Saturday, December 01, 2012

More First Impressions

My last blog post was an exchange with Victoria of Words on My Mind about our arrival in Libya. There's another arrival story by Old Momma, who is an American who lived in Tajoura for a while in 2006 and has recently returned. Her first impressions in 2006 are here: First Impressions. You can read her renewed first impressions from September 2012 on her blog: Trip of a Lifetime. I really enjoyed reading her stories... I hope she finds Libya an easier place to live this time around.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Arriving in Libya for the first time...

Over the years I've met all kinds of interesting people as the result of my blog. Some people come here just by chance and have a look around and then go on their merry way, others visit regularly. Most visitors come because they have some kind of connection to Libya - they are Libyan that live here or live abroad, married to/engaged to/dating a Libyan, ex-pats who are working here or thinking of working here, relatives of someone living here, etc. 

One visitor to my blog who's also become my Facebook friend is an American woman named Victoria. I think of Victoria as my Wheelus connection because she came to Libya when her father was working on Wheelus Airforce Base. She's also a writer and has got a blog of her own called Words on My Mind and has written a book about her experiences in Libya titled: An Army Brat in Libya; Memories of Tripoli in the 1950s

A few months ago Victoria and I decided we should have a blog exchange. She'd write a post for my blog and I'd write one for hers. We both wrote about our arrival. Below is Victoria's story, to see mine you will have to visit her blog, Words on My Mind

Tripoli Memory
By: Victoria Giraud

As a young American teenager in the 1950s, I was fortunate to spend some formative years in a wondrous Middle Eastern world. The unique  smells, sounds, and landscape of the area has never lost the magic it held in my heart. I still wear the silver bangle with Libya written in Arabic that I bought there.
It was an extraordinary time made more so by my awakening to the world and to the mysteries of blossoming womanhood, a rite of passage from age twelve to age fifteen, though looking backward often adds its own sentimental patina to events. My parents had come through a difficult time in their marriage and were enjoying each other again, and my strict and demanding father left me alone, within reason, to have a splendid time socially.
What changes were wrought in my life during that impressionable time, an ideal time to be living in such a unique world! My long wavy hair, which I wore in a ponytail, was cut by an Italian hairdresser and fashioned into a short, curly do, and I discovered I had naturally curly hair. My flat chest experienced its first budding of breasts and along with it came an active interest in boys - American boys, English boys, Italian boys. I heard my first really dirty joke, learned swear words and explicit gestures in Arabic and Italian, got embarrassed by my own farts, and had my first make-out session with a boy who truly knew how to kiss.
In the middle 1950s Tripoli was a bustling, fairly cosmopolitan city inhabited by Arab (we were taught to call them Libyans), Italian, British, American and an assortment of other European and Middle Eastern nationalities. Both the British and the Americans had military bases, and international oil companies were drilling for the oil that would eventually make the country rich beginning in 1959. Libya, for the first half of the twentieth century under Italian rule, had only gained its independence in 1951, an auspicious occasion marked by the renaming their main thoroughfare: 24 December Street.
Like many major events in the life of an Army brat, I wasn't sure I wanted to uproot and travel to such a strange land. I was amazed and a little dismayed when my father received orders to report to North Africa. We were stationed at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, at the time, and Africa couldn't have been more distant from civilization as far as my twelve-year-old mind was concerned. Morocco was our first assigned destination, specifically the peculiarly named Nouasseur. Then, since Morocco was having violent political problems, the orders were changed to Tripoli - Wheelus Air Force Base. My Army Corps of Engineers father would command a military group that had something to do with maintaining that strategic airfield, the closest, large American location to Russia, an important fact in those Cold War days.  He would also be traveling to mysterious places such as Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Saudi Arabia.
Our little family, which included Darby, my two-year-old brother and  Tupper, my six-year-old sister, boarded a military prop plane at Maguire Air Force Base in New Jersey the week before Thanksgiving 1955. We left a snowy landscape and headed southeast over the Atlantic, our circuitous flight path leading us first to the tiny Azores Islands. Propeller-driven planes, not as efficient as jets, required refueling stops. We landed on the islands about 3 a.m. Azores time, were roused from sleep, and dependents and military personnel were herded off the plane and onto waiting buses for a trip up a windy mountain road for breakfast in a non-commissioned officers club. A couple of hours later we were jammed back aboard, but mechanical difficulties kept us on the ground several more hours. Then it was on to Nouasseur Air Force Base in Morocco for another stop before landing at Wheelus Air Force Base, east of Tripoli. Military planes, whether carrying troops or dependents, weren't on fixed schedules. You landed when you landed.
What seemed like days but was more than likely some thirty hours later, we reached our new home. It was 9 p.m. in Tripoli, but after so much time and so many time zones, who could tell. No snow on the ground here: the weather was temperate and probably no colder than 55 degrees. Only after a good night's sleep would we regain our land legs and clarity of hearing - the noise and vibration of prop planes had a habit of disorienting the body, which included sight and hearing, for hours.

