Monday, December 31, 2007

My year

1. How was this year?

I survived it!

2. Was this year better or worse than last year? How come?

This year was much better than last year. I made some drastic changes in my life (stuff I don't blog about!... and you thought you knew The changes made me a better person, I gained confidence and I found out some things about myself that I didn't know about before (but people would point out - I never believed them until now).

3. What was the happiest thing for you this year?

Seeing my son Ibrahim make huge progress in his school life and behaviour.

4. What was the saddest thing for you this year?

Deaths of friends and family.

5. What was the toughest thing for you this year?

So far I managed to achieve what I set out to do. At the time some things seemed very difficult but when I struggled through and found that in the end nothing seemed that tough afterall. At the beginning of the year I was rearranging things both at work and in freindships. That was hard and stressful, but I came through.

6. What was the best movie for you this year?

I don't watch many movies - but I had a good laugh watching Borat. So funny!

7. What was the best music for you this year?

A friend of mine suggested Vassilis Saleas, a Greek clarinetist. Having spent nine years of my childhood playing clarinet I really appreciated the mastery of this wonderful musician.

8. What was the best TV show for you this year?

Nope... never bother to waste my time on television.

9. What was the best place you visited this year?

Nalut - being invited to attend Nalut's annual festival last April was an honor I will never forget.

10. What was the best food you had this year?

Pizza in Malta with Tara. Pizza Hut delivered to our hotel and we had a feast! I saved some in the mini bar's fridge to eat the next day and it was even great cold for breakfast.

11. What was the best restaurant you went to this year?

In Malta Tara and I went with some friends to a small sidewalk cafe. We leisurely people-watched, enjoyed the weather and had a nice time.

12. What was the most useful thing you bought this year?

My laptop. I don't know how I managed without it in the past.

13. What was the most expensive thing you bought this year?

Again.. that would be my laptop.

14. What was the best item of clothing you bought this year?

For dressing up it would be the outfit I got to wear to my friend's daughter's wedding. For everyday it would have to be a jean skirt that is really comfortable.

15. What was the biggest waste of money this year?

I'm pretty frugal when it comes to most things. I think things out before buying anything. The thing I wasted most on was probably junk food - both for myself and the kids. It's so much easier to stop and buy fast food on the way home from work to eat for dinner - I feel tired by the end of the day and never want to come home to go straight in the kitchen. But the cost adds up, especially if you are feeding eight.

16. What was something you lost this year?

Car keys! I went to visit someone at khadara Hospital and had them in my pocket. When I came out the keys were gone and it was a pain in the neck because they had the car alarm on the key so I had to replace the keys and the alarm too. And I took my time replacing the alarm, only doing it after my car was broken into and the car stereo was stolen.

17. Do you have any regrets about this year? What are they?

Regrets... hmm.. I wish I had gotten to go to the US for a visit to see my family. Hopefully this year.

18. Did you make a New Year's Resolution this year? What is it?

No way! I will only give myself a guilt trip if I don't fulfill my New Year's promise.

So there you have it. Eighteen questions about my year.

I hope you all have a very

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Teenagers are driving me crazy!

'Yusef! You get out of my car right now!' I shout. 'But Mom, I'm only sitting in the car listening to music.' he answers back.

Lately Yusef has this idea that he can go off in my car for a joy ride every time he sees it parked in front of our building. When he's not riding around in my car he's sitting in it with his cousin listening to music.

'You are only thirteen years old! You get out of the car this instant!' I say in a loud and irritated voice. 'I'm fourteen!' says Yusef. 'You are NOT fourteen. Your birthday is not until next month and even so you are still not old enough to drive a car!'

Yusef has been practicing driving his father's truck around the farm. Two weeks ago, on the second day of Eid he lost control of the truck and drove it into a tree, much to the displeasure of his father.

Last night Yusef came in to tell me that he had moved my car in order to wash it and scraped it on the gate. 'It's dark outside Yusef! You never want to wash the car in the daylight. What makes you think I would believe that you would wash the car after dark?' I asked in total disbelief. I'm afraid to go out and look at what he claims is a 'small scrape'. 'Oh, and I knocked my head against the rear-view mirror and it fell off. But it should be easy to fix.' Yusef said sheepishly. How do you knock your head against the rear-view mirror I wondered.

