Friday, December 31, 2010

Another year has passed

It's that time of the year again, time to sit down and look back at the year. It's an opportunity to look back, count blessings, think about changes and consider what the new year will bring. Here's an overview of 2010.

The weather was changeable, sometimes rainy, sometimes cold but I had a chance to start planting seeds for the garden. The kids had exams and Yusef had his birthday for the first time in our new house. I went on a shopping trip with my mother-in-law. One special evening, Jenna and I watched in awe as a fireball arched across the sky in front of us - a part of the Coma Berenicid meteor showers.

There weren't many posts in February. I lost a very special friend and mentor to brain cancer. I spent a lot of time contemplating life and just going through the motions. It was like walking through a haze. On top of that I had a car that was misbehaving and a very slow internet connection and was plagued by bad dreams... sigh.

Busy weeks and pleasant weekends, one that included a trip to Tarhouna. 

I went through an 'I hate Libya' phase during the beginning of April. This was sparked by nearly getting my pocket picked, the dog being poisoned, a pervert hanging about near the elementary school and escalating food prices. Some time spent in the garden helped get me through all that. Later I wrote about how Libyan traditions were changing, specifically relating to clothing. I found A&W root beer - which unfortunately I can no longer find...sigh.. but it was good medicine for my soul for a bit.

Exams, changeable weather and intermittent electricity. I commented about the problem with Libyan women (Libyan men are the problem!). 

Long summer days. The kids were bored and we spent time in the garden and on the farm looking at flora and fauna.

This month marked the end of the World Cup and getting ready for Ramadan. My mom spent time in the hospital which left me glued to the internet to keep up with my family on the other side of the world.

Ramadan. The kids took over the cooking this year while I supervised. I reported on the cooks of the Libyan blogoshere. We got a new dog. Long days of fasting in scorching temperatures, and fun nights with friends and family.

Ramadan ended and we celebrated a quiet Eid Al-fitr. The new school year began and we got back into the swing of things. More time was spent in my ever changing garden. The month ended with a guest post about driving in Libya by

Rita, a stray dog, decided to make our house hers. We spent time in the garden where Jenna found a lovely toad - was it Prince Charming in disguise? Most of the month was spent driving kids back and forth and too much time was spent at work (and not enough time was spent having adventures).

I had surgery in this month and counted blessings when all turned out well. We celebrated a quiet Eid Al-adha. Lots of excitement, plenty of rumours, and bumper to bumper traffic during the African Union Summit that was hosted in Tripoli. 

The last month of the year is fairly quiet. I finally got some new wheels - just in time, as the old car had decided it was time to give up. The weather finally started to look like winter as the clouds dumped rain and the streets flooded. It was a good chance to see how my new car handled in wet conditions and concealed potholes. I had a much needed break in the mornings giving me a chance to get caught up. 

Overall, I think I hated 2010! Spending time in my garden helped me ease some stress and get me through some rough spots. Looking back I noticed that I didn't have very many adventures, I spent way too much time working, and not enough time enjoying family, friends and home. Nothing was very good about the year -  I'm glad 2010 is over! I'm looking forward to 2011. 

Best wishes to all for a very Happy New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Problem.... solved!

Just when I was going to start griping about my shlafty neighbours a solution arrived, literally on my doorstep. 

You see, for the past couple of months I've been really ticked off with the people who live at the farm next to mine. The problem is their trash. They've dug a big hole next to the dirt road that leads to my front gate and have been dumping their garbage in the hole. Such a lovely sight to see as I drive up to my house! Not to mention the odor, flies, stray dogs and rodents that it attracts. Periodically they light their dump on fire, usually right after I've hung out the laundry to dry. Why can't they put their rubbish in plastic bags and drop it off in one of the many dumpsters that are placed around town? Yes, it's a bit of a hassle but it keeps the neighbourhood free of trash, smells and vermin. If we can do it they should be able to do it too. 

The neighbour's trash dump

I've been on a nagging campaign, begging my husband to go over and have a word with them. But he has steadfastly refused on the grounds that he doesn't want to make any trouble. He's complained to them in the past about other things and it's never gone over very well with them. They're simple country people... not very accepting of new fangled ideas like plastic trash bags or hygiene. 

This morning while I was contemplating what to make for lunch, our dogs started barking and growling. I wasn't expecting anyone so I went out to see what was going on. I could hear men's voices on the other side of the wall. Then I heard a car drive up, and the dogs immediately quieted. I could hear my husband talking to the men so I went back inside. Maybe my husband had brought some workers to do something. 

It turned out that the company, Rentokil, was making their rounds in our area and stopped when they had come across the sight of the garbage. My husband came home and found them setting up a rat trap next to our wall and across from the rubbish. They said they had noted the place on their GPS and would be sending someone to officially tell the neighbours to remove their garbage. So the problem will be solved! Yeah! 

The rat trap

... now if we could only get rid of the neighbours....

Don't leave home without it!

Nothing to do but relax today - it's been raining off and on all morning. The last few days Sara and I have been hunting for furniture. Most of the stuff in the shops is poor quality - worse than last year when we were looking. Some of the shops have the very same furniture as last year. We think we've found something, but we'll have to go back and look at it again before we make the final decision.

I finished the book 'A Reliable Wife' by Robert Goolrick - Washington Post review: Here - I read online that it's going to be made into a movie. I hope they do it justice - it's gonna be HOT - and I wonder who will play the role of Antonio? Now I'm on to a much tamer story: 'Plain Truth' by Jodi Picoult. If anyone plans on living in Libya for any length of time and they like to read, don't come here without an e-reader! 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Break!

