Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It just stinks!

We've been out on the farm for a little over a month now. We're adjusting to things such as the drive into town, mosquitoes, how to manage our garbage in an area where there is no garbage collection, and sorting out how to get four kids to four different schools that all begin at the same time.

Yesterday in the late afternoon I noticed a tank truck pulling into the neighbour's farm. It was the kind of truck they use for pumping out septic tanks and they are a common sight in my area because no one here is connected to a sewer system - we all have septic tanks. When your septic tank is full you go out and get a tank truck to come out and empty it.

What happens next? Sometimes the driver will unload the contents into the sewer system, usually by pulling over the side of a main road and opening the grate that covers the sewer and pumping out the tank. Yeah! But more often than not, the drivers just drive along the road and unload their tank of human waste on the side of the road. And then there are farmers who are happy to have the poop trucks come and unload on their farms so they can use it as fertilizer.

Why do farmers use human waste as fertilizer? Well, for one thing it's much cheaper than commercially made fertilizer. It keeps the costs for the farmers down which in turn helps keep the costs of produce down for consumers. Using human waste as fertilizer is a common practice in developing countries while the use of human waste is illegal in most developed countries.

But is using untreated human feces as fertilizer safe? In most cases, the excrement is used on cereal or grain crops, which are eventually cooked, minimizing the risk of transmitting water-borne pathogens and diseases. But when used on crops that will be eaten raw and unwashed by consumers there is a risk of produce absorbing disease-causing bacteria. It's estimated by WHO that nearly 2.2 million people worldwide die each year because of diarrhea-related diseases, including cholera, and more than 80 percent of those cases are due to contact with contaminated water and a lack of proper sanitation. Aside from bacteria there are also risks of parasitic worm infections, such as Ascaria since the larvae are found in feces and human waste also contains antibiotics and other medicines that are excreted by the body. Do the benefits outweigh the risks?

Apart from possible dangers there is also the wonderful aroma! Forget about having a cookout, or relaxing on the patio with a tall glass of iced tea and a good book, until the odor dissipates I am stuck indoors. It's one more thing to get used to out on the farm.

And it's just something to think about when you stop at the vegetable stand this week... sigh..

Sunday, September 27, 2009

On the road again...

I've finally got ALL the kids back in school.... As of today I officially regain the title:


Pray for me please!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The End of Eid

The kids convinced me that we should bring some of their cousins home with us so they could run around on the farm. I think during the entire month of Ramadan I walked around on the farm just once! It was too hot. But today the weather was nice, especially in the evening so we had a look around.

The weeds have mostly dried up and turned brown from the summer sun. And the leaves on the trees are just beginning to turn. Within a month or so they will be falling off the trees. Could I smell the scent of autumn? Maybe faintly... the weather is cooling off slightly.

About four months ago we planted a mulberry tree. When it was planted it was just a stick - no branches or leaves to be seen. It's doing really well!

Sorghum... well watered it looks so nice and green.

The sunset was amazing. The kids had a nice time in the fresh air.

Later the weather changed... it poured rain and then the electricity went out. There was strong winds, lightening and thunder. The kids jumped up and down like a bunch of baboons... the dogs got nervous and started jumping up and down too. Kids screaming, dogs barking... sigh.... no chance to enjoy the weather.

It's time to pack the cousins into the car and take them home. Another Eid is over.

Almost over...

Eid has been pretty much uneventful. We've done the usual stuff at my inlaws and I've sat and sat and sat on the cushions until my bottom is numb and my legs ache. Masha'allah, the family keeps getting bigger; every year there at least five new babies. So there are kids everywhere! I told my mother-in-law that soon enough we'll have to rent a wedding hall for Eid so that we'd all fit... masha'allah!

My plan for today is to arrive late and leave early. I've had lots of experience with the last day of Eid! Day three is when the real fun begins; the sister-in-laws have no new clothes to ooohh and ahhh about and by then they are all tired of looking at each other. First they make a few snide remarks to one another and soon enough the arguments break out. Amazing that only two days ago they were kissing each other and asking each other for forgiveness! lolol... They've learned long ago that I'm not interested in taking sides with anyone or getting involved in any way. I just sit quietly and observe and thank God that I don't live in the same building.