Am I supposed to keep my car keys stuffed safely in my bra? How do you beat your son when he towers above you? I hate shouting at the kids... everyone in the neighbourhood can hear.

Yusef is downstairs 'fixing' the mirror. I can hear that he has turned on the car. He's revving the engine. I'm gonna kill that boy!

I am so fed up with the drama caused by teenagers... sigh

Thursday, December 27, 2007


If you are wandering about the countryside in Libya and come across this plant... stay away from it. It will cause you to itch and scratch like mad.

Been there, done that...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Getting back to a regular routine

Eid is over and we're back to a regular schedule today. I've been trying to straighten up the house and get everything organized again. All the pots and pans and other kitchen things we dragged to the farm have been washed and put back in their places.

What is killing me is the laundry... piles and piles of it! Eight people create lots of laundry. I've been doing it for the last two days. The poor washing machine is ready to surrender. My plan has been to buy a new one when we move. But of course I thought we would have moved ages and ages ago (like at least a year ago or more) .

This morning I took hubby over to the washing machine and pointed out to him that it wasn't going to hold out much longer. Get yourself ready to shell out for a new one soon was my hint for the day. He wanted to know exactly what the problem was... I think he is thinking about hunting down parts for it. The machine has been part of our family for about 12 years. It's surprising that I haven't given it a name.

Back to the laundry.....

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Survived :)

We got to the farm to see the last of the frost on some of the plants. We found a piece of cardboard that had been laying on the grass that was still completely covered in frost, glittering in the morning sunlight. After a while the weather warmed up and Eid went smoothly.

This is a first for us - The first Eid by ourselves (in 19 years). We've always done Eid with the entire family. Every year the family seems to get bigger, and noisier, and with that Eid becomes an unpleasant experience. This year we decided it was time to go it alone and it was wonderful. No crabby sister-in-laws or screaming babies, and best of all no brother-in-laws hanging about, so the girls and I could wear what we liked and leave our hair uncovered. Yeah!!!!

Hubby and the boys slaughtered the lamb and then we got to work. Nora cleaned out the intestines and stomach and we sent it off to my mother-in-law's house so they could make usban (Libyan sausage). I chopped up meat for the freezer, made igliyah (Libyan fried meat), and sliced up meat and hung it up for drying (gadeed). We stuffed ourselves with grilled meat and we ate macrona umbakbaka too. After we were finished with the meat and everything was cleaned up we took showers and then went to give Eid greetings to my in-laws.

I think this is the best first day of Eid we've ever had in Libya. I hope the rest of Eid is just as nice too.

Eid Mubarak!

It's cold this morning in Tripoli.... 2 degrees Celsius (36F). I didn't sleep well because one of my stupid neighbours left their water pump running all night long. Most likely they forgot to turn it off before leaving for the holiday. It's made a high pitched whining sound all night long. Now because of lack of sleep I have a nasty headache and I feel awful.

I hope the mirror over my dresser is lying to me... 'The bags under my eyes aren't real, are they?' I asked my daughter Nora. Why did she just start laughing? Sigh...

Have a great day. Eid Mubarak to all who celebrate!

Monday, December 17, 2007

More on my virtual world

Since my last post I've been busy figuring out Second Life and the virtual Hajj. I had to cover my exposed navel or risk getting possibly thrown out. A nice 'sister' pointed me in the direction of some green duffel bags that had all the gear in them you needed for a virtual Hajj. I had to get rid of the sword that I was walking around with too. I donned my hijab and went in to see what it was all about.

It's actually pretty interesting. All along the way there are information booths that tell you what you are supposed to be doing and you can interact with all the people there. Many are new and have never been to Hajj and others have been many times and are helpful. One 'sister' there said she had done 22 virtual umrahs... lol...

The virtual Hajj is virtually empty! No crowds like in the real one.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

My virtual world

I went out shopping the other evening, leaving Nora in charge of her father and the house. I'd left the computer on so she could chat with her friends on the net. When I came home I found poor Nora near to tears. Apparently her father had been watching Aljazeera and learnt about a virtual Hajj on Second Life. He made her spend her whole Internet time trying to figure it all out. - Imagine that! My husband actually wanting to do something on the Internet! Is this progress?