An officer from my father's new command met us at Wheelus Air Base and drove us the eight miles into town to our temporary quarters - the Albergo Del Mahari, a hotel that definitely marked our passage into an Arab country.
The flat roof of the white stucco hotel was highlighted in front with a dome situated upon two pentagon-shaped, windowed bays. Just under the dome was a high bay accented with a multi-paned, oval window on each of its five sides; under it was a flatter and wider bay with opaque, rectangular glass-block windows on each section. Its unusual design, to which I would soon become accustomed, reminded me of a tiered wedding cake.

Tired and disheveled, we were led under a portico and through the hotel's glass double doors into a spacious marble-tiled lobby. Each side of the five-sided lobby faced a different courtyard; the center of each courtyard contained either a fountain or a small, rectangular pool. Vines covered the courtyard walls; small trees, many of them poinsettias, dotted the space and surrounded several benches.              

Our tiny suite of rooms was reached across a courtyard with a fountain, and our suite faced the courtyard garden. It was like an enchanting scene from Arabian Nights - the mosaic designs, the unfamiliar, musky fragrance of the air.
My excitement turned to apprehension as I surveyed the tiny bedroom my sister and I would share: two narrow single beds covered by dark red-striped bedspreads. The strange surroundings almost overwhelmed me. I felt disoriented and fearful - gone were the familiar touchstones of stateside life. And it all smelled so odd. I couldn't wait until we had our own place and were surrounded by our own furniture.  
Our private bathroom changed my mood.  The very deep rectangular tub was unusual, even ludicrous to American eyes. The tub was designed as a seat; when the bather was seated, the tub would hold enough water to reach our armpits. There was no stretching out in this oddity. Prominently hung on the wall was a urinal, with no sign of a regular toilet. Obviously, a man's convenience was more important in this Middle Eastern palace. Giggling at the incongruity, the two of us found we couldn't even improvise; it was too high to fit our private plumbing. We'd have to find a normal toilet to use.

 Visit Victoria's blog for more stories.... 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Fresh Air

The weather is lovely during the day so we've been opening up the windows and doors. The iron gate on the front door does nothing to keep the puppies out. They keep coming in, trying to see what we are doing. Curious little things... Shoo! Shoo!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tick Tock Says the Clock!

I was so thrilled about the implementation of daylight savings time in Libya. Oh how wonderful to be heading out the door with the sun shining brightly overhead! But the whole concept of daylight savings time has been ruined.....

  • Nora came home from university and said the lectures had all been moved back an hour.... 
  • Ibrahim's school announced that they will start an hour earlier...
  • Upon arrival at Jenna's school we were told that she was an hour late - they have moved the start of the school day at her high school back an hour too...

Hmmm... you always hear the phrase 'the village idiot'. It's always singular, never plural.... except in Libya - it's definitively plural here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Setting our clocks back an hour

Daylight savings time has been implemented this year in Libya. We haven't had a time change here for years. The whole idea seems to confuse everyone, but I'm happy to wake up in the morning as the sun rises. Breakfast on the front porch with a glorious sunrise - what a wonderful way to start the day! 

Yesterday's sunrise - the view on our farm.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Who was that woman?

I had a car accident yesterday. No one was hurt, thank God, but the whole event just pissed me off. This is what happened:

I was on my way to pick up the kids from school which means it was high traffic time. The roads were really congested but cars were moving, albeit slowly. I made it round a round-about and onto the road and all of a sudden - BAM! There was a big crunching noise. 

Someone had hit my left rear bumper. Then the car swerved off the side of the road into a dirt road in an attempt to escape. But the dirt road ended in a dead end - trapped with nowhere to go. At this point I noticed that it was a female driving the car. She tried to back up and then went a bit forward, opened the door and got out of the car but the car kept going - she hadn't put the car in park! She managed to get in the car and stop it and then got back out. She took out her mobile and placed a call and then started walking quickly towards the road where I had parked.

I got out of my car and checked for damage. Luckily there was only a thick scratch. I turned to speak with the girl but she kept walking, ignoring me and trying to pretend that nothing at all had happened! She crossed the road and by this time I was shouting at her to stop running away. People in the road were watching so she finally gave in and turned around and came over to me. 

I asked her why she was trying to run away and she started shouting at me, "I had my blinker on and you hit me!"  I told her "Look sister, I was in front of you. You've hit me in the rear." "No! No! I had my blinker on - you hit me!" she insisted. I pointed at the scratch and asked "Sister, how could I possibly hit you with the rear of my car when we were both going forward? I didn't back into you you. And why were you trying to escape? When you are involved in an accident you are supposed to stop - it is required by law. What if I had been injured?" Of course she had no answer to that. So I continued "Thank God no one has been hurt and there is only minimal damage to my car." She wasn't at all worried about her own car - she had never even bothered to look at it when she had got out.

