March 2011

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

I've had a headache all day. I woke up with a headache and there it's stayed - right at the front of my head, just behind my forehead. My blood pressure is normal; I think it's just tension. I decided not to let it ruin my day.

It was a beautiful warm spring day! The blue sky had a few fluffy clouds and the sun was shining. 'What shall we have for dinner dear? We've got some chicken.' It was too nice a day to stay inside. 'How about making bourdeem?' my husband suggested. Bourdeem is meat that is cooked in an underground pit or oven. It's a special treat in Libya. The meat cooks in the heat of burning embers. The final result after a bit of hard work is meat so tender that it falls off the bone, permeated with a tasty, smoky flavour.

Helicopters flying over our farm
It was an enjoyable walk to collect firewood; through the wildflowers where butterflies and birds flitted about in the fresh spring air. It was another peaceful day in Libya. 

Friday, March 4th, 2011

I stayed in bed until eleven this morning. I didn't sleep well last night. Planes kept going over and waking me up. Each time I'd wake up I'd poke my husband and say 'There's another plane' and he'd answer with a snore. I think he was too tired to care and there was nothing he could do about it anyway.

My husband went to Friday prayers. When he returned he said most of the mosques had 'oil company' trucks without license plates parked in front. Some mosques had two or three of them. The 'oil company employees' didn't pray because it's forbidden to enter a mosque with weapons, so they had to sit outside in their trucks while everyone else prayed. It didn't seem to bother them one bit.

We made kabab for lunch and then relaxed; everyone watched TV while I read a book. Later in the afternoon Ibrahim and I went to the local supermarket to buy laundry soap, dishwashing liquid, and food for the birds and cats. There were only a few shops open. We got what we needed and quickly returned home.

Yusef, the Egyptian Coptic boy that ran the vegetable stand closest to my house, called to say he'd arrived safely in Egypt. I'm so happy he is safe. We've been worrying about him since he left. He is such a well-mannered boy, only a few years older than my oldest son. He always made sure that I got the freshest fruits and vegetables and even went out of his way to see that I got orange pumpkins last Halloween. He'd come from Egypt to find work so he could send money back to his family. He was pretty much alone here so we made sure to look after him when we could, made sure he was ok when he had the flu and when he had a tooth extracted. Last Christmas we bought him a warm wool sweater and a bottle of cologne and wrapped it nicely - he cried when I gave it to him. Such a sweet boy. Maybe he will come back one day, but I'm glad that he's safely back home in Egypt with his family.

The internet hasn't been working since yesterday. Well, it's on, but everything is blocked except for sites like LTT and Al-Madar (the telecommunication company and the mobile company). There's an email service that you get when you subscribe to LTT's internet - but that isn't working. There is no way to get in touch with my family. I hope they aren't worried. It's frustrating not to be able to chat with them. My mom had eye surgery this week... I hope she's ok.

I can just picture in my mind a clenched fist being pounded on a wooden table, 'They will NOT have Internet! Turn OFF their Internet!' more fist pounding 'No Internet! No internet!' pound, pound 'Punishment! Punishment!'  shaking fist in the air.

I'll have to post this when the internet comes back on. Whenever that is.

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Another day without internet. I called my son in America to check in and tell him we were all fine. I decided I would call him every day (for as long as I'm able) and talk to him for a few minutes so that my family would know we were ok.

The sun was shining; it was a beautiful spring day. I did laundry, made couscous and attended to other household chores. Then read a book, watched news,  and played solitaire. 

The kids wanted to know when it would be safe enough to go back to school. Good question.

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

We woke up early this morning to the sound of heavy gunfire in the distance. You could hear cars honking on the main road and bursts of fire from machine guns and occasional explosions. We went outside to listen and called different family members and friends around town. It wasn't fighting - just pro-government yahoos out trying to intimidate people. After a while the noise stopped. I went back to bed and slept for a few more hours.

Checked up on friends in the afternoon, doing a head count. We are all safe and well.

Monday, March 7th, 2011

It's an anniversary for me today: twenty-two years in Libya. On this day every year I usually take some time to contemplate the days and years since I arrived here. Now I only think about today - one day at a time.

It's another fine spring day. More laundry, more TV news, more of the same. We all feel frustrated. The headmaster of Ibrahim's school called to ask that we send him to school. My husband said 'Sure. We'll bring him tomorrow' and then hung up the phone. Of course Ibrahim won't go to school tomorrow. Who would send their children to school when live bullets are flying through the air? Everyone I speak to says they have given up on the idea of school now. Almost everyone is homeschooling - very few children and teachers are going to school now.

Helicopters peeking through our trees

Helicopters still fly low over my house. The dogs bark and growl. Rita was pregnant but has miscarried her puppies. She's been so vigilant and protective. The helicopters flying so low really bother her. Long after the helicopters have gone she continues to pace the perimeter of our house, barking and growling. It's hard to settle her down. We all find it unsettling.