Nora isn't too Internet savvy so she couldn't figure out how Second Life worked. So I sat down and had a go at it. You've got to join and download a program onto your computer so that you can enter the virtual world of Second Life. After doing this I created my persona.

'How come you didn't choose an Islamic name?' asks hubby. 'Why do I need to have an Islamic name?' was my reply. 'I don't think I need to have a name that associates me with any religion. There is probably discrimination even in a virtual world.' Hubby was also unhappy with my appearance. 'Your navel's showing.' he pointed out. 'That's my business - this is my persona. And guess what. I've decided not to have a husband in my second life.' .... Heheheh... Hubby also wanted to know why everything seemed to move so slowly. 'Ask LTT. It's their fault that the Internet connection is so slow.' was my response. I got busy trying to figure out how to drive a car and fly around and how to make my hair longer. I was taking my time poking about the virtual world. Hubby got bored after a while and decided to go out.

A virtual world is an interesting concept. It could be a useful tool for education if used in the right ways. It also has it's dark side.. but then so does the real world. You can't just walk in and have a virtual Hajj either. There's a time schedule with lectures to attend. Life, either virtual or real, is complicated.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The farm, the house

We went to the house/farm yesterday to see how things were progressing. It was cold and rainy for the most part, but the kids and I took a walk around in between rain showers. Mustafa has recently plowed up all the fields and everything looks clean and neat.

The leaves have fallen off of most of the trees but there are a few that have still got green turning to gold leaves on them.

The hoses that are used for the drip irrigation system have been rolled up to enable the plows to go through. They'll stay rolled up as long as the rainy weather holds out.

The loquat trees are blooming. Their flowers are pretty uninteresting and don't have much aroma. I'm not a huge fan of loquats but as they are easy to grow and their fruit comes out at a time when there isn't much local fruit available. The majority of Libyan farms seem to have at least a few loquat trees. They are pretty much low maintenance as far as trees go - not spectacular, kind of ho hum.

On to the house which is progressing very slowly. The fixtures are being installed in the bathrooms.

Two of the bathrooms have these god-awful Italian fixtures in them. Mustafa got them from a relative who had come back to Libya from abroad and was going to put them in his flat and then decided to go back abroad. He was all excited to get a good price for them. This is the sink and the bidet - the toilet looks pretty much the same. I think it's weird to relieve yourself in something that looks fancier than the dishes we eat off of. Oh well... I guess we can officially call the toilet 'The Throne' from now on.

The rest of the bathrooms have normal fixtures in them... ones that I chose. Plain, easy to clean, and hey... they are functional!

This is the growing rubbish pile. It is even visible on Google Earth. I suppose it will grow larger before the building is finished.

I took this picture yesterday of Jenna and Ibrahim... as usual Ibrahim has a snotty nose... but I love him anyway.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Pioneer Spirit

A friend of mine and I were talking a few years ago about how women who migrate to foreign lands to be with their husbands had a kind of pioneer spirit about them. Not everyone is ready to give up the life they know and plunge themselves into a completely different culture to live out their lives. It takes a certain special kind of woman to be able to survive.

It's not even necessary to go halfway around the world to do that. I've spoken to women from Benghazi who moved to Tripoli to be with their husbands and they go through many of the same changes and feelings even though they are still within their own country. Lately I've been reading this Blog: Confessions of a Pioneer Woman and I am enjoying the similarities of thoughts and feelings. The stories and photography are really great!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Get ready... get set....

I'm starting to hear farm noises in my neighbourhood in the city..... Baaaa! Baaaa!

Yes, you guessed it... Eid is right around the corner. I am gearing up for it. Taking all of next week off work, hoping to take my mother in law out shopping, gotta sharpen the knives and get the pots and pans ready and of course put up the rope to hang the meat out to dry.

Thinking positive here (got the mantra going).... I like Eid... I love Eid....I like Eid... I love Eid....I like Eid... I love Eid.... It's gonna be great...

Baaaa! Baaaa! Baaaa!.......... WaaaaaaaK!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Recovered from gas pains

The gasoline situation seems to be sorting itself out. Last night I went out to find long, long lines at some of the gas stations in my area and other places were completely closed. I didn't bother to get in line. Today I went out and found the gas stations busier than usual but not too bad - so I got in line and filled up.