There was no point in wasting any more of my time on this girl. I extended my hand and she looked down at it and then reluctantly put her hand out to shake mine. "Asalamualaikum sister. Have a nice day" I told her. Then I got in my car and went on my way. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

On My To Do List

I haven't been to the Tripoli Museum in ages, since before the war. It's on my list of things to do. I want to see what changes have been made - they used to have nearly a whole floor dedicated to Gadaffi. I want to find out what's in it's place, if anything. And did they get rid of the stuffed deformed animals? I always found it amusing that they were next to the Gadaffi exhibits. All kidding aside, the museum is pretty impressive, which is why it warrants another visit.

I took these a few years ago when I visited the museum with some friends.

Not to be missed: The stuffed deformed animal section!
Also on my list of things to do is to head for the beach for some beach-combing  I want to drag back some things to put in my garden. I found a really informative website listing the tides in Tripoli... have to go when the tide is low - and lately that is in the morning after I drop my kids off at school.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

More Unexploded Ordinance in Libya - Type 314

Disarming munitions is an ongoing process in Libya, one that is likely to take years and years. Recently I came across an article about the discovery of French made cluster bombs that have been found in the west of Libya. 
C. J. Chivers/The New York Times

During the war, NATO's airstrikes repeatedly hit one of Libya's largest munition storage dumps, in an area called Ga-a, resulting in huge explosions that lasted hours and hours. Later, the munitions depot was looted by anti-Qaddafi fighters who made off with anything that they thought was useful or salable. All kinds of weapons were stored at the site, among them were French made cluster bombs named Type 314. 

C. J. Chivers/The New York Times
Little is known about how Type 314s made their way to Libya, but what is known is that so far the disposal teams working to disarm munitions in Libya haven't got a clue how the Type 314s work or how to safely defuse them. Surely France's military has this knowledge, but this information is kept in a classified ordinance disposal document database and because of military classifications this information is being withheld. This is causing a major problem for disposal technicians as they have no way of dealing with this type of munition when they are found. 

For a more in-depth article about this situation please see: French Cluster Munitions in Libya, and a Call for Help 

Or, if you have any information about Type 314s and their disposal  please contact: or - anonymity will be provided. 

It's All in the Intonation

Me: Hey Honey, I'm learning Gaelic online.
Hubby: (looks disinterested) That's nice.
Me: Ciamar a tha sibh?
Hubby: Ooooh Yeah! (looking very interested)
Me: No! That is NOT what that means! It means 'How are you?'.

I think I will skip to the advanced lessons... If Lesson One provoked such interest imagine what the advanced lessons will do!

Thanks Pig Sty Avenue for the link. It's been a good refresher of what beginner students go through.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mangling a Language

For years and years Gadaffi forbade any signs in English.... Maybe because he saw the mess the Chinese make of things... I'm looking forward to a new Libya with wonderfully funny signs. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Libya still finding it's feet, but hey, it's finally autumn!

It's finally autumn here. The weather is cooling off and we've had a few showers. Below is a picture I took   one day last week of an approaching storm at sunset. There was an incredible show of lightning right behind the mosque but I was never able to click fast enough to catch the lightning strikes.

We've finally finished painting the house, well just the stucco (or graffit as they call it here) so far. We still have to paint the ironwork. These days we're installing all the lighting and as my husband has decided to take on this project himself there is a lot of him going up and down ladders and turning on and off the electricity. But it looks good so far - I'm really pleased how it's all coming together.

Next Friday is Eid al Adha - the Feast of the Sacrifice or in Libya it's often referred to as Eid al Kabir, the Greater Eid. More information can be found about the holiday on: Wikipedia. We've already got our sacrificial ram. He was imported from Spain so we've aptly named him Juan. Usually we wait until right before Eid Day to buy our ram and this might be a better idea because Juan is becoming kind of a pet and I think it's going to be hard to slaughter and eat him. Poor Juan.

Libya has been a bit unsettled... There was a prison break last week so check points were in place around town. We're locking our doors and I'm not going out unless it's necessary.  Some areas around Tripoli had electricity cuts and now there are water cuts too that are expected to last for five days. Thankfully we have a well, so as long as we have electricity we have water. But most unsettling is the assault on Bani Walid. Clashes in the former Gadaffi stronghold have resulted in a number of deaths and injured so far. I wish they had sorted out the situation with Bani Walid a year ago, but the NTC were adamant that they were surrounded and would just give in... how stupid was that.... sigh...  There has been an increase in the number of helicopters and small planes flying over our house in the direction of Bani Walid. I hate the sound of the planes, they make me feel nervous. I pray that they find a peaceful solution.

Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of the death of Moamar Gadaffi. I will never forget that day for as long as I live

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Matter of Security

The news services are full of reports questioning the level of security at the US Consulate in Benghazi, as well as the embassy in Tripoli and other embassies throughout the region. Safety and security should be an issue for embassy personnel  but what about Americans living in countries where embassies are now open only for emergency services? And what are emergency services anyway? 

