Sunday, December 29, 2013

The past 12 months - Recapping 2013

Here's a recap of my world, 2013...

 My single post for January was about the weather... as usual it was a rainy January and I spent quite a bit of time in the car, traversing on very bad roads.

The month began with a post about a historical landmark near Tarhouna.  Later on in the month I posted about a childhood remembrance. There was Libyan Revolution Day to get happy about, and fun times with my son Ibrahim. We waited for Nora's exam results to come out while we devised plans to scare off marriage proposals.

An anniversary this month - 24 years in Libya which is nearly half my life! I enjoyed springtime in my garden and tried (in vain) to buy the most exquisite lamp I had yet to see in Libya.

A big milestone for my daughter Sara - braces! After some dust storms that were so bad they closed down the airport I spent time cleaning up in my garden.

We went hiking in the mountains on a dusty day, but still had a good time anyway. There was some drama with my in-laws that turned out not to be very dramatic after all (thank God!). And I requested some ideas to get me through writers block.

We had some foggy mornings and my husband built some bird-feeders for the garden. I wrote a small poem called 'The Libyan Waiting Room' and started my annual stocking up for Ramadan. We had a morning picnic at the seaside  with a good friend. I wrote a 5 minute adventure story and reported on life's annoyances in Libya (drones and houseflies).

Ramadan preparations are well underway at the beginning of the month. The Minister of Electricity announced that there would be no power cuts during Ramadan - he didn't mention which year though because we had power cuts nearly every day. It was hot, usually over 40C and we suffered our way through the month. There were assassinations of activists in Benghazi and  unrest in the country and even close by -  right down our dirt road.

The Heath Minister announced that "Libyan hospitals were not fit for human beings" and said a contract was awarded to a British company to try to remedy the situation. I posted a list of things I had written in the past about my hospital experiences in Libya. I had a guest post regarding the rights of foreign wives of Libyans (we hope there will be changes made soon). Ramadan ended, we had a quiet Eid and then it was time to get back on some sort of schedule.  The new school year was about to start and I reported on a project to build portable classrooms in Libya. It was time to plan my trip to Florida to visit my family there - I was counting the seconds till it was time to leave as the temperatures in Libya got higher and the power cuts got longer.

The power cuts in Libya continued (seems to be the theme this year) and to top that off the water supply to the capital was cut off, but I was on holiday -  far away in Florida. I had spent a few days in the UK on my way to the United States. Unfortunately I had the flu and so didn't really get to enjoy my visit to Cambridge as much as I'd have liked, but I was 'home' in Florida recovering.

This month was spent with family and friends. I didn't post much during this month because I was too busy. This is what I was up to: We spent time shopping, picnicking, attending music festivals in the park, and spending time with friends.  My mother had good news from her doctor and we decided to take a 5 day cruise to the western Caribbean visiting the Cayman Islands and Cozumel, Mexico. We had a fabulous time and hope to go again in 2014. Here are some pictures that I had planned to post, but never got around to:
Cambridge when it wasn't raining was really nice. 

I took this picture while taking a walk on the beach about 5 minutes from my mother's house. I'm going to have the picture printed and framed to put over my desk.
This was a big milestone for my mother. She has health problems that require her to use a walker, which is fine for the house, but make shopping difficult. She had refused to use the motorized cart  - but she finally gave in and we got her on one for the first time. She was all over the store!
Too many pictures of the cruise to post here... I will have to upload them someplace. 

Back to Libya. I spent time sorting through my house and getting rid of junk. Mid-month, Libyans demonstrated, demanding that the militias leave Tripoli - people were killed in the process and many were injured. The militias pulled back and Libya shut down for a general strike that lasted about 2 weeks.

I posted about  how the situation in Libya made posting anything difficult, how unfortunately, the new found freedoms in Libya don't necessarily include the freedom to publish your opinion. And lastly... a post about the gasoline crisis and having an empty tank.

I'm hoping that 2014 will be a wonderful year for all!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Libya's Running on Empty

Tripoli is suffering from a gas crisis this week... it seems ridiculous as Libya is an oil producing country. My tank was on empty yesterday, but my son managed to get me 20 litres of gas from someone who drove all the way to Khoms (a 2 hours drive away). I'm hoping that it will last me until the gas crises is over and I can fill up my tank again.

The gas indicator light was flashing....
Looking on the bright side... I have an excuse to do nothing and be nowhere... I'm going to relax and enjoy reading a book - the weather report says rain tomorrow. I see a nice warm blanket in my future.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Libya Hurra! ... Libya Free!

It’s almost the end of the year. Usually at this time of the year I look back at old posts and recap my year’s events. This year I haven’t posted very often. Not because there hasn't been anything to write about, but simply because nowadays writing about events happening around me might not be a very bright idea.

A great deal has been happening in Libya over the past year, and I've had quite a few interesting adventures here, but posting these days is risky, especially if you are expressing any kind of opinion because there is always someone who just might not agree with your views and take offence – and that doesn't necessarily mean they will just make a comment.  In this year alone, there have been reports in Libya of journalists being kidnapped, shot at, and even killed. The head of one of Tripoli’s local radio stations was found shot to death recently. You don’t even have to be part of the media to be a target.  This past week an American teacher was shot and killed in Benghazi – reason and assailants unknown. 

During the Gadaffi era there was a fairly tight muzzle on the media, but I was still able to pretty much express my views about things (although sometimes I had to do it in a rather vague manner).  Right after the liberation, Libya witnessed an outpouring of all kinds of stories and reports in newspapers, on television and on the Internet.  Everyone was thrilled with their newly found freedom to say whatever they wanted and to be able to express themselves in ways they never thought possible. Numerous new television and radio stations opened up and there was also an increase in the number of newspapers in the country.

Despite all this new-found freedom, I've noticed that over the last year or so, that the Libyan blogosphere has slowed to a crawl. Few Libyan bloggers have been posting in the last year, possibly because they’re expressing themselves more on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.  But I wonder if the reason for the absence of blog posts, even for those bloggers who post anonymously, is because they just don’t feel safe to write anymore. 
My posts this year have been mostly about the weather, my garden and complaints about the continued power outages. I've got lots of opinions about what’s happening around me but I’m keeping my thoughts to myself. Also, I've had some interesting adventures during the past year that I’m keeping to myself too.  

I hope the situation will change... soon, I hope… (Insert sitting duck image here).

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