Sara and I were on the hunt for a winter coat for her to wear. She has a perfectly good, warm brown coat sitting in her closet but the school has decided that they can wear only navy blue or black. We looked high and low and found hardly anything - most were poor quality and wouldn't be warm enough. In one shop I found a man's coat - black, warm, excellent quality and it would fit her. But Sara said 'I am not going to wear a man's coat!'. I bought it anyway figuring either Nora or Yusef would wear it and because the price was right. Of course Nora was delighted with it when she saw it and then Sara decided she wanted one too...sigh... She'll have to get her father to take her for it - I am shopped out for the day.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Who's got gas?

There's a gasoline shortage in Tripoli. That's hard to believe since Libya is an oil producing country. But it's true. The gas stations have no gasoline, though there is diesel.

Rumors are flying as to what's going on. All I know is that I have about a quarter of a tank of gas in my car and it's my day off. I'm not going anywhere because I fear if I use my gasoline I will be walking to work next week.

Oh Joy! I get to spend my day off at home watching hubby watch Aljazero. ..... sigh...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Ghat Festival?

Isn't the Ghat Festival coming up? They never advertise these things and you don't find out about them until after they are over. I know it's sometime the end of December... anyone know when? I want to go.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Cough! Cough! Cough!

I'm developing a cough.... It seems everyone around me is sniffling, coughing and sneezing. I just made it through the flu - I don't need to be sick again. Lemon and ginger tea to the rescue!

It tastes disgusting and burns your throat as it goes down... but it usually works!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I've returned

I'm back from my adventure. Where did I go, what did I do, and who was I with?....

The story begins on Saturday, November 17th, the day I took Ibrahim to the book fair. While at the fair I got a call from my friend Tara who said she was in the hospital with a ruptured Achilles tendon that she got playing squash. The doctors wanted her to have an MRI and suggested she take the results to Malta for emergency surgery. So I dropped Ibrahim off at home and met her at the clinic to wait with her while she was doing her tests. Then, while her husband left to make travel and hospital arrangements, I took her home to help her pack her bags and send her off with her husband to the airport.

She arrived in Malta and went straight to the hospital. The next morning she had surgery; everything going as planned. She was soon able to move out of the hospital and into a hotel. The only problem she faced was that her husband needed to get back to Tripoli for work and she couldn't stay alone - so I came to the rescue and Tara's husband and I switched places.

That in itself was a bit of an ordeal seeing that now everyone needs an Arabic translation in their passport to either enter or exit Libya - and I didn't have the translation. After a bit of a hassle we finally got it done, the embassy allowing it because of the circumstances. It was a headache but it got done. Off I went to Malta.

I arrived to find poor Tara, set up in her room with her leg propped up; cigarettes, the remote control, chips and junk food, cell phone and beer assorted beverages in easy reach.

Her room was conveniently located right next to mine so when she needed me she would just bang on the wall with her crutches and start yelling 'Teri! Teri!' I need a ...... !' and I would come and get her what ever it was she needed.

We couldn't really do too much more than hang around the room, which was fine with me. We had our laptops, internet and Tara had some new video games to play. Sometimes we watched TV. I had the luxury of my very own room and bathroom!

When you have six kids you NEVER get to be in the bathroom for long. Someone will start banging on the door asking to get in almost immediately - so this was wonderful! I had long showers and baths without anyone knocking on the door or hearing anyone fighting and arguing outside the door either .... it was bliss!

We did manage to go out a few times. Sometimes we met up with some Maltese friends that Tara knew. I suggested getting a wheelchair but Tara flat out refused this idea. So off she crutched. It was slow going. She would get about 4 metres and have to stop to rest.

Not being able to get around meant that mostly we went to cafe's and restaurants. Relaxing, stuffing ourselves with good food and enjoying the pleasant weather. Reading a newspaper was an added treat!

We didn't see much of Malta. It's a place with a mixture of old and new. There are churches everywhere and we left our balconies open so we could hear the church bells ring.

The buildings are mostly old and made from quarried sandstone. The streets are narrow and the sidewalks paved in bricks.

Mixed in with this are modern hotels and shops built with marble and shiny glass.

The reflexion in the glass of the old building across the street makes this picture interesting... the old with the new.

Malta is also beginning to get geared up for Christmas. There were some trees decorated and nativity scenes set up. It's been ages since I had seen that.