Recently, a friend of mine had an emergency and as she has no internet she asked if I would look online for the emergency phone number. Ok, that was easy enough... but wait! The phone numbers don't work! Out of service says the recording in Arabic. Plan B: Let's try the emergency email... within seconds of clicking on the send button I got an automatic reply. The message back was: 

Thank you for contacting the Consular Section at U.S. Embassy Tripoli.  We normally respond to inquiries within three business days. 

Three business days!?! For an emergency!?! There was also a different phone number than the one on their website... but of course that one doesn't work either. So, if you are an American in Libya and you have an emergency... 

You're just out of luck... 
Deal with it....

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

As time goes by....

When the weather is just right and the morning is peaceful I throw open all the doors and windows and let the fresh air and soft morning light inside. And to add to the mood I turn on some music.... moldy oldies. There are always some songs from Frank Sinatra thrown into the mix. Breakfast on the terrace. 

Yes, it's a great way to begin the day. But not only that, it sends my husband down memory lane. There's something about Frank Sinatra in the morning that reminds him of his childhood. The villa next door was leased by an American family. On beautiful mornings when the windows were all open, the sound of the radio drifted over from next door - Frank Sinatra joined them for breakfast. But better than that, it was the signal that breakfast would soon be over and the American kids from next door, Bobby, Butchy and Chrissy, would soon be sent out to play. My husband's childhood playmates.... I wonder what happened to them...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Life's hectic at the moment

The house is finally getting painted. The work started a few days ago and is going smoothly. I'm too busy with that and a million other things to post anything at the moment. You'll have to be patient and wait for me to have time to tell you about my latest adventures. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

An emotionally charged day

I'm deeply saddened by the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi that resulted in the death of the American ambassador, and other staff members as well as ten Libyans. My condolances to all their family members and friends. All of Libya is grieving. Dismay just isn't a strong enough word to describe how I felt upon hearing the news.

We spent the day watching the news, keeping up with twitter and facebook, and listening to the sound of drones overhead. In the evening my husband and I took a long walk around the farm, about five kilometres. Drones buzzed above us while in the distance we could hear gunfire from time to time - possibly a wedding?

When we came inside we watched the vote count for the new prime minister. At one point they stopped because someone had put two names on the ballot instead of one. After an argument they started the count over. Exciting to watch, it was a close count! Mustafa Abushagour, Libya's first democratically elected prime minister won by only two votes.

What a day! It was a day full of emotions; dismay, anger, sadness, disbelief, followed by hope for a better future.

we went to bed,
only to toss and turn,
the sound of drones continued
all night long.

Monday, September 10, 2012


I'm still going through re-entry depression. I'd tell you about it, but I'd just end up making you feel depressed or probably angry because I don't have anything nice to say about Libya.  So I won't fill you in on the details... doesn't that make you happy?

I've got a list a mile long of things that need to be done and I'm checking things off the list as I can manage to do things. As usual everything takes a lot more time than I had hoped.

I'm making some progress with my garden and planted lots and lots of flower seeds that I brought back with me from home. Now I just have to be patient while they decide to germinate and grow. I also brought home magnolia seeds... I've never had any luck with them in the past and so I'm trying once again. I spoke to a horticulturist when I was home that told me that magnolias are extremely difficult to grow from seed and I should just buy a tree... unfortunately, I couldn't find one that would fit in a suitcase (I really tried!).  A dream of mine is to have a magnolia tree in my garden - maybe my dream will come true. At any rate, gardening has been helping me with the re-entry depression... gardening = solace.

There is some hope that my house will finally be painted. We want what Libyans call graffit, which is kind of a texturized stucco. We've taken a sample of the colours we want to the painters and so far they haven't managed to match the colours... apparently no one has ever asked for the colours we want (no surprise!) and they are finding it difficult to mix the right hue. If and when they do, the painting will get underway.

School is supposed to start soon... some say it will begin on the fifteenth. The shops are bringing out school uniforms and school supplies. Summer will really be over soon! And life will fall into a routine... I hope.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I'm back

Trying to get things done, but as usual I'm getting the Libyan 'a bit later' or 'come back tomorrow' or 'it's not ready' or 'the person you need to see is not here' .... mazel, bukra, mish watiah, manash....

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Eid al-Fitr 2012

Ramadan ends today. I was blessed to be able to spend it this year with my oldest son and my family in Florida. The month flew by for me and it wasn't very difficult with the exception of being thirsty, but I know that it was extremely difficult for all in Libya as they suffered with high temperatures and constant cuts in electricity. May God except our fasts and reward us.

I wonder what next Ramadan will be like? Where I will be? What will be happening in the world?

For all who celebrate, I wish you a safe, peaceful and blessed Eid! .... Eid mubarak!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Looking Forward

I'm wrapping things up and planning my trip back to Libya. Packing up and doing last minute things. Ramadan is almost over. I've enjoyed spending it with my son and also sharing iftar (fast breaking meals) with family and friends. Next week my mother will be celebrating her 77th birthday, so that's something to plan for and look forward to.