At last I'm having a bit of a break. No work in the mornings until next year, although the evenings will continue on as usual and I still have to wake up at 6:00 am to take the kids to school. But it gives me a few hours everyday to get things done that I've been putting off.

So here I sit filling up my calendar with things to do for the next two weeks:

  • The top on the list is to get a haircut - then I'll be ready for anything! 
  • Also on my list is shopping for furniture - yes, I know I've lived in this house for over a year - but there are still bits and pieces to get to finish things off. 
  • I'm feeling the need for a bit of culture, so I'll make the rounds of museums and galleries around town.
  • Some gardening, 
  • and sorting out my desk.
  • visit some friends... is it possible to turn myself into a lady who lunches?
  •  catch up on reading - in the middle of 'A Reliable Wife' at the moment (not bad)
  • I might decide to play the role of good daughter-in-law and pay a visit to my mother-in-law (haven't seen her since Eid)
  • finish putting together a workshop that I had a brainwave about a couple of months ago (maybe I should move this one up nearer to the top of the list!)
  • But most of all I want to relax and rest and spend time with my family. 
I added support for mobiles for my blog - so if you read this on your mobile please let me know if it's working correctly. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

A change in the weather

The weather is finally getting cooler. Whenever this time of the year comes around I get the overwhelming feeling that I just want to sleep. It's as though my body has to slow down and adjust to the change. So today I took the afternoon and evening off and climbed into bed and slept for a few hours. It's only the beginning of the week and I'm looking forward to the weekend... so I can sleep. After I get used to the change in the weather I'll be ready to have some adventures. ... still waiting for licence plates for the new car... maybe tomorrow...

Too tired to bother cooking lunch, I took the picture above while I waited for Yusef to get some shawarma for us. A typical street scene  - Notice the shop in the middle that's selling exterior house paint, and the house behind it that is unpainted, African street cleaners who are taking care of the garbage and sweeping up the sand that piles up on the edges of the roads, cars across the street and in the mirror. 

The sky was overcast today... and I felt overcast too. It was so nice to have a lazy afternoon and evening at home.

Friday, December 10, 2010


I came home from work yesterday to find a new car in the driveway... well, not brand new, but new for me. Yeah! We need to get insurance and the registration sorted out and then it will be ready to take me on new adventures. 

In the evening I went out with a friend in the old car. We were driving along, chatting away, just as happy as could be, and all of a sudden steam started shooting out of the front of the car and the temperature gauge shot up to the hottest temperature. I managed to pull the car over to the side of the road. I think it must have known that it's replacement had arrived. My friend and I decided to just abandon it. My husband went over later and picked it up. 

That old car has taken me on lots of adventures and I think that I've spent a good part of my life in it taxiing everyone around..... kind of sad in a way to be putting the poor old thing to rest.... sniff, sniff... 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bumper to bumper traffic

The traffic situation during the summit that's being held here has really been a pain. They've closed off roads in all kinds of places and you have to plan your trip carefully to avoid getting stuck someplace. Was this the last day of this craziness? I hope so, because I've got a life to get on with.

More driving headaches are a bunch of new potholes in the main road that goes through Ain Zarah. Maybe I shouldn't call them potholes - they are more like trenches. And there are huge holes in the middle of the 'Khamsa Shwara' intersection. Someone suggested that it's turned into a roundabout. I don't know why they don't just fill in the holes. I guess they are waiting for a few people to get killed first. 

In the Google Earth picture below you can see the brick place I drive past every day - see how the earth is red from the clay the bricks are made from?  The huge trucks that load and unload the bricks are eroding away the sides of the already narrow Ain Zarah road there so that cars have to veer towards the middle of the road to avoid falling off the paved area - usually they veer into oncoming traffic. In the picture you can see a dark area alongside the road on the opposite side where the road is crumbling away. I know it doesn't look like much at first glance, but compare it's size to the cars on the road. The trucks are not just loaded with bricks - they are OVERloaded and dangerous. Once I witnessed a truck flip over when it tried to turn in. There were bricks everywhere and by some miracle no one got killed or hurt. One day if I have a few minutes extra  I'm going to stop in at the brick place and have a word with them about it... they are the ones causing the problem in that part of the road, the least they can do is fill in the holes their trucks are creating - and make the road a little bit safer. Of course they will probably just look at me like I'm some kind of lunatic. Maybe I am... sigh..  

This picture was taken about three and a half months ago. It must be very early in the morning because there is hardly any traffic in the picture. The road looks much worse now.

I was exhausted by the time I got home today. I'm looking forward to the weekend. I think I'm going to crawl into my bed and stay there.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Rumor Mill

There's is big excitement in Libya these days. The country is playing host to the 3rd AU/EU Summit that will take place on the 29th and 30th of November. There are clean-up crews in all the streets and roads making sure everything is spic and span. The shop doors on the main roads have all been painted with a fresh coat of green paint. Flag poles are being put up in strategic locations and there is a strong presence of security as it's been reported that 80 heads of state will be in attendance.

I looked around on the net to see what I could find out about the summit and I really couldn't find much. I found this link: African Union Summit that says the theme is Investment, economic growth and job creation. The downloadable programme lists an opening statement and lunches, banquets and a group photo. Apparently nothing else has been planned because for each plenary session the topics all say 'to be defined'. It doesn't sound like much will be happening, but I bet you can pretty much count on at least one very, very, very, very, very,very long speech.

In the mean time, everyone is talking about the summit, specifically about the security measures surrounding the big event. Here are some of the things I've heard - and always the people saying them claim they have an 'official source' of someone who is 'in the know'. Some of them are pretty ridiculous!

