Monday, April 30, 2007


Yesterday I was on my way up the stairs to my apartment when my husband's nephew called out to me and said his mom wanted to talk to me. Since my sister in law and I normally avoid each other it could mean either one of two things... (1) someone in the family died and she needed to tell me about it, or (2) something from my apartment was leaking into hers.

It turned out to be a leak. Something in my kitchen. From the looks of it the main drainpipe going from under the kitchen sink, had sprung a leak.

I went upstairs and informed my husband. First he said 'She's imagining the leak.' - the denial phase. Then he decided that we'd just shut off the water in the kitchen and wash dishes in the bathroom from now on. ... Since I no longer wash dishes (that's the girl's job now) the girls were none too pleased. Now dear husband has decided he is a plumber.... sigh... he will get into his DIY mode and attack the problem himself.

Hopefully soon he will give up and hire a plumber. In the meantime I am doing my best to control my temper because if I lose it there will be more than just a leaky pipe to deal with... there will be a man in my house with a LEAK IN HIS BLOODY HEAD!!!!!!!

Friday, April 27, 2007

No Open Source Laptops in Libya This Year

This is a picture of Nigerian children booting up their open source laptops (cnet - It was supposed to be happening this year in Libya too but it didn't ... what happened??? We were looking forward to it... promises, promises... sigh...


We bought some strawberries today. They were so red and sweet that not a bit of sugar was needed.

Jenna ... freckle faced girl!

Silly! Yummy!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Nearly time for final exams...

It's nearly final exam time for the kids. This is the time of year that I hate - the final push to the end of the school year.

Are the kids studying? Right now... at this very moment? No. Of course not!

Nora is on the phone talking to one of her friends - it's been a marathon conversation that I've been eavesdropping on. What are they discussing... nothing.

Sara, Yusef and Jenna are planted in front of the television. MBC2 has something mesmerizing on. Before that they were watching cartoons and before that it was playstation 2.

Adam, who is in the final year of high school, has done nothing but listen to music and pick fights with his siblings all evening.

Ibrahim has been flyinjg around, full speed ahead. He's been up to his usual tricks; taking the broom and running through the house beating things with the stick part, playing in the sugar bowl, water games in the bathroom and terrorizing the cat.

I've decided that I'm not going to interfere with their refusal to sit down and study. If they want to fail school it's their problem. They can spend next year in the same level if they don't pass... sigh....

I'm going to try to get through their exams without shouting, yelling or getting upset.... for some reason I don't think I will be able to pull that off.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Business is Booming in Libya

Since the end of economic sanctions in Libya there's been a flood of all kinds of products into the country. Shops are full of all kinds of things from all over the world. There's been a plethora of personal hygiene products. A fantastic selection of hair care products and soaps can be found on store shelves.

Libyan women are all for improving their appearance these days too. Coloured contact lenses are popular, as are all shades of hair dyes and bleach. It seems they want to be as white a possible - you can find all kinds of creams promising to whiten and lighten. Lately I've been seeing some unusual merchandise in the shops. Are Libyan women really buying this stuff???

This will make you white....

and this soap will whiten your armpits...

Having white armpits must be a big concern for Libyan women because there are lots of different products claiming to give quick results. I don't ever remember my husband commenting on the colour of my armpits... I guess that means they are the right colour.

For some reason I think this would never work for me.... Maybe you're supposed to eat it to become slimmer.

This one claims to be a USA best seller!

Firm - they've got to be firm... with aloe vera and cucumbers.

More quick results, this time for body wrinkles. If this works as good on your stomach as claimed by the picture imagine what it would do to those nasty wrinkles women get around their eyes!

I think this is hilarious - pink nipple cream! All day confidence! And only in one week!

OK. I've saved the best one for last. Virginity wash.... I am mystified by this one. Do you use it to maintain your virginity? Or use it when you lose it? Or is this supposed to be used to restore your virginity? It costs six dinars - that would be a cheap fix for the girls who have lost it before their wedding night.... hmm... wonder what would happen if I tried it?... hmmm... naaa.. I've got six kids! lol

Does anyone really use any of this stuff?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Weekend

It was a quiet Friday. Yesterday Adam took his friends to the farm for a picnic. It was nice having one less teenager in the house, especially since Adam seems to be the one that has been getting on my nerves the most lately. I stayed home with the rest of the kids, only going out in the evening for the daily trip to the bakery to buy bread.

