Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 : Recapping My Year

It's that time of the year again... time to recap my year's events. I really feel as though I have lost a year! But looking back it was not a lost year, but a different one than I had ever expected. The war in Libya has changed everything. Now it's 'Before the war .... ' and 'Since the end of the war....' It has become one of life's markers - a point in time used to measure events. So we'll start with before the war........

I didn't post much in January. It was what I didn't post that was interesting! The revolution in Tunisia and Egypt had begun and I suspected that the revolution fever would spread eventually to Libya. But of course I couldn't write much about it which was very frustrating! I reminisced a bit about time I spent in Tunisia in the past, wishing that I could write more.  Instead I spent time stockpiling in case something happened in Libya (and I prayed something would happen!). I bought cases of toothpaste, shampoo, soap, and deodorant, as well as food. I figured we'd use it regardless what happened but I wanted to be prepared for just in case. On my blog I wrote only three posts -  which only vaguely touched on revolution and unrest - although it was very much on my mind.

By February my posts were mentioning the unrest in Egypt and as the month progressed my posts became a bit bolder as I reported on things happening around me. We were glued to the television while we watched events unfold. On the sixteenth I posted about the 'pro-Leader' demonstrations I witnessed on the way home from work (using the name Kadaffi was taboo!). I didn't know it at the time but it was my last day of work for a very long time. We mostly stayed at home where it was safe, while in the distance we heard gunfire, and rumours and news found it's way to us from family, neighbours and friends. Phone and internet service started to become intermittent and I worried about friends and colleagues that were stranded in Benghazi. I was relieved when all of my colleagues finally made it safely out of Libya. In the meantime I was still here, watching the news and Kadaffi's ridiculous speeches - Zinga Zinga! Outside the safety of my house, Tripoli and the rest of Libya were erupting, helicopters were flying overhead, gunshots and unrest... Libya was in - the Arab spring continued.

March : HERE and HERE

The third of March marked the end of internet in Tripoli. The day before the internet service came to a halt I posted about a 'normal' day in Tripoli (which was far from normal). After that I began to write a daily journal that I kept  on an external hard drive that was kept stored away, hidden in a safe place, in case our house was ever raided. While the unrest in Libya continued I did my best to try to keep our lives as normal as possible. We got haircuts, I did laundry and gardening, and we watched the store shelves empty of goods. We worried about how long our stockpiles of food and other supplies would last and we prayed for the UN to impose a no-fly zone (which finally happened). On the 19th we witnessed the first NATO bombing in Tripoli - we thought it would all be over quickly but it was just the beginning. As the month progressed we settled into a routine of being bombed, watching the news and getting on with survival.  


The war continued, and we wondered whether we should evacuate. Food supplies continued to dwindle and  some subsidized foods began to appear at neighbourhood cooperatives. I got together with a friend to try to establish a packing up service for those ex-pats who had left their belongings behind when they fled. It proved to be unsuccessful and we scrapped the idea because without internet it was impossible to coordinate with those living outside Libya and by this time most places where ex-pats lived had been looted by Libyans - It was heartbreaking and I was so disappointed in the behaviour of those Libyans who believed that whatever was left behind was fair game. Meanwhile, I spent time cooking, reading, gardening and getting on with life. The TV news was on 24/7. The challenge to get gasoline had begun as people waiting for hours in long lines. And the war and bombing continued....


The war dragged on, NATO bombings became a regular event. There was a constant worry about supplies and gasoline. A friend and I found ourselves in the middle of a very dangerous situation at the gas station - one of the scariest events of my life.  Spring was ending, summer was beginning. The kids found interesting things to do on the farm (that involved scorpions and snakes!) and I did some major spring cleaning, sorting out  papers and books. One good thing happened - I finally managed to get my salary. We settled into a routine of nearly nightly air raids and lots of missed sleep.


There was a lot of bombing this month as the weather got hotter and hotter. We also started to suffer from power cuts which meant no air conditioning. On the 15th we were treated with the total eclipse of the full moon. We watched in awe as the full moon slowly disappeared and then reappeared. I spent a lot of time worrying about my mother who was in hospital in America. It was so frustrating being so far away and without internet. There was lots of TV news, reading, gardening and cooking as we wondered how much longer it would continue - and we planned for Ramadan.