  • A public holiday will be called - no school, no work.
  • Hospitals will be closed.
  • All shops will be closed
  • Barack Obama will be in attendance
  • The roads will be closed in the centre of Tripoli
  • The roads in Benashur will be closed
  • The roads into and out of Tripoli will be closed
  • the entire event will be moved to Sirte at the last minute
  • The internet will be shut off
  • all the country's money will be given to poor African countries
  • There will be a curfew - anyone caught outside on the streets will be shot on sight
  • The baker's will all be closed and there will be no bread in Libya
  • etc. etc. etc.

So, tell me.... what has your 'official source' told you? Click on comments... 

I'm off to the baker's.... going to stock up........ Thank God I've got plenty of gadeed!

Monday, November 22, 2010


...... benign.... elhamdulillah! Some of my students told me 'Elf Mabrouk!' which roughly translated means 'one thousand congratulations'... all I could think was that one thousand is just way too small a number... I have soooooo much to be thankful for. I am just blown away... relief... wow! ... I really don't even know what to say... speechless...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cleaning up

Tomorrow's the end of the Eid break. The kids are bored and spend most of their waking hours fighting with each other. There have been lots of dishes to wash this past week. Really big pots and pans, the kind you have to wash in the garden with the hose because they don't fit in the sink. This has been the girl's job this year. We still have to finish off the gadeed tonight so there will be more dishes for them to wash.

By the way, Nora's osban (Libyan sausage) turned out even better than her aunt's sausage in the taste contest they had at my mother in law's house! I put this up to the fact that Nora put her heart and soul into making it (and she didn't have anyone to distract her with gossip while she did it). This is a big relief for me because now it means she can be our family's official osban maker. Now, when my husband decides he needs a huge dose of cholesterol we can put Nora to work making the offal (awful) stuff.

How am I doing? Well, once, and only once this week, I really yelled at the kids. That was because I found Ibrahim standing on top of the kitchen counter, swinging a broom at the light fixtures that hang from the ceiling and also trying to hit Sara, who was provoking the whole event. So of course I screamed and shouted. I should have left them destroy the house.  I regret yelling now.... I think it set me back a week. One thing that has helped - I have found joy in Sue Bee clover honey... 100%  American.... none of this pretend honey Libyans cheat each other with for me. A few tablespoons a day makes my throat feel so much better. 

I will be happy when everyone is back to school and work.  

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thanks, recovery and Eid preparations

Special thanks to the staff of Central Hospital, Shara Zawia -Tripoli for taking such great care of me. My surgery went as planned and I am on the mend. Actually, I was in the hospital at 8am and out by 3pm - so it was a short stay. Everything ran according to plan, like a well-oiled machine. The staff were friendly and efficient, the hospital was clean and I was given VIP treatment. Now it's time for me to heal and wait for the pathology report.

I rested at home the remainder of the day, sleeping off the anesthesia. Sara made me wonderful lentil soup and Yusef went to the shop and got me a huge assortment of fresh fruit; navel oranges, three kinds of apples, bananas and melons imported from Italy. It still hurts to swallow anything but I am feeling better. Soon enough I'll be able to yell at the kids even louder than before.

This morning Sara and I went out to do some shopping and run some errands. After a while I got tired and just stayed in the car and let Sara get out to get what we needed. Traffic was crazy with last minute Eid shoppers and pick-up trucks piled full of sheep. We made it home and I went straight to bed for a nap. When I got up there was hot chicken soup, compliments of Sara and Yusef. 

Everything is ready for tomorrow's Eid celebration. The sheep is awaiting his fate - locked up in the garage. All the equipment has been laid out for an early morning start. Nora has prepared all the ingredients for osban (Libyan sausage) - my house smells like chopped onions and fresh parsley. Sara made two HUGE pizzas that we can heat up and snack on tomorrow. More soup for me. 

I wish you all a blessed Eid. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Eid - a break from work??

I've been working almost non-stop since September and now I am officially on Eid break. Eid Aladha, or Eid Alkabir (the big Eid) as many Libyans call it is an Islamic holiday. My break will last a week and then it's back to work again. Am I going to rest and take it easy this week?... of course not! Eid this year falls on November 16th. At least that's what was in the Libyan newspapers here. In the past there's been disputes over the days - Libya celebrating before anyplace else in the world. We'll see what happens this year.

Eid is lots of hard work - it involves slaughtering a sheep and dealing with cutting up all the meat. I dry quite a lot of the meat, making what's called gadeed, a kind of jerky - I've posted the procedure and pictures in the past here: Gadeed 

Actually I'm looking forward to Eid this year. The kids are getting older and help out quite a bit. Nora says she's going to make osban (a kind of sausage) this year, and Yusef will be a huge help to his father for the gory slaughter. There will be plenty of in-laws to visit too. 

In order to prepare for all of this I'll have to go shopping. I have most of what I need, I'm just getting mostly cleaning supplies, a case of cooking oil and salt and Pepsi. Libyans can't seem to eat grilled meat with out Pepsi for some reason. Of course while I'm out shopping I will buy a whole bunch of other things that I probably don't need. But that's all part of the deal.

And if all that is not enough for one week, I've got some medical stuff to deal with - minor out patient surgery. Nothing exciting, so don't worry. I'll be in and out in a few hours. It's going to be one heck of a busy week. I'll try to post something if I get a chance. In the meantime, have a peaceful and safe Eid.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Furniture shopping

Since we moved in (over a year ago) I've been procrastinating about furnishing the guest room that is outside next to the garage. I decided that this was going to be the weekend it got done. Yusef and I went out this morning and we picked out and bought a desk, bookcase and sofabed set. The furniture has been delivered and the bookcase and desk are being installed as I type. I even got a wireless extender so there will be internet out there. Tomorrow the air conditioner will be installed and the kitchenette soon afterwards. I need to have some curtains made and installed. Progress is being made!