What do I have to look forward to in Libya? They've been having rolling blackouts throughout the country - and this being the hottest part of the year with temperatures over a hundred degrees F most of the time. My family tell me the power is out a few hours every day and it is expected to get worse, not better.

I've been told that there are a few casualties in my garden. And the kids will be getting ready to begin a new school year. I'll have plenty to keep me busy.... but not until I get over jet lag... I am not looking forward to that!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Getting into Ramadan

Ramadan is nearly half way over, it seems like it's only begun. Everyday I log on to the Internet and turn on the messenger to chat with my family in Libya and to see what my girls are cooking up for the fast breaking meal and we usually chat again after they've broken their fast. Of course, with the time difference I still have six more hours until the sun sets.

My son Adam had especially requested that I spend Ramadan with him in the United States this year. For the past few years he's been fasting alone. With his work and study schedule it's difficult for him to participate in local activities in the area's mosques. He's got to be at work by 5:30 in the morning, so there are no late nights for him. We've been breaking our fast with my family and friends, who incidentally aren't Muslim, and I think they're enjoying the food.

In the past I'd written an article about Ramadan in Libya and posted it on my blog. This year I've noticed a some well written articles about how Libyans practice this Holy Month. Nihal Zaroug has written an article titled 'Ramadan in Tripoli' that was featured in the Libya Herald. Meanwhile, the Tripoli Post has been publishing a series of articles about Ramadan called 'Tales of a Libyan Ramadan' by writer Gada Mafoud. So far there are three articles; part one: 'First Ramadan as a Free Libya', part two: 'Libyan Customs During Ramadan' and part three: 'Libyan Men and Ramadan'. I'll be watching for more of the series. 

I've noticed a few articles and stories on the net about non-Muslims who are fasting Ramadan for various reasons. One story that caught my eye is about a Dallas, Texas United Methodist pastor named Rev. Wess Magruder. He's decided to observe the month of Ramadan and blog about his experience. I've been enjoying the insights on his blog

There's a photography competition entitled Capture the Spirit of Ramadan that was created in an effort to share with the world the essence of the Holy Month and to help eradicate misconceptions about the Muslim faith through the art of photography while delivering a cross-cultural and inter-faith message that captures the spirit of Ramadan. StudioBasel for Creative Solutions is awarding cash prizes to the best photos and the top 100 will be published in an ebook and posted on their Facebook page. Check out the beautiful photography that's been submitted, or better yet, join the competition.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


It's Ramadan and I'm still here in Florida with my oldest son at my mom's house, while my husband and kids are at home in Libya. We had Libyan soup the first four days of Ramadan for nostalgia's sake - my son was happy as he hadn't had it in so long. But four days of that is enough! Tonight we'll go out to eat... we have coupons for Steak 'n Shake

I'm really getting spoiled here, food is easy to make, restaurants are everywhere, the choices at the supermarket are amazing. But aside from food is the Internet. Yes, the Internet. Lightening speed - click on something and there you are. Yesterday I downloaded a 2G file that took about 10 minutes. And there is free WiFi almost everywhere you go here. 

In contrast, Libya Herald had a recent article that stated that Libyan Internet was the slowest in the world. That is, when you even have Internet! A few weeks ago my kid's wimax account got hacked... someone took over their user name and password. They had to go to the company to sort it out. This past week my wimax account has been hacked twice and today when it wasn't working again my husband was told that LTT had closed my account. Thankfully, the representative gave him a temporary username and password to use while they try to straighten out what is going on with my account. Oh my poor hubby! He's had to spend the first part of Ramadan standing in line at LTT... What I want to know is: How on earth do accounts get hacked? I wonder if it's an inside job... sigh.. and that's STEALING! And in RAMADAN!.... Shame on you whoever is doing this!

The weather here in Florida is hot, and humid. Real feel temperatures are about 100F or more every day. Gatorade is my new best friend this Ramadan... I think I drink nearly a gallon every night!

Gatorade is my new best friend!
Ramadan Kareem!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A week's worth

There's been more excitement in Libya (voting and elections) than in my life in Florida. Libya even made the front page of the local newspaper one day ... three exciting paragraphs! This is what I've been up to...

Adam and I went to watch the Tampa Bay Rays play against the New York Yankees. Baseball usually isn't my thing, but going to games is fun because there is more than baseball going on. We had a great time.

My mother and I spent some time shopping for furniture. She wants a new dining room table. We saw one she liked but we're still going to look around some more. The showroom was fabulous. I thought the palm trees were funny. Power recliner chairs... we need those in Libya!

The Fourth of July was quite nice. We had some family and a few friends over for a simple meal.... I found some really nice smoked beef sausages that we threw on the grill with the chicken, three kinds of potato salad, coleslaw, fruit salad, pasta, chips and dip. Unfortunately, someone forgot to bring the corn-on-the-cob. And there were cupcakes, cake and ice-cream for dessert. ... could we move after eating all that? Barely!

We finally roused ourselves and headed to the beach around sunset to watch the fireworks display. We all had a good time. 