After a few days the doctor signed the papers saying Tara was fit enough to travel and we came back to Libya safe and sound. She'll have to return later for follow up care. I was so happy to be able to help out my friend.

The kids were happy to have me back. They dug through my bags more efficiently than any customs officer looking for their prizes. Malta unfortunately is ridiculously expensive so I didn't bring home much. But they were happy with the few small things I got for them.

[click on images for enlargements]

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Off on an Escapade

I'm hoping to go off tomorrow on an adventure.

It's a holiday tomorrow (Thanksgiving) but I'm not going to be doing any holiday celebrating... at least I don't think so. There will be NO CHILDREN OR HUSBAND involved in this adventure either.

Eventually I may decide to get around to blogging about my mysterious adventure... I'll let you wait in suspense...

I'm going to further drive you crazy by not allowing any comments on this post. Lately people have been abusing the comment feature of my blog and let me tell you this:


So have a nice Thanksgiving for all of you who celebrate it - Stuff your tummies with delicious turkey, creamy gravy and sinfully rich pie! Mmmmm yummy! Enjoy your families and count your many blessings.

For the abusers of the comment section of my blog:

I'm off.... having an adventure... be back soon... maybe....

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Feeling better now

I think I've recovered from my bout with the flu. The rest of us who were sick with it have recovered as well.

Tomorrow starts mid-term exams for Jenna and Yusef.

I took Ibrahim to the book fair today to give the others a chance to study. Ibrahim behaved perfectly at the fair. I was so proud of him. He never left my side, held my hand most of the time and only touched things when I said it was ok. It was wonderful!

The book fair was OK too. Most of the books were in Arabic but there were quite a few books in English, both for academic reading and for pleasure. Ibrahim got a book and four hand puppets; a man with fuzzy black hair, a woman wearing an abayah, a child and a giraffe. We played with the puppets this evening, using them to work on some of the pronunciation problems Ibrahim has. We had fun.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Stunning Photography of Libya

There is some stunning photography of Libya on Eric Lafforgue's website.

Makes me want to get out my camera and keep working towards taking better pictures! His shots are lovely!

Still hanging in there

I'm still sick. One minute I feel like I'm freezing; teeth chattering and the next minute I feel as though I'm sitting in a hot steam bath. It hurts to swallow and of course the kids have found where I was hiding the throat lozenges and they have finished them all.

This morning while I was laying in bed I heard them all in the kitchen discussing how the microwave oven was broken. They were trying to turn it on, pushing all the buttons, unplugging it and plugging it back in again. Nothing worked. Maybe the microwave has the flu too.

Then hubby decided it was time to defrost the freezer. This is his big job. I refuse to do it because it was his choice to buy the cheaper model refrigerator. I mean really! I think it is amazing that they even make refrigerators that have to be defrosted in this day and age. So while I was 'resting' in bed he was banging on the built up ice with a hammer (and cursing).

I finally dragged myself out of bed around 10:30. No one had remembered to give Ibrahim his medicine and now he's flying around the house like a tornado. The house looks bad... really bad! But I don't have the energy to yell at the kids to get the place straightened up. There are dishes in the living room and clothes and toys have been thrown all over the place. MBC 3 is blasting out cartoons and the kids are all sitting around without a care in the world.

Hubby mentioned today that his friend's wife died a while back and they had six kids. He said his friend was looking for a replacement wife. Hmmm... what did he mean by saying that?

I am going to pull myself together and try to get to work today. Maybe by the time I get home tonight a miracle will have happened and the house will be clean again and the microwave will be working again too.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I feel awful

I've got the flu. It's been ages since I've had the flu and I had forgotten how miserable it makes you feel. This morning I didn't get out of bed until about eleven o'clock (instead of the usual seven). Of course the whole time I was trying to sleep hubby kept coming in and telling me I had to get up, insisting the whole time that I was just being lazy and I was imagining that I was sick. Mothers are never allowed to be sick (his opinion, not mine).

I dragged myself into the kitchen thinking if I downed a cup of coffee or two I would feel better. Did it work? No.

I'm going to get something from the pharmacy around the corner. I am too busy to be sick. I have a million things to do. I will push myself through the day and collapse at the end of it.

I feel awful.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I have a new boyfriend!