Hopefully someone will come for a visit now. In the meantime it's going to be used as an office and a quiet place to study.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lovely Rita

We've got a new dog. She came to us. It's weird... I'll try to explain... 

The other day as I was heading off to work, I had to drive down our road to turn the car around in order to head in the right direction down the dirt road that leads from our house. I noticed a stray dog in the distance. I stopped the car and watched as it slowly approached. It was limping. It would take a few steps, then stop to rest. Sometimes it would sit down for a bit and then it would get back up and proceed, ever so slowly, down the dusty road. It walked with a purpose. I just sat in the car and watched, mesmerized. 

I said out loud 'That dog is coming to us. It's coming to our house.' And sure enough, as it reached our gate it stopped and laid down. At the same moment Yusef opened the gate and walked over to the dog and bent over to look at it. He stood up and called out 'Take the side road.' - There are two roads leading to our house that run parallel to each other. I slowly drove down the side away from Yusef and the dog. I looked in the rear view mirror and by the time I reached the end of the road Yusef had brought the dog into the safety of our garden and closed the gate. I let out a sigh. We have a new dog. 

Later Yusef called to ask me to bring home anti-biotic cream and eye ointment. The poor dog's paw was injured as well as one of it's eyes. She's a lovely little dog, not a puppy but still quite young, with smooth soft black fur and a cheerful disposition. She has taken up residence, sitting directly in front of the door to the house where she guards us as though she has been our dog all her life. We took her to the vet and he put her on anti-biotics and gave her a tetanus shot. Her eye is already clearing up but it will take a while for her paw to heal. Ibrahim named her Rita. I'm not sure where he found this name - but it suits her. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Look what Jenna found

Jenna found a cute little toad in the garden this evening. He's so sweet and very difficult to photograph!

Nora tried to kiss it to see if it would turn into a prince... but it jumped out of her hand and tried to escape!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Riding through the week

I've had my nose to the grindstone all week. Out the door early in the morning as the sun is rising, home for a quick bite to eat and to change my clothes mid afternoon, out the door again, and then finally coming home at night. 

All I've seen of the outdoors has been while driving the car. There really wasn't much to see. The weather was bad this week - sandstorms turned everything a dirty brown colour and made the air feel so thick you could bite off a piece and chew it. It made my eyes feel itchy, my throat feel scratchy and my chest feel wheezy. The weather seemed to be affecting everyone this week. I saw lots of fender benders on my way about town. A few of them resulted in drivers jumping out of their vehicles to have violent fistfights in the middle of the road. Of course traffic always comes to a halt while the hotheads sort out their situations. Entertainment!

One morning, at the beginning of the week, on my way through Fashloum, a neighbourhood of Tripoli, I drove past a burnt out car and lots of police men, all of them wielding billy clubs. Nothing was going on, whatever had happened was over with. Later I heard from various people that a drunken cop had killed someone... bad boys... bad boys... whatcha gonna do? LOL!  Ugggh... Fashloum is just one step above a trailer park.. or maybe it's a step below. At the end of the week the burnt out car was still there. I expect it will be there for a long time because there are burnt out cars and wrecks lining the roads and countryside all over. No one seems to be bothered by them. I've decided to consider them art... sculpture!

The best thing that happened this week was my hairdresser calling to say she'd returned. She has been gone for three months.... three very, very long months! I went to visit her today and made an appointment to have 'the works'. By this time next week I will look human again! 

I'm very ready for the weekend! 

Friday, October 08, 2010

My favourite month - October

Nothing exciting has been happening in my life lately (thank God). I've been enjoying my weeks and savouring my weekends. 

The kids are back to school, with the exception of Yusef. I'm looking for a tutor for him... Arabic is such a complicated language...sigh... imagine having to repeat the year because you failed one subject (Arabic) by two marks... one subject by two marks...sigh.. depressing. He's being allowed to retake just Arabic. I need to find someone who can pound Arabic into his hard head. I am soooo happy that it wasn't English that he failed - I can blame the Arabic on his father!

The weather is changing. Last week there were a couple of hot, muggy, humid days, but for the most part it's been lovely. I've been doing things in the garden and getting some fall cleaning done inside the house. I was out in the garden this morning... it's that time of year again - tortoise mating season - a very noisy business...clunk, clunk, clunk! The tortoises in our garden have been very busy! 

The garden will look so much nicer when the house finally gets painted - by the way, we added a cockatiel to our menagerie recently. I read on the internet that they can be taught to speak so I shout out 'Paint the house!' every time I walk by it's cage in the hope that it will learn the phrase. I'm so tired of saying it to hubby. He mentioned this morning that he was thinking of painting the iron work either yellow or orange. I hope he was joking because if he does that I will definitely have a heart attack and then I won't have the strength to strangle him.

October.... my birthday is this month, but better than that is Halloween. I'm on the lookout for ORANGE pumpkins.... so far I can only find big dark green ones. 

Friday, October 01, 2010

Where would you go?

If you won a ticket to anyplace in Europe where would you go?  Rome? Paris? Vienna? Someplace in Scandinavia? A popular tourist spot? Someplace romantic or someplace quiet? Would you go to a place rich in history and culture, or a place well known for parties and excitement? Maybe you would use the tickets to visit friends and family. Would you extend your finger and spin a globe, travelling to the place where the tip of your finger landed when the globe stopped spinning?

I saw this today while looking on the site to see what was happening in Tripoli.  There's a chance to win a ticket to anyplace in Europe from Tripoli.  And it's not just one chance, it's four! And there's also a chance to win a trip to New York. Oh Yeah! 