The kids had final exams and we wondered how they would manage as they hadn't been to school for the lessons - just going for the exams. We also wondered whether we'd have enough petrol to get them there. With the heat and nightly bombing the kids found it very difficult to study. At one point NATO dropped leaflets on the military camp next to Sara's school asking that the area be evacuated. The leaflets were collected and destroyed and no one was told to evacuate. School continued as usual. The best thing about the whole month was that we had a house-guest who kept us busy. It was fun to have a visitor to spend time with. Power cuts were a constant problem, we switched on the news as soon as the electricity came on to find out what was happening. We geared up to face Ramadan.

August : HERE and HERE

Ramadan began on the first day of August. It would be a Ramadan like no other. We spent whole days without electricity. Cooking gas was getting scarce and gasoline was almost impossible to get except at very high prices on the black market. We did our best to cope with the situation while NATO continued their bombing raids. The most terrifying night of my life was spent when NATO bombed a nearby military camp that was being used as munitions storage facility. The deafening noise of explosions could be heard the whole night long and into the afternoon the following day - rockets and debris spiraling overhead. I feared that we would not survive. When we had power we were glued to the TV news, we watched the rebels' progress and worried about what would happen in Tripoli. We prayed to be saved from a bloodbath and our prayers were answered when Tripoli was freed. Not long afterwards the internet was reconnected and we were finally able to communicate with the world. Ramadan ended and we celebrated Eid and freedom, but although Tripoli was free the war still waged on in other parts of the country.


On the first of the month I posted the daily journal that I had written during the months without internet. We attended celebrations in Martyr's Square and my son Yusef toured Bab Al Azizia. I finally went back to work and was thrilled to witness my students exploring the freedom of expression; finally being able to speak their minds for the first time in their lives. I also spent time with friends at the beach. The war was still not over but we were putting our lives back together in Tripoli.


Tripoli celebrated, the city was decorated in flags of red, green and black. Graffiti and murals adorned every surface. My husband and I rushed out to document what we could of this artistic expression. On the 20th Kadafy was finally captured and Libya was liberated at last.


There was a lot of catching up to do on the internet, I spent lots of time reading articles and blogs that I had missed during the internet blackout. I posted about unexploded ordnance. Good news as Saif Al Islam was captured and on the 23rd as Libya's new cabinet was announced. I spent time with family and friends and had time for the garden too.


There were only three posts this month because of the poor internet service. One was a tribute to Libyan female bloggers, another a post about the education system (lack of) in Libya and the final post of the year was a complaint about the internet service - which is still giving me headaches!

2011 was one heck of a year. I'm happy to see the end of it, but honestly I can say that I have so much to be thankful for. And I discovered something about me: I lived through a war and I am a stronger person for it.

Best wishes to you all for a wonderful 2012!


  1. You did have quite a year! I prayed for you and your family throughout the silence. So glad to see you back online.

  2. I spent some wonderful time in Libya, at Tarhuna. I hope the country will recover soon and looking forward t visit your country again. Wish everyone in Libya a happy and fruitful 2012

  3. May you and your family have a Happy and Great New 2012 year.

    Maybe THIS will be the year I'll finaly join you all in Tripoli.



  4. Happy New year for you and family !

  5. I want to thank you so much for sharing your life with all of us through your blog. I enjoyed reading your postings before I moved to Libya. And I checked frequently after my evacuation to hear of the local news. I am so happy that you and your family made it safely through the war. I pray that 2012 will bless you and your family. And that great things to happen in Libya.

  6. I wish to you all the best in 2012 and I hope you get what you lost last year.
    I think this year will will be the year of hard working and learning.
    the knowledge will become the more valuable in our new Libya.


Guidelines for submitting comments

You can rant, you can rave, you can question. I ask only that you are thoughtful about what you write.

Comments are reviewed by me before publication. I don’t edit comments, but I do reserve the right to delete comments that violate my guidelines.

These are the kinds of comments that I think are not appropriate for publication:

- Defamatory or libelous remarks
- Abusive, harassing, or threatening language
- Obscene, vulgar, or profane language
- Racially, ethnically or religiously offensive words
- Illegal or encourages criminal acts
- Known to be inaccurate or contains a false attribution
- Infringes copyrights, trademarks, publicity or any other rights of others
- Impersonates anyone (actual or fictitious)
- Off-topic or spam
- Solicits funds, goods or services, or advertises

Please submit comments in English.

Thank you

My Link List