While we were out and about one day we noticed a huge nest on a light pole at the corner of a busy intersection. We could see a pair of raptors. I don't know exactly what they are, maybe Birding Rob can identify them?

Here's a close up with the zoom... I need to upgrade to a better camera!

My mom had another doctor appointment so one morning was spent doing that. We had to wait a few minutes in the examining room, but there were plenty of magazines to read. Doesn't she look cute in her paper dress? How come there are no magazines or paper dresses in Libya?

One day, my sister, nephew and I met some friends at Largo Park. Once a month they offer free train rides on their tiny little railway. The train takes you all around the park, through a tunnel and over ponds. It's actually quite fun... we rode the train three times! There are all kinds of interesting things going on at the park...  the high school girls' flag team had practice, a small group was learning fencing and jousting, the playground area was packed, lots of people were out getting exercise and walking their dogs. Everything was very clean, well organized, and a big focus on safety. I'm looking forward to the day Libya will have such places because they sure deserve them... sigh... 

Jeremiah contemplating whether his mother would allow him to jump in the pond or not.

An oak tree as we zoom past on the train going 5 miles per hour.
We went out for dinner. There must have been hundreds of choices on the menu. Everything looked so good it was hard to decide. One thing I love about America is that they make sure you have a drink within seconds of sitting down... and they keep refilling. 

We went to the library where my mother took a beginners course on how to use an iPad... she needs to know how to work her 'machine'. There is lots happening at the library; movies, story telling, book clubs, discussion groups, computers, courses for computers and business, a coffee shop and a book shop, a garden... and there are books too, with lots of places to sit quietly, contemplate life or read. I love the library - it's one of my favourite places to be.

 That was my week....

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Voting was easy for most people

My anal retentive hubby took FOREVER at the polling station.... he had to make sure the ink on his finger was perfect. :-O

Congratulations Libya!!!

Monday, July 02, 2012


Maybe one day there will be drive thru shawarma in Libya.

Double drive thru!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Weathered the storm and had a wedding

Tropical storm Debby kept us sitting inside for a few days. There were fierce winds and it rained and poured and rained and poured some more. There were flood warnings and tornado warnings, but we were safe inside. We watched the weather reports on TV, and sat on the back porch and watched the rain pour down and the trees bend in the wind. I didn't sleep well at night because the rain pelted against the house and the window next to my bed, the winds howled and  I waited for a tornado to sweep the house away with us inside. But in the end the storm blew over, the winds died down and the sun came out. 

One day we braved the storm to go to the doctor for my mother's follow up appointment - it was good news! What a relief! After the storm passed we took a drive around the area. Lots of tree branches had been broken off, a few trees pulled out of the ground, tossed aside as though they were tumbleweeds. There wasn't any flooding in our area, so we headed for the beach and watched the waves, and stayed to watch the sun set. There were others on the beach doing the same.

We were relieved that the storm had passed and the weather had cleared because my sister Holly was getting married... and the wedding was going to be held on the beach. It was a simple wedding, with close friends and family attending, and a druid priestess presiding. 
the vows... at sunset
And the picture I like the best.... the newlyweds kissed while my sister Kristen's son, Jeremiah, made sand angels (completely oblivious to everything). 

Another sunset picture that I took before the ceremony began.

This morning we got up and decided to head back to the beach to visit the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary. It's the largest wild bird hospital in the USA and is a treatment and rehabilitation center for wild birds injured in oil spills, by fish hooks, plastic bags, and accidents. There is always something interesting to see there. 

I took my camera... and my four-year-old nephew... so of course I didn't have much luck with pictures. Here are a few.

I think this one's called the Dodo bird...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

An update on beach safety in Libya

It's summer again in the northern hemisphere, and time once again for another one of my summer safety posts. Actually I was reminded of this when I spoke to my daughter the other day. She mentioned that my husband was attending the funeral of one of my sister-in-law's nephews who had died tragically by drowning.   Another life lost, maybe one that could have been saved.

So many people are injured and lives are lost each summer as the lure of Libya's beautiful coastline attracts beach-goers. Nearly every year I've made a post about beach safety.  One year I posted about the dangers of jellyfish encounters and what to do if you get caught up in their tentaclesAnother year I posted a link on how to recognize the real signs of someone drowning

In 2008 I posted about how to survive a riptide: here and here, resulting in a barrage of comments (many of which were unpublishable!) because I mentioned how so many Libyans didn't know how to swim. The purpose of the post was to educate people about riptides and in the end the post inspired one reader, who just happened to be Moamar Gaddafi's official spokesman, Mousa Ibrahim and his German wife, Julia, to make a beach safety video which I then posted in a follow up post on my blog

This year there are even more dangers on Libya's beaches as a result of the war. Many of the beaches were mined and even though many of the local beaches have been cleared of mines, small arms, light weapons and unexploded ordinance, there is still a danger that some may have been left behind. 