I'm off to the shops to buy a globe!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Guest Post - Driving in Libya: The Thrill of the Chase

The following is a guest post by: Expat

Driving in Libya: The Thrill of the Chase

Driving in Libya is just short of a spiritual experience. Each innocent road trip is equivalent to something that resembles divine judgement – passengers bowing their heads before the scales of life and death.

Libya racks up more than 2,300 road deaths a year, a stunning statistic that is second highest in the world, and five times the EU average.

Expats moving to Libya and visitors coming to cleanse their souls in the desert should realize that driving is the country’s most dangerous contact sport; basic regard for safety is disregarded; law enforcement is lackadaisical; and the activity of getting from point A to point B is a time to do everything EXCEPT concentrate on the road.

It’s commonplace to look to the car beside you and see no driver, his head buried in the seat below looking for the cigarette he’s dropped. Or perhaps, you’ll pass a small-pick up cruising at break-neck speed around hairpin curves with a camel or pint-size pony waving to and fro on the bed in the back. There are also the veiled women that veer left and right without notice, their head scarves and burkas restricting peripheral vision, but not limiting their movement across the highway with little notice.

In one regard, these observations can be charming indicators of Libyan culture, on the other hand, they can be glaring examples of just how unsafe driving in Libya can actually be.

Though the roads in urban areas are paved and up to standard, as soon as drivers start to venture outside major centres the quality of the driving surfaces greatly deteriorate. The major highway along the seacoast merges into a single lane highway once outside a metropolis and drivers take the opportunity to put the pedal to the metal and reach top speeds with the beauty of the scenery turning into a blur of colour outside.

Wind-blown sand can often reduce visibility, and at night, drivers in Libya are also competing for road space with the odd camel, the domestic animal who’s been inspired by a bit of wanderlust, and the massive pothole.

The lack of law enforcement also acts as a directive for drivers to take risks and openly disregard the vague traffic regulations that do exist.

If driving in Libya there are certainly some Do’s and Don’ts that expats and visitors should be aware of:


  • Make sure you have all the necessary documents to drive in Libya (a license and yellow car booklet)
  • Check the state of your vehicle often, especially prior to longer trips
  • Enroll in a ‘Defensive Driving’ course locally
  • Research your route beforehand, create as much of a calm driving experience as possible
  • Be alert, anything can happen
  • Double check intersections even after the lights turn green


  • Start driving without the necessary papers and insurance
  • Leave home without a spare tire or a vehicle in questionable condition, road side assistance is easily accessed and is often entirely in Arabic
  • Begin a long journey without letting a third party know
  • Lose your cool and get frustrated
  • Be in a hurry
  • Try and predict another driver’s actions

Monday, September 20, 2010


Everything started yesterday.... schools - both public and private, and universities. Needless to say the traffic in and around Tripoli was crazy. A trip to pick up the kids that normally would take me about 20 minutes took me over 2 hours yesterday. 

By the time I got home my leg was aching from the workout it got... break pedal ... gas pedal... break pedal... gas.... break.... gas.. gas.. break.. and so on, for most of the drive home.

Today it took me less time, but it was still over an hour. It will get better when all the students going to schools, institutes and universities sort out their bus situation. In the mean time we are all exhausted and I think we've all been poisoned from the exhausts we breathed all the way home.

Ibrahim got home and tossed his backpack aside, crashed out on the sofa. Within seconds he was asleep.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Training for Libyan nurses and healthcare workers

Libya suffered through years and years of sanctions that prevented training such as this from happening in the past. Imagine what Libyan health care would be like now if there had never been sanctions. It will take a long time to catch up, but this looks like a promising beginning. I wish I had known about it, I would have loved to attend.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Some pictures

My husband finally got a mobile phone that has a camera. He's been having a fun learning how to use it - most of the pictures he took had his finger taking up half the frame. These are some of the good/interesting pictures I found on the camera.

Marcos Aurelius's Arch  - love the sky on this.

In the Medina.

The clock tower in the Medina... beautiful sky!

This is an advert about an eco-friendly program - renting bicycles. 
Do you think Libyans would rent bikes to ride around Tripoli? 

Men at a wedding.

Dangerous looking electrical wires in the Green Square next to the fountain... hundreds of people walk here every day? Pretty sad... sigh...

More wires.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Eid and other events

Eid is over and went smoothly. 

I spent the first day at my in-laws. I sat until my bottom became numb and we ate the usual fasulia (navy beans in a spicy tomato sauce with meat) eaten with fateera (a flat oily bread), which I later regretted eating... ehem..ehem... 

All the little kids looked so cute in their Eid clothes. My sister-in-laws have this thing about changing their kids clothes so that they can show off that they bought them three outfits. It seemed like every time I looked at the kids they were wearing something else and a few times I shook their hands a second time by mistake because I thought it was a child I hadn't seen yet. They would laugh and say 'Abla Khadija, you've already greeted me!'. There were lots of balloons and cheap plastic toys, noise and excitement and running and jumping (and some fighting too). It reminded me of what my kids were like when they were small and I counted my blessings that I was over that.

Day two of Eid - I stayed home for most of the day, only going to my in-laws in the late afternoon. It was just a repeat of the day before, just different sisters-in-law and different kids. 

The last day of Eid marked the beginning of my husband's cousin's wedding. One event progressing into the next.   There are two days left of the wedding to get through. I've had a lot of family in my life this week!

Today is also the first day of school. Jenna is the only one that went as she has plans to see her best friend. Nothing is accomplished on the first day of school - total chaos - the rest of my kids are waiting until tomorrow. By next week we'll all be back to the usual routine... I hope. 

