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.

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