Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Eid Freedom

While in other places in the world Muslims are celebrating the first day of Eid, Libya will begin Eid tomorrow. Each country marks the end of Ramadan by sighting the new moon and of course that varies from place to place according to weather conditions, etc. 

We had a very simple Ramadan this year. There were so many shortages because of the ongoing war. We had made sure to stockile supplies of basic foodstuffs long before Ramadan began but we still ran short of eggs, bread and fresh vegetables (especially parsley) toward the end of the month. It wasn't because they were unavailable, but because some things just became so expensive we refused to pay the rediculously elevated prices for them - especially parsley which is used in many Ramadan dishes which got up to four dinars for a tiny wilted bunch. We made do without. And because we had run out of gasoline we were unable to get fresh bread. The result was that we kept our meals simple and baked bread at home. Desserts were usually fresh fruit that was available on our farm or baked homemade cakes, cobblers and puddings. Imagine a Ramadan in Libya without zlabiyah! 

The social aspect of Ramadan had changed for us as well. Without gasoline it was impossible to visit anyone. My mother-in-law and  two of my sister-in-laws came over once and that was only because they had come to the farm when it became too dangerous to stay in their house in town. We stayed at home, watching tv, reading, sitting in the garden and listening to the war.

One of the traditions in Ramadan is shopping for new clothes to wear for Eid. We didn't do that at all this year. Earlier in the war I had bought some new clothes for Ibrahim and I had set aside two outfits so he will wear those. The rest of us will just wear something clean and nice. 

Kids also get toys for the feast and Ibrahim has been asking for a remote control car (he asks for this every year). Well, that will have to wait since we haven't been able to get to town to look for one yet. Also earlier in the war I had bought a few packages of hard candies and hidden them away - so I've got sweets to pass out for the kids. 

Eid will be simple this year, but we are thankful because it will be the most wonderful Eid Libya has seen in 42 years. Libya is free! 

Wishing everyone a very happy, peaceful and safe Eid.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Feeding an army

Saturday, August 27th, 2011 | 27th Ramadan

A few days ago while my husband and my son Yusef were out and about they came across a group of opposition fighters from Misrata. It turned out that one of them was a friend of one of my husband’s cousins. Libya after all is a small world and if you sit down to talk to someone for any length of time you will usually find some kind of connection. They chatted for a bit and then everyone went their separate ways.

Quite by chance they met up again the following day. Yusef ended up spending the day with the group. To say that he was thrilled is an understatement. He’s joined them and is off on an adventure.  Actually he is unofficially part of their group; he hasn’t registered to be a fighter because he is underage. He’s unarmed and tags along as kind of a gopher, no matter, it’s certainly just as dangerous and he is delighted and honored to be a part of the liberation of Libya.

What are my feelings about this? Hmmm…. It’s easy to say boys will be boys. On the one hand I am proud of my son. He is eager to free Libya in any way he can. On the other hand I am terrified that he could be injured – or worse. When he’s out I try to keep in contact with him but the phone coverage is miserable and I can’t always get through to him. I also am doing my best to convince myself that most of the fighting is over in Tripoli thus making Yusef’s new role a safer one. And Yusef comes home to sleep.

Last night, after spending the entire evening trying in vain to get a phone call through to Yusef, the phone rang. It was nearly three o’clock in the morning and it was Yusef. ‘Mom! I’m almost home. I’m bringing the guys! Cook us something!’ he said excitedly. ‘How many are coming with you?’ I asked. ‘Just six’ he replied as the phone disconnected.

I went in the bedroom to wake my husband up to tell him the news, then headed for the kitchen to cook up a large pot of ‘Macrona Umbakbaka’ a spicy Libyan pasta dish flavoured with tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, fresh basil and big chunks of beef jerky. My husband went out to the grape vines and picked enough grapes to fill a huge bowl, and we made sure there was plenty of ice cold water and juice to drink.

Our dogs began to bark, announcing the arrival of our special guests who pulled their heavily armored vehicle into the farm and drove it all the way into the far corner. They refused to come anywhere near the house, preferring to stay outside in the dark field under the starlit sky. ‘We’ve been outside for five months’ they said. ‘We are used to it this way.’

They ate and rested a bit. Soon it was dawn and time for them to move off, and for Yusef to head to bed for some much needed sleep. It was certainly an honor to feed the freedom fighters. May God watch over them and keep them safe.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It's not over yet

Although we continue to celebrate, there are still pockets of fighting around Tripoli and the King of Kings and his progeny are still at large. Our electricity keeps going off and the internet connection is sporadic (but we are so thankful for what we have).

I've been staying at home (where I am safe), waiting for this to finally come to an end. I'll post when I can.

Keep Libya in your prayers. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

I'm safe and well in Libya. It's been a long hard six months but I made it. The internet has been turned on and I'm slowly sifting through over 2000 emails. Thanks to all who have commented, emailed, worried and prayed for me. I'll update as soon as I can. Just so busy celebrating!

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