I'm still unable to access the internet. It pops on from time to time for a second or two - I know this because my weather widget updates and has a time and date stamp. But it's never on long enough to check my email or post anything.

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Much the same regarding the internet. Cook, laundry, read, watch TV news, take a walk, low-flying helicopters overhead, planes, gunshots, restless sleep.

We got cheated out of a midnight speech. Decided to go to bed and see what the news said in the morning.

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Woke up to gunshots but my husband took Sara and Jenna to school to find out about exams anyway. They came back rather disenchanted and made the decision to quit this year and repeat the school year next year .... insha'allah..... or maybe they'd just do the final exams...  sigh....

Cooked a wonderful chicken and rice lunch. Did laundry, finished reading a book, watched TV news. Saw bits of the speech we missed from last night (still spouting off about drug crazed adolescents). Later in the day we watched an oil depot go up in smoke on the other side of the country. None of the boys on the TV news in Raslanuf looked drugged. What kind of drugs are they on that make them look like normal human beings who want nothing more than freedom and a better country to live in?

Thursday and Friday, March 9th and 10th, 2011

Life is pretty much the same: cook, clean, read, watch TV news.. Japan's earthquake and tsunami adding to the depression.

I spoke to my mother on the phone in the evening. She wondered what would happen if they decided to shut off the phone service. We will be completely cut off then.

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

It was an exciting day for a change. The girls and I went out in the morning to get haircuts. After that we took a friend for a drive around and stopped at some shops. We really didn’t need to buy anything; it was mostly just to see what was available. It was the first time Nora had been out in three weeks. She kept pointing out the amount of trash that had piled up alongside the roads, paper and plastic bags were flying in the air.

We noticed quite a few shops where being emptied of their goods. We weren't sure if they were closing up for good, moving or just closing temporarily. There were long lines in front of every bakery. The bread is being rationed so all the boys in each family stand in line to get as many loaves as possible for their families. Most shops were closed. I went into a supermarket in the city and found many of the shelves empty. The shops further out of the city have more on the shelves. Armed security were near many mosques - not directly in front but located were they would have a good view of the entrances.

In the evening we watched the news as the Arab League gave their go-ahead for a no fly zone. Would everyone else give it the green light? How much longer would it be till it was actually in place? Would it be put in place? Should we pack up our important documents in a bag along with the bare necessities and flee? Or should we stay and hope for a swift end to this madness?

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

We watch the news to see what is happening. The girls think it's time to go. 'The school year has been ruined. We'll have to repeat it again next year' the girls say 'Let's go to visit grandma and have a long holiday. If it's better here we can come back after Ramadan.' they plead. After Ramadan... in September... six months from now. February 17th seems so long ago.

Monday, March 14th, 2011

We all got up early today and watched TV for a while. Then when it was nearly noon Nora and I went out shopping with a friend. We'd gone shopping just two days ago and we compared the differences in just those two days.  The shops are becoming emptier. I stood at the entrance to one supermarket and just looked at the picked-over shelves. The freezers and refrigerators had been switched off - there wasn't much left in the cases and what was left was lukewarm. Plenty of breakfast cereal but hardly any milk remained. The spice section was completely empty, the glass door smashed, glass shards littered the floor. No one seemed interested in cleaning up the broken glass, just stepping around it. The bakery section was dark and had some unused freezers blocking the entrance. Everything was coated in a layer of dust. The only products that were abundant were things that were made in Libya - no one wanted them because no one trusted the quality or hygiene of the products. Everyone in the shop looked depressed. Less than a month ago the supermarket was a prosperous business teaming with customers. I estimated that the store would be closed in less than a week.

We noticed fewer lines out in front of the bakeries along the streets. Many of the bakeries have closed - there isn't much bread to be found. I almost began crying. What will happen to Libya? We're cut off, no goods are arriving to restock the empty shelves. Will we go back to the 1990s style of having neighbourhood government run 'Jamiyah' shops that rationed basic goods like cooking oil, flour, tomato paste, rice, dried beans, etc.? 
Remembering those days made me shudder. The goods were always of the poorest quality; rice and flour full of weevils. Hours were spent each week sifting out small sticks, rocks and insects before you could even begin cooking. Poor Libyan people were left eating substandard food while corrupt government buyers were making deals and getting rich. Would Libya return to that?

We continued our drive around town and noticed people setting up demonstrations in front of schools. The schools are still open but hardly any of the teachers or students are showing up. The students that arrived were handed green flags and made to demonstrate on the street in front of their schools. I drove carefully around the young people in the street. It was so sad to see elementary school children being forced out on the streets to wave flags and shout out political slogans when they should have been sitting safely in their classrooms. The poor children looked like nervous targets. What impact will all these experiences have on their future?

When we started out today we drove past some trucks that were selling eggs, thirty eggs on each tray. Big cardboard signs with 2.50 dinars written in large letters. On our way home a few hours later the signs had been changed to 3 dinars. In the evening I mentioned this to my husband and he said he saw 3.50 dinars when he drove by later.