I'm ready for Eid to be over. The only things I have planned for this week is a birthday breakfast for a dear friend and to pick up the computer that I ordered last week. So you can guess what I will be doing then... installing programs. :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

What day is it today?

Lots of Libyans are continuing the fast of Ramadan today despite the announcement of Eid which was issued at the mosques during the Friday prayers. Many state that Eid cannot be announced until the new moon is sighted and this would be impossible so early in the day on Friday. So Libya is divided over this issue; mosques called For Eid prayers and many Libyans ignorred the call.

It feels very weird.

Posted from moBlog – mobile blogging tool for Windows Mobile

Friday, September 18, 2009

Warm wishes...

Another Ramadan has come to an end.
Best wishes to all for a very safe and peaceful Eid!

Eid Mubarak!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Night blooms & the end of a special month

The last few days were scorching hot and very dusty. In fact, yesterday it was so dusty that you couldn't see the sun. Today the weather cleared and I went out in the garden and had a look around. I noticed that one of my cacti was getting ready to bloom. It's flowers open in the evening but by the next day they wilt and fall off. So we brought it inside and put it on the windowsill next to my desk so we could enjoy it while it lasted.

Ramadan is nearly over. My mother-in-law came this evening to see how the house was progressing and she said that Eid would be on Saturday. She said it was mentioned on TV. We haven't been watching TV this month.

At the beginning of Ramadan we bought a new satellite dish and receiver but we never bothered to install it. We've spent the entire month without TV... it's been truly wonderful. Actually we enjoyed not having TV so much that we might just forgo TV during Ramadan every year.

I'll have to go out tomorrow and do some shopping. The last day before Eid is a madhouse with lots of traffic and everyone pushing and shoving to get everything done. I'll be right in there with them!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Please oh please oh pretty please!

Can someone create a Libyan version of the website People Of Walmart?

It could be called People Of Suk Mahari. I see the weirdest stuff whenever I go to Suk Mahari. I'm either staring in disbelief or laughing, or doing my darnedest not to laugh... I especially like the country bumpkins that are visiting Tripoli and it's like maybe their first time in a supermarket in their entire life .... hehehe... Actually it doesn't have to be limited to Suk Mahari.

I see weird stuff all the time here. lololol.. I've had another experience with a flasher this Ramadan (too bad I didn't have my camera) and lots of beggars, but so far no pickpockets. I've seen lots of strange looking people and cars and people wearing weird things. It's funny when you see someone wearing a t-shirt with something written on it in English and you know FOR SURE that the person wearing it has NO IDEA WHATSOEVER what it says. Or stickers on cars. Once I saw a religious looking guy (with a beard down to his navel) riding in a car with Rainbow Pride Flags plastered on the bumper. Obviously he had no idea what it meant.. he probably thought it was pretty...hehehe..

Actually I've been avoiding doing the regular kind of shopping lately. Most of my shopping has been focussed on furniture and thankfully those shops aren't crowded and most people there seem pretty normal.

Today I took the kids shopping for school uniforms. I drove directly to the shops behind the Eye Hospital and informed the kids 'This is your one and only chance. I'm not taking you anyplace else. If even one kids says 'Ewe!' then we leave that shop immediately and move on to the next one.' We attacked the row of shops with a no nonsense approach on one side of the street and then crossed the road and did the same in the shops on the other side of the road. In less than an hour everyone had a uniform. After that we went to Rox and got sneakers (they've always got something in plain black there). We were on a mission! I made sure we weren't shopping long enough to notice if anyone looked weird... probably we did! lol

Our next adventure will be to get Eid clothes. It will be more difficult. With the school uniforms we were looking for specific things. I've been dreading this, but now I'm going to take the People Of Walmart approach and try to spice up the Eid shopping by noticing the bizarre and weird around me. Off I go! On another adventure...

Friday, September 11, 2009


The weather has been wonderful the last two days and is expected to stay about the same for a while – we even had some rain and most of the time I’ve had the ac turned off.

The kids have rigged up a simplistic kind of go-cart and have been riding it back and forth on the drive way area of the garden. By children I mean ALL of them, including the one that’s in university…. The wheels make a clack, clack, clacking noise and the girls are squealing and giggling. Being out here in the farm makes you forget that you have neighbours because they are so far away. I keep reminding the kids that the sound carries on the wind and the neighbours can in fact hear them quite clearly. But they don’t seem to care and from the noise we hear coming from the neighbours house it seems as though the kids there don’t care either. In a few weeks they will be back at school so I’m letting them have fun.

