Friday, July 18, 2014

Nalut, Voted One of the Most Beautiful Places for Mountain Bikers

First my news... 

On Thursday morning my husband said to me "Don't even think about going out today. There's trouble expected and you don't need to get caught up in the middle of it." So I've been hanging out at home for the last two days. Actually Tripoli seems a lot quieter these past two days than it has been lately - for a few days the house was vibrating, windows shaking and doors rattling with what seemed like non-stop explosions of heavy weaponry in the distance - even though it was about 20 kilometers away it was still frightening. Now it is quiet and has that eerie 'before the storm' kind of feeling. Maybe, hopefully, it will all blow over and we can go back to our 'normal' lives here. It's amazing what you start to consider as normal!

Miraculously the internet has been working for the last few days. So of course time has been spent checking all the social networking sites to see what, if anything, is happening in Tripoli. There's been a big focus on whether or not there are flights in and out of the country since Tripoli's main airport is closed as that's where the main clashes have been taking place. Pictures of damaged planes and the airport itself have been posted. and flights are being diverted elsewhere or cancelled. One minute there's an announcement that Libyan airspace is closed to all traffic and minutes later someone is posting that a flight has just landed or taken off at Matiega Airbase in Tripoli or Labrak Airport in the east of the country. People are stranded outside Libya hoping to get back and others are wondering if they can leave.

It's depressing. Libyans killing each other is bad enough, but doing in in Ramadan... sigh.... needless destruction of the infrastructure, damaging homes and hospitals and disrupting lives... sigh...

When will there be peace? When will Libya get back on it's feet again? When will things improve?

And now for the good news....

Way back in 2007, it seems so long ago, I went with my family and my friend Tara to Nalut for their annual Spring Festival. Tara is an avid mountain biker so she brought her bike along. Nalut proved to be a fantastic place to ride. Honestly, Nalut is just fantastic period. The people are hospitable, the air is fresh, the scenery and it's history are marvelous - I can't say enough nice things about Nalut.

While we were there I took some pictures and posted them on my blog here: Nalut Spring Festival - 2007 and here: Mountain Bike Heaven in Libya! and ever since the site statistics show that they are two of the most visited posts on my blog. This week I got an email from action sports website Mpora to let me know that Nalut has been chosen as one of the most beautiful mountain bike trails in the world. They've used the picture I posted of Tara and her mountain bike overlooking the escarpment.

They are right! It is beautiful!

Libya is a land of treasures... I'm praying for peace and a bright future for Libya.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Almost to the halfway mark

We're getting through the second week of Ramadan. Here's our news:
  • Ibrahim is bored and that means he's picking on everyone and causing trouble. How much longer until school starts again? 
  • Nora's been working from home because her employer says the security situation is too unstable at the moment for employees to go to the office.
  • Yusef's miserable because he's craving cigarettes which in turn is making everyone miserable. Ramadan and cigarettes don't go well together.
  • Jenna sleeps all day. The life of a teenager!
  • Sara's inventing new dishes and trying out recipes she's found on the internet or seen on TV- thank God there's one cook in the house. I used to be an enthusiastic cook, but when you are forced to feed 7 or 8 people everyday cooking becomes more of a chore than a pleasant pastime. 
  • Hubby's grumpy and depressed - he's been watching too many Libyan news channels.
  • Me, I'm fine. We're into the second week of Ramadan and I'm up early in the mornings and keeping myself busy working on some projects. 
  • The garden is looking good. We still need to have grass put in the side garden in the spot that we were saving for the swimming pool, but I think it will have to wait until after Ramadan. We've decided against the swimming pool - too much headache with all the sand here. We have an above ground pool that we put up in the summer next to the terrace and take down in the fall - that's working out fine.
  • The electricity - it's off about 4 hours every day lately which is not so nice when the weather is over 40C.
  • Internet - slow as usual and off when the electricity is off. 
  • Mobile phone service - spotty... I suppose this is due to the power cuts.
  • Gas - there are still lines at the gas stations and the lines seem to be getting longer as there are rumors that the gas supplies aren't going out because the drivers of the supply tankers are being kidnapped - more than likely just a rumor, but that's all it takes for the lines to start forming. I'm topping up whenever I get a chance. 
  • Banks - I see crowds of people in front of the banks in the mornings as I pass by. Not a good sign... 
I'm my last post I mentioned that we had two new pets, but then only wrote about one of them. The other one is a spiny-tailed lizard that we named Spike. Spiny-tailed lizards come from north Africa and are kept as pets all around the world. They're vegetarian so no need to worry about providing insects for them. Spike likes vegetables and weeds I pull up from the garden and a bit of cacti. The kids put him out on the small balcony next to  my desk. Our house is starting to feel like a zoo. My kids came home a few weeks ago saying they wanted a monkey that they'd seen somewhere.  No! I draw the line at monkeys... but I wouldn't mind a parrot. 

