Friday, May 09, 2014

Almost Summer in Libya

The kids are in the middle of final exams. They'll finish next week and then it's a whole exciting summer ahead. I've noticed for the past few years that final exams always seem to coincide with a crisis at the gas stations and this year is no different than the last.

One evening this week my husband tried to fill up, only to find eight of the nearest gas stations closed. Of course he wasted precious petrol driving around to look for an open station. My car was nearly on empty and I was doing what I could to preserve the petrol I had - I'd stopped using the ac and made sure to turn off the car if I had to wait for any length of time. Yesterday in the morning and afternoon there were long lines and I didn't have time to wait, but last night I found the lines were a bit shorter and pulled up to the back of the line. 

It was actually a double line and for the most part it seemed to be moving quite quickly. That is, until a bunch of young boys (about 20 of them) arrived with plastic bottles and containers. They had parked across the road from the station and descended upon the pumps in front of the cars waiting in line. Drivers started honking and people were shouting - no one wanted the boys to jump the queue. Finally, the gas station attendants decided to allow the boys to use one pump for filling up containers and the rest of the pumps were left free for vehicles. For the most part this seemed to work well and the lines continued to move.

By the time my car moved up to the pumps the boys with the containers were pushing and fighting one another to be the first to fill up. Suddenly, a guy brandishing a machete jumped out of nowhere and started shouting "insert really really really bad language here". The machete cut through the air making a whooshing noise the the boys scattered away in all directions. 

While the lunatic ranted and waved his machete about like some kind of magic wand, it was my turn to fill up. The attendant asked me how much I wanted (what a stupid question!), sarcastically I told him 'A dinar will be fine' and he looked at me questioningly. Then I said 'Fill it up, please!' While we waited for the tank to fill the guy with the machete continued his rant. I stuck my head out the window and yelled 'Watch your language please!' and my daughters who were in the car with me shouted 'Mom! Shut up! Get your head in the car! He might kill you!'

Now I have a full tank of gas, but we aren't going anywhere because there is another week of exams ahead of us. And then it will be officially summer!

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Plodding along...

I've been doing a bit of traveling for work lately. My travels aren't taking me very far away - just in the Maghreb, but it's been enlightening.

On a visit to our next door neighbour,Tunisia, I discovered that the capital has become rather messy with overgrown public gardens and trash strewn about everywhere. There were hardly any tourists to be found, but the people seemed optimistic. They haven't lost all hope.

It's hard to leave Libya and then come back again. Hard to go to nearby countries and not compare. There's a lot of work to be done....

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