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Coming to a close

A few months ago we put out bird seed in the garden to attract birds that are in the area. A few of the millet seeds spouted and grew and we liked the look of the plants so much that we decided to plant some more in a section of our garden. The plants grew strong and tall, some reaching nearly 3 metres high. Not only is it pleasing to the eye but it also helps keep the sand from blowing and landing on the doorstep (happy to have less sweeping to do!). Now  my garden is full of birds feasting on the millet. Sometimes there are over a hundred birds in my garden at one time! Such a joy to watch. We will definitely plant more next year.

Ramadan is coming to a close. We have one or possibly two more days of fasting left. Every year my normal routine has been to cross off each day on the calendar as soon as we finished breaking our fast for the day. But this year I didn't count the days - I enjoyed every one of them. I've had lots of time to rest, read, embrace the spiritual, visit with friends and family,  and I spent lots of time with my husband and children. Many, many blessings to count. 

There are a few things to tie up before the feast days following Ramadan. Hopefully we'll get the list of errands finished today. 

Ibrahim sitting next to me at my desk, playing games on my laptop. 

Saturday, September 04, 2010

It rained today... this calls for a celebration!

It rained off and on today. Not a steady downpour, just a light drizzle. But it was enough to settle the dust and cool the air a little. 

The girls and I, along with a niece that's been staying with us for the last few days, went out in the afternoon to pick up some of the girls' friends so they could spend the evening at our house and share the fast breaking meal (iftar) with us. Two more nieces arrived at the house later in the afternoon. They all went to work getting our iftar ready. I helped out by making the soup. 

The girls ate inside while hubby and I ate in peace in the garden. After we ate, the girls went in the kitchen to clean up. I am thankful to have a large kitchen! The table was pushed aside to make room for dancing..... because teen-aged Libyan girls have to dance while they do the dishes! They sang, they danced, and they made cupcakes too. 

The girls are having a great time. I expect the music and dancing will last long into the night.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

A change in the air

In all the years that I have been in Libya (21), the first of September has always been really hot and really muggy. But this year was different. It was nice all day, nice enough to eat our iftar outside in the garden. After we ate, we stayed outside until late in the night. As the temperature dropped, Jenna went in the house and came back wrapped in her blanket and I got out a light wool shawl to throw over my bare shoulders. We sat under the stars and the moon and enjoyed the weather.  It really felt as though autumn was in the air. The next morning we woke to hot weather once again.

Soon it will be Eid, I'm enjoying the last days of Ramadan. Soon we will be back to school and work.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


The in-laws finally made an appearance today. They had had to postpone their visit to me because of unexpected visitors. It all worked out fine. Everyone showed up at about 11 pm. Mother-in-law, six sisters-in-law, and most of their children (and they each have at least 5).

They decided to sit in the garden because I had the air conditioners running and they were all afraid they might get tonsillitis from the cold air. The garden worked out better because all the little kids could run around freely.

There was plenty to eat and drink and everyone had a merry time. The older girls went to work in the kitchen preparing all the trays and dishes and did all the serving, while the women sat in the garden under the moon and gossiped. I ran back and forth supervising the girls. After all the food had been served it was time to clean up. One by one, and two by two, my in-laws got up to leave - kisses all around. Off they went, taking their babies and children. I'm all set, until next year.

Monday, August 30, 2010

An interesting observation

Do I detect a bit of competition going on?

  • Son goes off to Italy and gets 1 supermodel. Link here.
  • Baba goes off to Italy and gets 500 models. Link here.
Is anyone supposed to top that?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Day Time is Night Time

I had a lovely visit with a good friend this evening. I took Sara and Jenna so they could visit with my friend's daughter. We talked and talked, and in no time at all it was 3 o'clock in the morning. On our way home I noticed almost every shop we passed was still open. The day has switched to night for Ramadan.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Will I survive this?

I've invited my in-laws over to spend an evening and share suhoor with us. The girls have been careening around the house making sure there aren't any dust bunnies in the corners or any cobwebs hanging from anything. They're even cleaning under all the cushions... because they know their aunts will look there. I've been told to spruce up my desk and office area.

Yesterday Ibrahim and I bought a huge box of coloured chalk and a couple hundred balloons so that the kids will have something to do. I'm going to whisper 'water balloon fights' in Jenna's ear - that will keep them busy for a while. The kids will have a blast and my sister-in-laws will never forgive LOVE me. Last night hubby and I went grocery shopping for the big in-law event. 

The first of the in-laws arrived, a niece, at 1:30. She walked into the house carrying a HUGE homemade cake and said she came early to help out. Bless her heart!

Well, I better get back to work. There's a lot of supervising that needs to be done.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Charity - A Pillar of Islam

Charity in Islam comes in more than one form; zakat, which is the compulsory annual contribution of 2.5 percent of an individual’s wealth and assets, and sadaqah, or voluntary almsgiving, which is intended for the needy. The Quran emphasizes feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, helping those who are in need, and the more one helps, the more God helps the person, and the more one gives, the more God gives the person.  One feels he is taking care of others and God is taking care of him.

There are many fund raising drives in Libya throughout the year, but especially during Ramadan. The main problem for me is that most of them are announced in Arabic - so I miss out on them. has an announcement about a charity group that is feeding the needy during Ramadan. If you would like to make a donation or offer assistance you can find the information here: Ramadan Charity Event.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Are you hungry yet?

There's always the focus on food during Ramadan. Not just food but on pleasing all the senses. Facebook is full of posts about food, including pictures of what budding chef's have made. Bloggers are cooking too. Here are three food related blogs written by Libyans: 

This is an interesting blog that doesn't just focus on recipes. There are all kinds of food related articles that pertain to Libyan cuisine, dietary issues, and food news. Very informative - I learn something from each post.

This is a new blog that I found recently. Beautiful images and tasty recipes for traditional Libyan food. The posts are conveniently arranged in different categories. 