Not only could there be mines buried in the sands, but there is also the possibility of mines floating in the water as it has been documented that NATO intercepted boats laying anti-ship mines outside Mistrata during the war. NATO cleared the mines but there is always the possibility that more exist. 

image from

Oftentimes children fall victim because they are attracted to the mines. Libyan children have been learning about mine awareness at school this year, but it's still important to continue to reinforce the what they've learnt during their holidays. It's not just an issue that affects children, continued awareness is important for everyone. 

image from

Have a safe summer!

Friday, June 08, 2012

Chilling Out

Mom's home from the hospital (again). We're hanging out together, watching TV, reading the newspaper and looking out the window at the clouds and rain. She's getting bored and thinking up reasons why we should go out. All of a sudden it's imperative that she get an oil change for her car and she needs to buy paper cups at Sam's Club. .... She's not going anywhere.... I'm not letting her. It's time to recuperate, rest, and relax.

I've been watching Libya's news. How disappointing to see that some idiots from Tarhouna surrounded the airport a few days after I left. I got out of there in time! The situation is back under control but British Airways has stopped all their flights - so now I am stuck here which I'm looking at as good news for me. And then there are the idiots that thought it would be a good idea to bomb the US Consulate in Benghazi. These are probably the same retards that are complaining that they're unemployed because the foreign companies aren't returning. I wonder if Libya will hold elections as planned. I read somewhere that they'll be postponed for a few weeks. I'm so happy that I'm watching all this from afar. Well, actually none of this is on American TV... the news services here couldn't care less!

Friday, June 01, 2012

Adjusting to civilization

I'm getting through jetlag, time zone change, and adjusting to the humidity. I'm sitting with my mom in the recovery room. All's well so far. Hopefully she will be discharged later today.

I ate real ice-cream, and graham crackers, and I drank real milk. Oh my God... real milk! How on earth did I ever drink that stuff they have in Libya? I'll need to figure out the remote control. My mom's cat isn't sure what to think of me. He sits outside on the ledge of the kitchen window looking in at me... who is this woman?

Hurricane season began today. It's raining outside.

It's so good to be home.

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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Halfway there

I left Tripoli yesterday. My flight was an hour late and there was a huge argument going on in the departure lounge. I flew to Tunis on a flight that had lots of sick old people going for medical treatment. The old lady sitting next to me spent the entire flight burping and belching. She never puked but she certainly made me feel queezy.. ugghh...

The flight from Tunis to London was fantastic. The seat next to me was empty and the man on the aisle seat didn't belch, burp or fart even once!

Today I'm on the last leg of my journey. If all goes well I'll make it home in time to spend time with my mom before she goes in hospital for surgery tomorrow.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Some Future Plans

I'll be having a break soon... I keep telling myself that, but I keep tacking on another week or a few days. I really need a break, I know I do... but I really like work too. Therefore, I've planned to do some work on my break!

One of the things I have planned for when I have a bit of free time is to reorganise things in my online life. I'm going to purge 'friends' that aren't friends on Facebook. I'm going to unsubscribe from groups that I never look at... why oh why does Facebook allow people to add you to groups? They should just send you an invite that you can decline. I find myself in a mad scramble, rushing to log-in to Facebook to unsubscribe before I end up with hundreds of notifications and silly comments in my email inbox. I've already uninstalled Facebook's desktop program... jeesh! What an intrusion! Do I need to be notified when someone liked one of my comments... especially one where I just typed in 'LOL!" or something just as stupid? 

And then there is the blog... I've already started to reorganise here. I changed the settings for comments. In the past I allowed anonymous comments because I thought that people (Libyan in particular) would feel better (safer) if they could comment anonymously. But in the 'new Libya' you can say what you like, so you no longer need to hide. If you've got an opinion, you're going to have to own it by signing in first. I'm still moderating the comments and there are still guidelines. Hopefully this will limit the amount of comments I get from idiots who don't seem to read the guidelines... always the ones who comment anonymously. 

but follow the guidelines... or get your own blog!
I've got some projects planned that will involve research and reading... and then writing.  

It's going to take a while because my Internet is on for a day and then off for three or four. It's annoying. It's hard to accomplish anything. And complaining does nothing.

I'm still working on getting a ticket home... actually I'm not really working on it that hard.... because I'm trying to avoid DRAMA and elevated blood pressure. Getting the man I married to cough up the cash needed for tickets and expenses is not easy. What a miser!... sigh.... And it will require having to listen to endless whining and moaning and complaining about who will take over my roles while I'm gone.

Who will drive the kids around? 
Who will do the grocery shopping? 
Who will do this, and who will do that?

.... quite honestly, I don't care! Let the whole place fall down around your ears while I'm gone. Honey, I held your hand all through the war, now it's time to let go for a couple of months. I need a break... before I have a breakdown! I don't need to recharge my batteries; I need a completely new set of them.

Mom's house
I'm going home... to a place that smells good, where the streets are clean and free of potholes. Where people drive carefully and wear their seat-belts and babies aren't hanging out the windows. There won't be machine guns there and I won't have to worry about getting caught in the crossfire.  

