Sunday, October 12, 2014

You can do whatever you want in Libya

I stopped at the gas station this morning after I dropped the kids off at school. There were only 4 cars in front of me. The long lines that we've experienced at the pumps for the past few months are gone. 

There was a woman in the car in front of mine. She pulled up to the pump and pushed two empty containers out the window at the pump attendant. He put the first one on the ground next to the pump and casually began to fill it. The gasoline quickly reached the top and spilled out over the sides of the bottle. As he was putting the cap on the bottle I realized he was also holding a lit cigarette in his hand! He put the filled bottle in the back seat of the woman's car and proceeded to fill the second one, only stopping to take a drag off his cigarette. 

'Excuse me,' I called out from the car window, 'Would you please put out your cigarette? It's very dangerous and you are putting our safety at risk.' He stood there for a minute and looked at me, then he continued smoking and told me 'Ya Momma, mind your own business. I can do whatever I want.'

Sadly, this attitude is very common in Libya these days.... sigh...

Friday, October 10, 2014

Positive Things Do Happen in Libya

Recently I installed a time-lapse camera on my mobile phone and I have been fiddling around with it, mostly taking videos of the traffic. There is something about the flickering images that intrigues me for some reason. Today I came across a website that had time-lapse satellite imagery of different places around the world. It gave me the idea to look at the progress being made on the cleanup of a military camp in Ainzara where ordinance had been stored and to create a time-lapse video of the site.

This site is located in an area called Khamsa Shwara by the locals and is next to a residential area quite close to Tripoli University Campus B (Nasr). It's really quite alarming that so many bombs were being stored in such close proximity to the population. 

The picture below shows the amount of ordinance being stored there in July 2011.
Click on the image for a larger picture. 
NATO bombed the site in August 2011. I can honestly say that it was the most terrifying night of my life. I wrote about it in my journal which you can find here: August 2011 You can see the bomb craters that hit underground bunkers and also a large amount of unexploded missiles in the image below.

Click on the image for a larger picture.
After Tripoli was liberated I wrote a post about the site and added pictures of the damage from the bombs. You can see it here: Flashback - Unexploded Ordnance in Tripoli

After the revolution, work began to clean up the site. An independent aid organization, Handicap International, recruited and trained a team of Libyans and began diffusing and removing the missiles. They also launched educational programs to warn Libyans about the dangers of landmines, fire arms and unexploded ordnance. I posted about it here:  Making Libya a Safer Place 

Below is the latest satellite picture taken on August 8, 2014. You can really get an idea of how much progress has been made. I'm not sure why the picture is black and white.

Click on the image for a larger picture.
The images for this post and the time-lapse video I created were taken from Google Earth beginning in February 2002 and ending in August 2014. Clean up is still underway.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Gearing up for Eid

It's that time of year again... Eid al Adha is tomorrow. This week there was heavy traffic on the roads around Tripoli as people were out and about. In past years you would normally have to drive to the outskirts of the city to buy your sacrificial ram, but this year it seems like there are herds of sheep penned up on the sides of all the main roads. This has added to the traffic congestion as even those who are not stopping to buy a sheep are slowing down to have a look - window shopping from their cars! 

All the equipment needed for the sacrifice can be found piled up in front of shops; large plastic washtubs, cutting boards, cleavers and knives, ropes, enameled containers, huge stainless steel bowls, and of course grills and sacks of charcoal. Gasoline and cooking gas are available and the vegetable stands are well stocked (but nearly double the prices of last year). 

I'd have some pictures here, but I'm too busy trying to traverse the busy roads safely to take any. No one is paying too much attention to their driving as their eyes are on the goods for sale on the sides of the roads. 

Apart from all of the excitement of the Eid preparations, Tripoli has been fairly quiet (not sure if I can say that about Benghazi). Everyone I talk to says they hope that after the holiday is over that the peace will continue and life in Libya will improve. 

Wishing all who celebrate a safe and peaceful Eid al Adha. Eid mubarak!

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