Today I got up early and roused everyone in the house out of their beds. I decided it would be a good day to do some spring cleaning. Sorting out junk and dusting all the nooks and crannies of everything in sight. No one was particularly thrilled with the idea of cleaning house, but I was on a mission and nothing was going to get in my way......

I think everyone in my family hates me now..... too bad - a mother's got to do what a mother's got to do!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Busy Saturday

Today's been a day of running here, there and everywhere. First thing was getting my hair trimmed. Now I feel human again. After that it was a run and a dash to the vegetable market, supermarket and computer store. Got home and cooked lunch and then packed the girls in the car and took them to the International Fair. We met my friend Tara there out in front at the fountain and went in together.

This year the fair is boring. They're selling basically the same stuff as they were selling last year. One thing that was weird was that I didn't find any African countries except for the north African ones. Maybe I just wasn't looking in the right places or something.

Last year I missed out on the American pavilion because it was closed when I went. So this year I wanted to see it. We got there and a guy was standing in front of the door. He said it was closed. 'What? Why's it closed?' He said it would open at five o'clock. 'OK. So, do you speak English?' our conversation so far had been in Arabic. 'No English.' he replied. 'How come your working for the American pavilion and you don't speak English?' I wanted to know. Nora said 'Mom! leave the poor guy alone. Stop giving him a hard time.' hmm... 'Subhanallah!' I said, and the guy started laughing 'Now those are some strong words!' he said.

We went off and looked some more around the fair. It was kind of depressing. Tara had a few shopping moments (she didn't go to the fair last year) but other than that it was pretty dull. We went back to the American pavilion after five. When we got there it was still closed, with that same pitiful looking guy guarding the door. 'I'm very upset with you.' I told him. 'First you don't speak English and now you can't tell the time either. Look at my watch.' I said, holding out my wrist. 'What time is it?' he replied 'Five fifteen.'  'You see! I was right!' I said 'You cannot tell time! It's not five fifteen it's ten after five. So what is this supposed to mean? Sigh... No English, can't tell the time... or maybe your just lying about the pavilion opening.' He just laughed and said 'No it's gonna open. It is.'

Later on we did finally get to see the American pavilion. It was dead boring. Actually the whole thing was a waste of time. So take my advice - save the quarter that it cost you to get in there to buy bread or something useful.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Nalut Spring Festival - 2007

Everyone wants to know where I was off to last weekend. Well, I'm getting caught up with the laundry and back into my usual routine and now I can spare a few minutes to sit down and post about my recent adventure. (click on images to see them enlarged)

I was invited to visit Nalut for the Nalut Annual Spring Festival. Download brochure here This is the fourth year that the festival has been held and one of committee members who is an avid reader of my website and blog invited me to come for the festival.

Nalut on Google Earth

I was thrilled to be invited and I asked my friend Tara to come along. We had originally planned to have a weekend away from husbands and kids. Tara's husband said 'Have a nice time.' my husband said 'What? Are you serious? There is no way that you are going un-chaperoned! What will people think?' Aaahhhh... he's sooooo Libyan! Change of plans - we would have to drag along husbands. And then the day we were to leave Tara's husband had to stay in Tripoli and Mustafa got the great idea to take Jenna and Ibrahim in his place.... God forbid that I actually have some peace and quiet in my life... sigh...

The ride out was uneventful. It takes about four hours to drive there from Tripoli. We started out at about two o'clock, driving through rush hour traffic to the outskirts of the capitol. Soon we found ourselves in farmland and later in rocky, hilly areas leading to the mountains. We detoured to take a drive through Kabow. The road snaked back and forth through the mountains and the view was fantastic.

View looking down from the mountain in Kabow

Nalut is in the Nafusa Mountains and is approximately 2,000 feet (610 M) above sea level.Halfway up the mountain that leads to the city of Nalut a welcome station was prepared for travellers entering the city. A tent was set up next to a small mosque with a group of people serving dates, fresh buttermilk and ibsisa (a mixture of spices and nuts that are roasted and ground into a fine powder. Oil and water is added and it's mixed into a paste). Clean bathrooms, fresh water and a sitting area were provided for women and men. The welcoming committee had answers to any questions that visitors might have and it was a lovely beginning to the generous hospitality offered by the people of Nalut.