The beach five minutes from my mom's house.
It will be hurricane season when I get there. I'm going to sit on the back porch every afternoon and watch the rain pour down.  I'm going to go for walks on the beach and relax in the park. There is plenty of shopping on the agenda, and visits to museums and other places of interest. But most of all, I'm going to spend quality time with my mom, my sisters (and their kids) and my son.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Poem... for Libya

Two weeks after the February 17th uprising began in Libya I visited a good friend. We talked about what was going on and she confided that she'd been inspired to write a poem. She retrieved the paper that she'd written the poem and read it to me and then put the paper carefully away. Later, after I had gone home, she hid the poem, secreting it away so well that she forgot where she put it. Recently she came across it again and rewrote it for me, presenting it to me as a gift, rolled into a scroll and tied with a thin, red satin ribbon. She gave me permission to publish it here on my blog.

I find it especially moving - she had written the poem during the first week and a half of the uprising. There is so much hope in the words, a hope for freedom and democracy for Libya. I hope that those Libyans who read the poem will remember to register to vote - it's so very, very important.

The poem has no title...

From the mountain tops
Across the valleys
From the seaside beaches
Across the desert sand
Rang the People's cry - 

The footsteps of our youth
were steady in their forward march
Armed with naught but courage
they refused to retreat from their Goal
The cruel foe endeavored to stand
and repel Democracy's march
Freely flowed the precious blood
of our Youth
Yet still they would not be stopped
The Flame of Hope burned bright
in their Hearts and would not die

Our eyes fill with tears
and our hearts burst with Pride
At the Bravery enacted in Freedom's cause
Let us ever revere the memory 
of the Days of Change
Which though dearly bought
Gained for our Beloved Land - 

Rhonda Ahmed
February 26, 2011

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Monday, May 07, 2012

A Basic Human Right

I'm a disgruntled LTT customer. Their service is horrible and I am fed up to here and then some. Because of where I live I am stuck with having only Wimax available... which is pretty sad considering I'm only about a 20 minute drive to the centre of Tripoli, and just five minutes away from the university. Who is to blame? Those who ran things in the past, or the present?

I haven't had internet service for the past four days. Sometimes the little icon indicator says there is service (when there really isn't), but mostly the little icon shows up with a yellow triangle with an exclamation point inside it. I've paid 30 dinars for NOTHING!

What pisses me off is that sometimes the internet service works... and I can happily get on with Skyping my family and friends, checking my email and reading the news. But then all of a sudden there is no service what-so-ever... nothing.. nada.. Now NO SERVICE is lasting for days on end. I feel cheated and frustrated, especially as one of the things I want to use the internet for is to look for airline tickets (so I can get out of here for a much needed break!).

I've tried calling the company... the phone rings and then switches over to a busy signal. I've tried the operator on the company's 116 service - the phone just disconnects. There is no way to reach them other then to take time off to go to the company. The last time I went they had a big beefy goon standing in front of the door, preventing anyone from going in. He was rude, and refferred to me as 'Ya Mama' to which I told him there was no way on earth (or this universe) that I was his 'mama' (or even his aunt).

Guess what LTT? Internet service is considdered a BASIC HUMAN RIGHT! And the last time I looked in the mirror I looked human...... an angry, fed up human, but definitely human..... sigh...

See you tomorrow LTT. Bright and early.

(This was sent using Almadar's crappy, intermittent, and extremely slow internet service)

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

It's time

I'm wrapping things up so I can take a much needed break. Next month there are supposed to be elections in Libya and quite honestly I think this is gonna be a good time to 'get the heck outa Dodge'. Let them get on with it... without me. But of course before that can happen there will be major drama in my house. Sigh... you'd think I was asking to take a trip to the moon. It's been three years since I've been 'home'. I guess that's once in a blue moon. ... Mr Full Moon.... sigh....

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Some pictures to share

Once in a while I look at the photos that my husband has on his mobile phone. I found a few that were interesting so I thought I'd share them with you. 

The first few are pictures of my husband's aunt's home in the heart of Suk Juma. She lives in a very old house that was built by the Turks during the Ottoman Empire. The house has an open-air central courtyard surrounded by rooms and living areas. The picture below is the view of the courtyard looking out of my husband's aunt's room. She says that when she got married she came to live in this room. All her children were born in the room and she hopes to live out her last breath in the same room. 

Below is the central courtyard. Notice the symbols to ward off the evil eye!

One of the doorways. The house is in it's original form. The family are very proud of this house and keep up with the maintenance.

This is the main entrance of the house. The walls throughout the house are over a foot thick. The ceilings are made of wood. The rooms have built-in storage and raised areas for sleeping.

There were quite a few pictures on the camera that were taken around different areas of the city centre and the Medina. It looks quite festive with the flags.

This fountain is in Martyr's Square. It was built during the Italian occupation. I should have straightened it out, it's slightly tilted... never-mind...

Some poor guy parked his truck, thinking it was safe... only to return and find that it was being swallowed up by a sinkhole.

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