I’m adjusting to life in the countryside. There are lots of changes to make in one’s life when you move to the boonies. Firstly, there are no shops nearby – you need a car to get even simple things like a loaf of bread. So anytime we go anywhere we make sure to get what we need on the way. I’ll have to get a deep freezer for stocking up too. We have one cabinet in the kitchen designated as the guest cabinet where we have a supply of juice and cookies and other things in there in case someone drops by. When we lived in town I would just send one of the kids to the grocery shop, the pastry shop, the pizza place or another fast food shop – all right around the corner. In minutes we had something… sigh. I think this is one thing that will take some getting used to. So far the kids have been pretty good about not raiding the guest cabinet… but it’s Ramadan and they are stuffed and uninterested. We’ll see what happens after Ramadan. I might have to lock things up.

It’s quiet out here – or noisy in a different kind of way. In the area there are quite a few houses being built so in the daytime you hear building noises. And there are tractors and other farm noises which are expected. Everyone out here seems to have at least two dogs (we have four) so the sound of dogs barking can be heard most of the time. At night there are owls - not the hoo hoo hoo kind, the screech owl kind. And of course insects. Maybe the best sounds come from the mosques - you can hear the call to prayers in every direction. We didn’t hear the mosque very clearly when we lived in town because the sounds of the cars and traffic would drown it out. I’m enjoying this kind of quiet. I sleep better here (or maybe that’s because my bedroom is on the other side of the house from the kids).

Internet is a problem. Forget adsl because there are no landlines. We can get a wireless (reefee) telephone and use dialup… uuugh. The guy at the LTT shop nearest our apartment in town offered to let me try out a wimax modem – the biggest one they sell. It works intermittently – most of the time there is no signal or a very weak one. I bought it anyway. The other alternative is to get the new Libyana dongle but since our Libyana sim cards barely work here the internet would most likely be the same – and Libyana’s way overpriced anyway. So now I have wimax when it feels like kicking in and working. Hopefully their service will improve. After all, I’m only about 5 minutes from the university and 15 or 20 from the centre of the city. I can even see two of the towers in the distance from my front yard….sigh…

Soon we’ll have to figure out how to get the kids back and forth to school. No one can walk from here, even if we transferred them to the nearest schools. We’ll have to sort out taking them into town… and the main road out here into town leaves a lot to be desired.

Despite all this we like it out here. There are plenty of advantages, most notably is having enough space and room for the kids to play both inside and outside of the house and fresh air too.

On another note: We haven’t even begun Eid shopping and it’s almost the end of Ramadan. I suppose that will keep me running around for the next week. The weather is better and that will make it easier.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The view next to my desk

The weather is cooler today! I can finally breathe.

Here's Ibrahim sitting on the windowsill next to my desk. Nora and I went out a few days ago and got plants to put next to the window. I still want to add more. Maybe something that hangs, or something with more color, or something with flowers. The kids were talking about how the windowsill is a perfect spot for putting our Halloween pumpkins - I think they are right! I'm being nagged about having a Halloween party this year.... we'll see...

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Getting there

The month of Ramadan is more than half way over. It's been hot the entire month, well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit every day and today we had 75% humidity too. Thirst, not hunger, seems to be the thing that's bothering most people this year.

I try to stay inside as much as possible during the day with the ac set to the lowest possible temperature. This makes visiting my mother in law difficult because although she has air-conditioning she uses it sparingly. She has the idea that you can get loza tain (tonsillitis) or a cold in your kidneys if you use the ac. I'm not looking forward to spending Eid this year at my in-law's in the heat.

We're still in the process of moving. I'm glad we're doing it a little at a time because the house isn't a mess. We just move enough every day or so to easily sort though and keep organized. We're also still shopping for furniture. Today I bought some houseplants to put in the area near my desk. The kids are calling it a forest now. I still need some plants for the kitchen window. I'm not going to attempt the garden until the weather cools off (and the house is painted). It's getting there… slowly but surely.

There will be shopping for Eid and school clothes and supplies in the next few weeks. Life would be so nice if there were a Target or Walmart here – one stop shopping…. Sigh.. the heat is getting to me.

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