The road leading into Nalut (looking down from the top)

We proceded up the zig-zag road to the town located at the top of the mountain to see the festival that was already in progress. The whole town had turned out to celebrate. We watched a presentation of camels carrying traditional baskets filled with grains and dried figs. After a while we met Abdulmonem, my contact from the organizing committee. He and Adel, another Naluti arranged for our accommodation and took special care of all our needs for our three-day stay. I cannot say enough wonderful things about the hospitality of Abdulmenom, Adel and all of the people of Nalut. They were simply the best!

Every aspect of the event was well planned. The entire city turned out and everyone volunteered their time and efforts - everyone from the Boy Scouts to the Red Crescent helped out as well as ordinary citizens. The committee members said planning for the event took about five or six months of hard work and everyone in the town helped out.

Libyan Boy Scouts

Libyan Red Crescent

Children were everywhere! Nearly everyone wore traditional clothing.

DAY TWO was a visit to the old city of Nalut where a traditional crafts market was set up. Then we toured the Qsar.

Man weaving baskets

The finished baskets

Olive oil!

Decorative handicrafts

Various handwoven woolen goods were on sale

Traditional snacks were sold

Examples of a camel driven oil press were shown as well as this simple method of using a large boulder and rolling it over the olives to release the oil.

In the old mosque the boys were learning to read and write Quran the old fashioned way using wooden boards and cane pens dipped in ink

In the past the people of Nalut stored their stocks of food in a well protected and fortified Qsar. The Qsar is several centuries old. The people survived by following their flocks to various grazing lands and they needed a safe place to store their food and supplies. Each family owned a small room in the Qsar. A maze of pathways leads through the Qsar and small roughly hewn wooden doors made from the trunks of date palms cover the openings of the rooms. Ladders and stairways reach to rooms high above and a system of ropes, pulleys and woven baskets helped move foodstuffs such as grain, olive oil, dried figs, dates and even dried and salted meats to the rooms high up in the Qsar. Rooms range from very small to quite large and many of them still have huge clay storage pots inside.

The entrance to the Qsar

The doors to each room are small

Detail of the doors

The system of ropes, pulleys and baskets used to move goods to room at the top of the Qsar

Clay storage pots were used to store food

Not only were people of Nalut represented at the festival but also neighbouring areas of Libya; a display of crafts and jewelry of the Tuareg's of the south of the country and also some musicians from Tunisia.


Tuareg jewelry and handicrafts

On the third and last day we paid a visit to an exhibit of geological findings of the area. The fossil remains of a dinosaur estimated at being 70 million years old was found about one kilometer from Nalut on a site that was used for excavating sand for building purposes. This discovery has brought many researchers to Nalut from all over the world. [Washington University article] Some of the specimens were on display as well as documentation and pictures. Geologists were on hand to answer anyone's questions.

Afterwards we headed to see some troglodyte dwellings. These man-made caves were used as houses in the past because they offered perfect protection for the former generations of Nalut's inhabitants from the heat of the summer and cold of the winter. Inside were exhibits of traditional crafts, clothing, old documents and many different aspects of the ways the people lived in the past. There was also an art show of paintings, sculpture and pottery done by contemporary Libyan artists.

There are openings in places in the roof of the dwellings to allow light and ventilation

Examples of weaving traditional garments

Traditional jewelry was also displayed

Each room of the cave showed another part of life. Here is some examples of different games.

Some of the art exhibited by contemporary Libyan artists

Next was a visit to a traditional camping site set up at the bottom of the mountain. In each tent were shown different features of life, cooking, basket weaving, and clothing. All was accompanied by women and girls singing and beating on drums.

Looking down the mountain at the view of the encampment below

Details of the tent's structure

Women and girls singing and displaying various types of traditional foods

Tents offered dark shade and protection from the heat of the strong sun's rays

Examples of cooking and food

More dancing and music was represented by the Tunisians, including one who danced with ten clay pots balanced on his head!

Colourful Tuaregs danced and had mock battles.

Then we went to visit the natural springs. In the past this was the place where the girls would go to fill their supplies of drinking water. It's shady there with plenty of trees. The water is clear, cold and sweet.
A cool place to play!

I really want to thank the people of Nalut for the wonderful event, especially our guides and helpers; Abdulmenom and Adel, who were so patient with us, answering our millions of questions and providing us with a perfect weekend. Accommodations were super, the food was fabulous. I can't praise you enough. May Allah reward you all!

Our guides during our visit

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