumn is here at last.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

self portrait (?)

One of my favourite games when I was a kid was Mr Potato Head. Yes... I'm weird - I admit it! Anyway I found something similar but different - Mr. Picassohead. I used it to create this self portrait....

Hey! I don't really look like this - it's supposed to be kinda like something Picasso would have done... or maybe I do look like this....hhmmm... my face is rounder... Anyway, let us see how you look... create your self portrait and put it on your blog.

PS. - Highlander and some of the others are showing us their mobiles (I don't have one to show) the contents of their bags, their feet (I did that one a long time ago - look in the archives), and their closets (mine will have to be cleaned before I let you see it). I'll get on it... if I can find a spare moment or two.... promise...

Monday, September 11, 2006

A bit of history

I was reading an interesting story yesterday about old King Idris's Mercedes Benz. It seems that when he was in exile in Egypt he gave the car to an American man who brought it to the US and used it for many, many years. Finally the man decided to give it back to Libya. And it's being shipped back here.

Photo is a model, not the car described in the story
Why do I find this story interesting? Well, mostly because the era of King Idris is a taboo part of Libyan history. It's ignored. The castle in Dahara that was built for the old King is crumbling as is most anything from that era. So what will become of the King's Mercedes if it comes back here? Will it be put on display in the museum, next to the blue VW?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

In the same boat

Living half a world away is not an easy thing. You miss all the things from home; junk food, conveniences, the sights and smells, flowers and plants, wildlife. But most of all you miss your family and friends. This is especially true during holidays. Last weekend was Labor Day weekend in the US - I imagine there must have been family reunions all over the country.

But more difficult than missing out on holidays is not being there when your family and friends really need you. Like when they are sick, needing a shoulder to cry on and the very worst on the list... death.

Yesterday I got an overseas call from the niece of one of my friends who lives here in Libya. It was bad news. My friend's best friend in the US had passed away. She'd been sick for a while and it had been arranged that the family would let me know first so I could break the news to her in person. It was hard, but I was happy to do it because I know how hard it is to get news like that. It's not something you want to hear over the phone or read in an email. You need someone to be there.

One of the weird things I discovered after living here for a while was how insensitive most Libyans are. If someone from my friends or family in the US dies, few of my in-laws or neighbours here even gives it a second thought - it's just another day in the neighbourhood. For example, when my father died not one person from my mother-in-law's family even called me to express their condolences. I had a few neighbours stop in and some from my father-in-law's side of the family, but mostly my visitors were my friends here - others like me, living here with their Libyan husbands. If I didn't have my friends I would have found myself very alone.

In a way it worked out quite well for me because now I never have to visit any of my mother-in-law's family. If I happen to run into any of them and they ask me why I didn't attend so and so's wedding, or some other family event, I just have to tell them 'They didn't come to me when my father died.' Simple as that - they shut right up.

I've come to depend on my immediate family; my husband, children and my mother-in-law. But mostly I just rely on my friends to get me through things. We're all in the same boat, after all.


I think the garbage collectors in Libya are probably the most organised people in the country! It always amazes me to see how neatly they can stack up all the bags of rubbish in their trucks. I should see about getting my closets as organized - as it is now I can't even close the door on the wardrobe... probably it would be a good idea to get rid of some of my clothes so I have more space. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 09, 2006

a family outing

Yesterday was a day spent with in-laws. My husband's neice had a baby and we were all invited for lunch. She lives outside of Tripoli, nearly an hour's drive away. I suggested taking two cars so that I could drive myself, but dear husband was against this idea. He was the driver for the day. The way there was fine, with only a few arguments over what music we would listen to.

I expected it to be boring (and it was) and brought along some exam papers that I needed to mark. I quietly marked papers while listening to the ladies gossip and chat, the kids ran around or watched cartoons that were blasting away on the television and it seemed as though there were at least a half dozen babies that were all taking turns screaming. Typical chaos.

Lunch was traditional Libyan cous cous, salad and fruit. And there was lots of tea served, of course.

About five o'clock, I had had enough and sent Jenna to tell her father it was time to go. He wanted to stay longer (!) but I reminded him it was going to take an hour to get home. So after the lengthy process of saying goodbye we headed for home.

It was road rage all the way home. A few times I think I saw my life flash before my eyes, (twice I let out a scream - the kids thought it was funny!) but we survived the journey. Next time I am going to insist on driving myself. . . that man I'm married to is a menace behind the wheel, not to mention we have differing opinions about what music to listen to.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Where is this? - #6

Another picture for the 'Where is this?' challenge. If you think you know where it is (or you want to guess) click on comments.

The pictures for the game 'Where is this?' have all been taken from someplace in Libya and are in an area open to the public. The prize for the winner will be the satisfaction of knowing that you had the right answer! - I'll let you know who the winner is.


The winner is Youcef ! He posted this in the comments: Okay, my friend says that it most be the area behind the chrch in Al-Dhahra region...

His friend gave him the answer...but Youcef will get the credit as he posted the comment. Youcef himself is very interested in historic buildings in Libya and has written on his website about historic buildings in Ajdabiyah.

Monday, September 04, 2006


I came across and interesting web-based program that takes search words for Google images and makes them into a photo montage. I had some fun playing with it. First I tried out 'KhadijaTeri' and came up with the image above.

Then I put in the key words 'flower power' and came up with this.

What do you think the key word is for this photo montage?

It's kind of interesting to see what comes out. I'm thinking about using it with my students as a game with vocabulary words. If you want to give it a try yourself, just click on this link: Montage-a-Google Posted by Picasa

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