Today I was on the computer checking my mail and reading news and blogs. Over my shoulder I heard 'Who is this guy Mark Read?' I turned and looked at hubby and asked 'Whaaaaaat?' He glared at me and said 'Yeah! Mark Read. You've got all kinds of emails from him.'

'I don't know what you are talking about.' I said. The only Mark I know is my mother's neighbour's son and I don't think I have ever received an email from him. There is another Mark I know of - that's our neighbourhood tomcat who I have named Mark because he leaves his scent all over everything. I know for sure that I don't get any emails from Mark the cat.

Hubby was insistent that I was communicating with Mark Read. 'Look on your computer. His name is all over the place!' So I turned and looked. Sure enough I saw Mark Read..... On the Bloglines RSS feedreader I use there is a place that says Mark Read with a check box next to it on every entry so that you can note which posts have been read and which haven't.

Men are such idiots.... sigh....

Friday, November 09, 2007

I have eaten way too many sweets!

My friend's daughter got married and the bride wanted my girls to be bridesmaids. They all wore specially made pink satin dresses and they all looked lovely! They've been planning this for months and it all turned out just perfect. Of course I took lots of pictures and the girls all said 'Don't blog us!' but I couldn't resist this picture of Jenna sitting at the bride's feet. She looked so cute!

After the bride's party I went with the bride (at her request) to the groom's house. She said ' Oh please Aunt Teri you've gotta come with me.' So off we went, following the bride's car... Beep! Beep! Beep! all the way there.

They had the most awesome wedding cake! Covered in marzipan and filled with chocolate and hazelnuts. The bride found it on the internet and had it made here. Yummmmmmy!

Tonight is the last night - The Mahdar. I'm tired but I'll go. Gotta be there for 'my niece'.

Furniture ideas

Hmmm... sometimes I wish I was a dog!... hehehehe...

Watch the video and find out why. I found this when I was looking for
furniture ideas for the room next to the garage that will be used as a
guestroom/office. Click the Watch Video button on the website.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Work in Progress!

There are banners up all around the Medina in Tripoli proclaiming the area's renovation projects. Actually work has been underway for quite some time now.

The Medina is part of Libya's heritage and deserves to be preserved, not only as an attraction for tourism but mostly for the pride of Libya's citizens. The ancient sites and mosques contained in the old city as well as the bazaars are visited and utilized daily by both tourists and local people. Preservation of the area is key to its continued existence.

The city dates back to the 7th century BC when it was founded by the Phoenicians and named Oea. Its name changed over the years; the Romans called the city Regio Syrtica and later Regio Tripolitana which in modern times became known as Tripoli, the Arabic pronunciation being Tarabulis. The Medina has been continuously inhabited and evidence of the ancient Roman and Ottomon periods as well as the more recent Italian colonial period are readily evident throughout the city.

Marcus Aurelius Arch constructed during the Roman period. A mosque from the Ottoman period that is being worked on can be seen in the background.

Adjacent to the Old City is the Green Square. This building from the Italian colonial era faces the square. Scaffolding is cleverly covered with netting that is imprinted with how the final renovations will appear.

One main problem seen is the amount of time it takes to restore buildings back to their original appearance. In some areas the work has been going on for over a year, causing shopkeepers to lose money as well as being possible sources of safety hazards. Importance must be placed on completing the projects in a timely manner.

Another banner.

Mind you don't fall!

This area of the Medina's bazaar has the roof falling in. Certainly this would deter visitors who might fear for their safety by passing underneath.

This area directly behind the Red Castle has been torn up for well over a year. It is the main gateway leading to the Old City.

More views of the area. The taxpaying shopkeepers in this area have been losing revenue because the road has been torn up for so long.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Happening now

  • Ibrahim is swimming in the bathtub
  • Jenna is decorating her notebooks and watching TV
  • Sara is washing the dishes
  • Nora is sleeping
  • Yusef is watching TV
  • Hubby is out buying vegetables I hope (he gets off track all the time)
  • Adam is at his grandmother's house
  • and I am taking a break from marking papers, checking my email and chatting with friends
OK... back to work!

Friday, November 02, 2007

It's time to pay the phone bill again...

A few days ago I picked up the phone to make a call and heard the lovely voice of Fatima Omar... 'Time to pay the phone bill again', she said on the recorded message. For a few days the phone company lets you receive calls but not make them. Then they shut off the service until you pay.