Desert Rose is on a mission to post her family's daily Ramadan menu.  She's one heck of a cook...masha'allah! I check this blog everyday to see what's cooking. 

Monday, August 23, 2010


We've reached the half way mark. We're settled into the Ramadan routine; fast and pray, eat and sleep... and for most people, shop. I went to my in-laws the other day and invited them over for an evening and suhoor (the final meal before you begin fasting at dawn). My mother-in-law said she'd get back with me about when they can all come at once. All meaning ...all of my sister-in-laws and their offspring and my mother-in-law of course - a huge crowd. So far she hasn't called me. I'll have to call her tomorrow and see what's up.

Eid clothes are one thing that needs to be taken care of, hopefully this week. And school will begin as soon as Ramadan and Eid are over. I stopped at a tailor's to see how much it will cost to have school uniforms made... 50 dinars for a high school uniform and 45 for middle school. I'll have to take the kids tomorrow to be measured. Hopefully we'll get school supplies done this week too. ... and shoes... everyone needs new shoes.


I found this while I was poking around today. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Waiting out the heat of the day

We've had some pretty hot weather this Ramadan and I am so thankful to have an air conditioned house to stay in. My kids have been staying up all night and sleeping most of the day. I hate that schedule but I've found myself  getting up later and later every day. 

The whole country seems to be nocturnal. Down the road, under bright halogen lights, workmen are building a house all night long. Traffic in and around town at three o'clock in the morning is as if it were three o'clock in the afternoon. I know there are companies that have nearly normal working hours during Ramadan, but I can't imagine that much work is getting done.

We've acquired a new dog. Actually, Yusef rescued it from somewhere. He's a rather large, mixed breed that shows signs of having been abused. He has a scar on one leg, and it looks as though someone made an unsuccessful attempt at cropping the poor thing's ears. I don't know how old he is, but I would guess he's not very young. He's got a sad, defeated look in his eyes. He came with a card that says his vaccinations are up to date. At least someone did that for him... sigh... Animals have a very hard life in Libya. 

He seems content and quite gentle. He loves to play in water, and he's found his favourite spot in the garden next to the wall and under a water faucet, where the earth is cool. I only wish he'd quit digging.

Digging in, sitting out the hottest part of the day.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Get your act together...please

Yesterday I tried to check my wimax balance and found they had a new system on LTT's website for the user's login. I fiddled around with it and finally figured out how to check my balance. Today I went back to the site to check and found this on the login link:

Aaaaagh! What a headache! 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ramadan..... a time for visiting friends and family

Last night the girls and I (minus Nora) spent some time with my good friend OTE. We picked her up and drove around. Whenever we'd see a shop that had clothes displayed in the window that the girls thought looked good we'd stop and the girls would get out and investigate. While the girls shopped, OTE and I sat in the car and visited. Then the girls would get back in the car and we'd drive someplace else. At one point the girls came back with ice-cream for all. Later we stopped for more snacks.

This system of Eid clothes shopping-visiting is working out great. The girls are getting their shopping done and I get to hang out with a friend that I can talk to without any kids (or husbands) hanging around listening (and interrupting). It feels so nice to get a chance to have a one-to-one visit for a change.

This certainly beats the conventional Ramadan visiting of friends and family.  I'll have to see which one of my friends (or in-laws) wants to be my next guest.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Getting into the groove

Jenna and I went out today at about three in the afternoon. It's the first time I've been out since two days before Ramadan. It was hot and dusty and most of the shops were closed. We stopped at an office supply shop and bought art paper, and water colors. We're ready to go back into hibernation again. 

I've settled into the book 'This is where I leave you' by Jonathan Tropper. At first I thought 'Oh no! Not another moaning, I'm so depressed' book - because it's about a guy who just left his wife and then his father dies. But it turns out to be quite funny actually, it's more about a dysfunctional family. I'll probably finish it tomorrow and then decide what I want to read next. 

I'm really enjoying my break. Resting, reading, hobbies, and only cooking when I want to. The girls pulled off a lovely meal today of all Libyan food. For a treat, tonight I went into the kitchen and made tortillas and burritos for suhoor. Of course Sara insisted I clean up the mess... sigh...never mind, the burritos were delicious. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love... ummm... no thanks

How many pages do you read before you decide 'this book is just not for me'? Yesterday I started 'Eat, pray, love' and so far I've read about a quarter of the book. I hate it. It's the tale of a whiny woman who searches her soul as she travels for a year, spending 4 months each in Italy, India and Indonesia.  Whine, moan, cry and complain.... this woman is suffering serious depression. So far the majority of the book is a big boring monologue ... uugh... I hate it. 

The torture ends today. I'm deleting the book and starting something else. I haven't decided yet what it will be. Decisions, decisions....

On another note, Ramadan is going smoothly. The weather was super hot today - it reached 109 F. No one wanted to do anything. The girls got a late start in the kitchen but managed to get a nice meal put together, finishing up just as the call to prayer began. I think they were hoping I would step in and take over with the cooking today - but I'm remaining adamant that they do all the cooking this year. It's for their own good - tough love.... hehehe... I'm such a mean mommy. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What do you suggest?

It's Ramadan... I'm eating food when the sun goes down, but during the day I'm devouring books. Yesterday I read 'Water for Elephants'. It was interesting but not something that I'd read again. Today I started 'Eat, pray, love'. I'm on the first part... eat... maybe this one's not a good idea for Ramadan - the author eats her way through Italy in the beginning of the book. I'm going to suggest to the girls that we have pizza and pasta for our fast-breaking meal. 

It is a spiritual month after all, so of course I'm reading Islamic things too - Quran being number one on the list.