Ibrahim with Spike

Saturday, July 05, 2014

My news and two links about Libya

I haven't been able to update my blog for a while because my chair has been hijacked! Sandy has taken over my spot in front of the computer. Today I had to push her off the chair so I could sit down and she immediately jumped up on the desk and stood up on top of the keyboard.

I'm taking things easy this Ramadan. I've cut way back on my work hours , and I'm mostly chilling out at home - chilling out! It's been pretty hot these days, one day last week it was 45C (113F), but as long as there is electricity there is air conditioning and when the power goes out I lay down and read a book and take a nap.

Sadly, we still have an electricity situation here... last week I read in the news that one area of Ainzara had no power for 44 hours. Thank God it wasn't my area! Also, there are still lines for petrol, they're a bit shorter but a line is a line - a waited almost 2 hours one day last week and about a half an hour a few days ago. My internet was out for five days last week and the mobile phone services are on and off. 

A positive note: I've noticed that there are teams of workers cleaning along the sides and medians of the main highway and they have street sweeper trucks cleaning the edges of the road. It slows down traffic a bit - but everyone is driving too fast to begin with. It's nice to see something positive happening. 

Two interesting links to share about Libya:

  • This is a pretty good analysis of the situation here lately - I'm not sure who is behind this website or how often they update the news about Libya: Libya: Surviving The Curse Of Entitlement  
  • Another sad, but interesting site that has recently been set up: Libya Body Count - The purpose of this site is to provide a reference point for the extent of violent crime and deaths in Libya, starting in January 2014 (three years after the 17 February 2011 uprising and civil war). The site relies on media reports as the source of data. Libya's media is in its infancy so in most cases only a single news source is used and in a few cases social media is also relied upon. No distinction is made regarding victims: all deaths are counted.
Enough of depressing news! We've got two new pets; a ginger cat that is about 6 weeks old that a girl had rescued but was unable to keep. We've named her Sally. She's very friendly and fit right in with our family from the moment she arrived. 

Taking a break from playing. She's sitting on a hand woven blanket that I brought back from a recent trip to Algeria.
 A few months ago I bought an ultra-violet flashlight from the hardware store to use for looking for scorpions. It's similar to this one: Scorpion Master We ended up buying a second one and have been going out scorpion hunting on our farm most evenings. The scorpions glow when you shine the torch on them - and there are hundreds of them out there! Eeek! We pick them up with a pair of barbecue tongs (long ones!) and put them in a big water bottle. Needless to say I no longer go out for walks with open shoes or flip flops. We check our garden nightly and seldom find any scorpions, maybe because we water the garden and pull weeds.  

It took about an hour to catch these. They are every where out there - watch where you step. 
 Another thing I am up to is trying out a program called Scrivener. It's a kind of word processing program used by writers... maybe I will write a book someday.

Three more weeks until the end of Ramadan. Where does the time fly? Happy Ramadan to all who celebrate! 

My Link List