I think my teen-aged daughters have the telephone glued to their ears from the minute they get home from school until late. I have even had the phone ring at 1 am and have had to tell Nora's friends that they are not allowed to phone her after 9pm. But they call anyway. One particular girl is a nuisance. I have threatened to send my husband to have a talk with her father. At one point we unplugged the telephone and locked it up.

In a way I feel bad because in Libya girls don't have much of a social life. It's not like they can go hang out at the mall together or meet for a pizza. If my daughters want to visit their friends arrangements must be made. You have to take them to their friend's house, make sure that you speak to the other mother to confirm that your daughter is going to be safely chaperoned for the duration and then arrange to pick the girls up. Of course if they visit their friends you have to expect that the visit will be repaid. This is not a just pop over to visit deal... elaborate snacks and sweets must be bought or prepared and it will be a visit that lasts hours. Uuuugh! So maybe a visit via telephone is easier.

Now that the phone is off the girls are holding their school books in their hands instead of their phone books. Soon though I expect the idea of inviting all their friends over is going to pop into their heads.

Should I pay the bill?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Amusing ourselves

The last few weekends I've been trying to take the kids out and see what's available around town for them to do. A week ago we went to the zoo. Of course, we'd been there many times in the past but we hadn't been there for a while so we thought we would try it again.

We arrived at the gates to the parking lot and there seemed to be a huge amount of men of various ages hanging about and going in. Sometimes the zoo's grounds are used for exhibitions and such so I thought this might be the reason. Upon entering we found that there was indeed something going on, but of the unsavory sort. The place had quite a few families and women with their children, but mostly there were prostitutes and their customers hanging about - all of them busy bluetoothing - a craze that's emerging in Libya.

I decided that since we were already there we might as well make the most of it so we walked around to see what animals were there. Sadly, there were few animals (except the human kind) to look at. The cages and enclosures were mostly empty. The playground area was just crawling with creepy looking guys and most of the benches were taken over by 'businesswomen'. We didn't stay long. I was so disgusted that I didn't even bother to get out my camera. Maybe if the park made a rule that only families and males accompanying families be allowed entry this situation could be put under control and the park would become a nice place to take children again. As for us, we will avoid the zoo from now on except to possibly go very early on a Friday morning.

This weekend we decided to try the new amusement park along the seafront next to the port. An Italian company is behind this enterprise, the rides were mostly being operated by Italians. It was kind of funny to hear them shouting out in a mixture of Italian and Arabic - 'Meeya Meeya!', 'Pronto! Pronto!'.

There was a nice assortment of rides to suit all ages, some games of chance, fast food stands, cotton candy and popcorn, all set to really loud music, mostly with a strong techno beat (which I like!). The park was clean and there were benches to sit on as well and grassy areas that families could either sit in groups on the grass or at tables that were set up.

I did notice that most people were just watching the rides and not riding themselves. Each ride costs a dinar or a dinar and a half depending on the type of ride. Typical Libyans with their low salaries would find this very expensive. For example, I didn't see even one of my students there. I usually meet students where ever I go, but they tell me that they usually don't go to places like this because they've made the choice to spend their money on their education instead. Most of the visitors in the park were families with small children, young people and older people with their grandchildren. While we were there I didn't notice any obvious 'businesswomen' and there weren't a lot of middle aged and older men hanging about either. I did notice a police stand located at the entrance.

We'll probably return to the park in the future after we've saved up enough to enjoy more of the rides.

I found taking pictures at the amusement park challenging. The lighting and the speed of the rides were difficult to catch, especially as I had my kids to look out for a the same time. But I did manage to get some interesting shots. I'm usually a bit leery of taking pictures with people in them but for some reason no one seemed to mind.

Jenna jumping on the trampolines - she really liked this a lot.

Red in the face and resting after jumping!

Bump! Bump! Bumper Cars!

I think Ibrahim liked this ride the best.

People watching and waiting. I didn't notice anyone pushing or shoving -a totally new experience for me here in Libya where that behavior is the norm.

Jenna and Ibrahim loved the swings - they went so fast. Rode them twice.

This ride looked a bit boring - just up and down and round and round.


These two girls were waiting patiently for the ride to begin.


I've never been on this ride.

Fruit juice.

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