And while I was poking around on the internet, looking for books to download, I came across a whole bunch of books about the miserable life of women in Islamic countries. The other day I read 'I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced' about a Yemeni girl from an impoverished family who had been forced to marry at age 9 or 10 (there is no real record of her birth). If you look on Amazon at the page for the I am Nujood book and scroll down the page to where you find Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought you'll see a line-up of books about poor, abused women in Arab/Islamic countries. I was quite surprised to see so many of them. 

So, now I have a question for you ...... Have you read anything good lately? 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Day One - Done

It was a quiet first day of Ramadan in my house. I spent most of the day just relaxing and reading. I've filled my Sony Reader with books from the New York Times Bestseller list and spent time reading articles on the internet, and of course some Islamic texts as well. 

Late in the afternoon I roused the girls and got them into the kitchen. I've decided not to do the cooking this year but that doesn't mean I'm out of the kitchen completely because I still have to shout at the girls supervise. Today the girls made Libyan soup, garlic bread, salad, and rice pilaf. Later Sara made banana, kiwi and strawberry frappĂ© for dessert. It all turned out very well (everything was edible!). 

When I first came to Libya I had a neighbour who lived downstairs that had children the same age as my kids. She wanted to learn how to cook American food and so every afternoon we would put our kids down for a nap and we'd get busy in the kitchen. We went through an entire Pillsbury cookbook together, as we'd cook my neighbour would translate the recipe of the day into a big notebook she kept to record her recipes. It took us a little over a year, but we cooked and baked everything in the book that we could get ingredients for. She learned how to cook and I got to practice my Arabic. She still uses the recipes I taught her. I used that same cookbook to teach my youngest sister-in-law how to bake cakes and cookies. Maybe it's time to drag that cookbook out again. 

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Ramadan in Libya - wordle

A wordle taken from my page about Ramadan in Libya

Just days away....

If you are out in Tripoli for the next few days you'll notice even more traffic than usual. Everyone is out and about, going to the supermarket to pick up enough food to feed an army. Ramadan is just days away. What am I doing about it? Nothing. The tiny shop near my house has everything we need, there is a small greengrocer stand next to the shop. Hubby will manage to sort out meat for the month. 

I have no interest in fighting through the crowds of people at the supermarkets. I've decided to stock up on other things to get us through the month: The kids have requested some new DVDs, and I think some craft supplies might help keep Ibrahim out of trouble. Nora wants to do some macramĂ©. I need to hang some pictures that have been waiting, propped up in the corner, since we moved in last year. And of course, there are other things to focus on aside from food in Ramadan... spiritual things!

I had hoped that I would go to visit my family in America this Ramadan... but hubby is acting helpless and complained that no one would be here to cook for him if I left. What he doesn't know is that I have no plans to cook for him anyway this year. I've decided to leave it all up to the girls  - it's time they managed it all on their own. Last year I slaved away by myself in the kitchen while they slept or watched TV. All they had to do was clean up after I got through. It's their turn now to take over the role of chef. I am just not interested in it anymore. I've had 30 Ramadans in my life so far... thats a lot of time spent stirring the soup pot. It's time to hand my apron over to someone else.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

For the Birds

Way back in the 1990s, when satellite TV in Libya was a new and exciting thing and internet was just a dream, I used to watch 'Good Morning America' every day. It was great to see what was going on in the real world. I could find out what was happening in the news, learn about the latest trends, gadgets, movies and cooking tips. It was like getting a few minutes of 'home' on a daily basis.

This was fine most of the time, but there were times when it just made me homesick. One of those times was on a day when the presenter (I can't remember who) decided to move out of the studio to do an interview outside in a garden..... a very green garden (and Libya that day seemed so dry and brown). I remember watching the the interview and getting distracted by the greenness of the lush flower garden. And then I heard the birds singing.... north American birds... singing.... singing...singing..... All I could hear were the birds. Then tears started rolling down my face... soon I was sobbing. Sigh... there is nothing like the sound of birds from home.

I think the birds here in Libya are drab and boring in comparison to the birds I know from 'home'.  But there is someone here in Libya who just might make me change my mind. Meet BirdingRob :

An English teacher currently working in Benghazi, Rob travels across Libya in his free time birding. He's a late developer on the bird watching front, mainly induced by boredom in Baku. Now bitten by the bug, he has bird watched mostly in Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and Libya. And guess what? He has a blog - hooray! You can read about his adventures and learn about the bird life of Libya here: BirdingRob 

Thanks Rob - for teaching Libyans English, and teaching everyone everywhere about north African birds and wildlife. You are a treasure!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The yearly trip

The annual pre-Ramadan shopping trip with my mother-in-law went off without a hitch.  She was waiting downstairs for me to arrive, making sure to get into the car before any of my sisters-in-law saw us. Off we went. She had about 40 dinars rolled up and stuffed in the top of her sock. Of course I didn't let her spend any of it. We had a great time looking at everything and deciding what to buy. 

My mother-in-law made the comment that the quality of things was so much better than it was in the past. What she didn't know that I was making sure to take her to shops that sold better quality things. There is a lot of junk out there, and it's such a waste to spend money on it. I really think the shop owners should feel ashamed to sell some of the stuff. But I guess if there are people who will buy it, then they will sell it. 

We filled the car and I drove her home and we got some of the nieces and nephews to help us carry it all upstairs. They laid it all out on the floor in the sitting room and my mother-in-law was running back and forth like a proud hen, putting it all away - but not too quickly. She did make sure that everyone had a good look. Then she insisted I have lunch with her and spend the afternoon chatting. 

I'm blessed to have such a dear woman for a mother-in-law. She's all set for Ramadan. It was a wonderful day. 

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