My husband is in a bad mood. He's gloomy and depressed and doesn't have a nice thing to say about anyone or anything. We're all keeping out of his way. I'm sorry things here are going so badly ... but there is nothing I can do about it. I'm doing my best to keep the household running smoothly. I feel badly too - but I'm not going to get ugly to the ones I love. I hope he's in a better frame of mind tomorrow. This is so frustrating for all of us. It would probably help if we could get a good night's sleep.

I started reading the book 'the Lotus Eaters' by Tatjana Soli. It's a fictional story about a female war correspondent/photographer in Vietnam during the fall of Saigon. Probably not the best choice for a book to read during these days.

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

We woke up this morning to the smell of smoke. The neighbours were burning their trash. I wish they wouldn't do that. The air was still, no breeze to blow the smoke away so it hung in the air. We always bag up our rubbish, put it in the car and drop it off at the nearest dumpster. Yes, it's a hassle but it's certainly better than breathing in possible poisons in the smoky air. So this morning there was no going for a walk, no doing laundry, no fresh air. Damn the neighbours!

Watching the news today .... Why are they dragging their feet about Libya? I feel like I am holding my breath, or that time here is frozen somehow. It's like when you have a bad dream - someone or something is chasing you and you can't move quickly enough to reach safety. Slow motion. Except here we aren't running, we're just waiting and the only thing going fast is my pounding heartbeat.

The field on our farm in springtime - full of wildflowers.

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

I dug through some of my books this afternoon. I was hunting for a book I haven't needed since the 1990s. After a bit of a search I found the dog-eared book I was looking for: The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book, A guide to Whole-Grain Breadmaking by Laurel Robertson with Carol Flinders & Bronwen Godfrey.

In the lean years of the nineties I think I tried out nearly every recipe in the book. Unfortunately, I have never been able to find rye flour in Libya and nothing I tried as a substitute worked. But this book has a huge assortment of different recipes for all kinds of bread and everything you ever wanted to know about baking bread - fabulous!

On the menu this week:

Mediterranean Garbanzo Bread
Lemony-Fennelly Bread
Roberta's Incredible Bagels
and Corn Crackers

'Best way to go to a genocide is on a full stomach' ... a quote from the Lotus Eaters.

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

I visited my mother-in-law in the morning. I hadn't been to see her since before the uprising. I wanted to see if she wanted to come home with me - change her atmosphere, go for a walk, see the wild flowers and breathe some fresh air. But she said she was fasting and just wanted to stay at home.

We sat on her bed in her bedroom and she filled me in on all the family's news. She said my sister-in-law's nephew, a teen-aged boy who was working in a small shop, had been picked up by pro-government thugs. They dragged him out of the shop, stuck a hood over his head and tied him up, they beat him and stabbed him in the leg with a knife. He was subjected to mock executions and finally when they were tired of playing their sick games with him they threw him on the side of the road. An old man discovered him, removed the blindfold and untied him - thank God he managed to get home alive. My other sister-in-law's sister, who lives near the city center, had her home invaded by men with machine-guns who forced her entire family (including small children) out in the street to march in the Green Square - it was demonstrate or die... so they had no choice but to comply.

It's been one month since the beginning of the uprising - and according to my calendar it was also St. Patrick's Day. I invited a friend over for an afternoon walk to hunt down 4-leaf clovers and to enjoy some fresh air and share an early dinner with my family in our garden. For as much as we tried to change our mood, our conversation kept returning to the events in Libya and in the city surrounding us. 'What have you seen? What have you heard?'. I made certain that my friend left early enough to reach home well before sunset. I sent her off with a fist full of shamrocks we had found and an extra plate of chicken and rice.

Later on, in the evening, we all sat in front of the TV. We nervously waited for the UN to vote, fighting over whether we should watch the coverage in Arabic or English. After a bit of an argument I won - we watched in English. When the vote came out we were elated. I went out in the garden where I could hear sporadic bursts of gunfire in the distance and then went back inside to watch more of the news coverage. My husband had control of the remote and he kept switching channels but mostly we watched the crowds of people in Benghazi. We wished we could celebrate in Tripoli like they were celebrating in Benghazi but that would just be a sure death sentence.

A little while later we took a walk out on the farm. In the dark, under the stars, we wondered: 'How much longer would it be till there was peace?' and 'When would the no-fly zone be implemented?' We stood in the middle of our far field and slowly pivoted in a circle, scanning the horizon in the direction of the Green Square, the coast, Matiega Airport and the many army bases that dotted the areas around Tripoli. We daren't make a sound because we didn't know which side our neighbours supported. Finally, at nearly 3am, we went inside and climbed in bed. Nervous exhaustion, sleep overtaking us.

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Quiet. Everything was quiet in the morning. It seemed as though the whole city was waiting. I watched the news while I drank my morning cup of coffee and then decided to keep busy with spring cleaning - the TV remained on in the background so we could watch every news update. We scoffed at the announcement of a ceasefire.

Liars! Don't trust them!

How much longer till they enforce the no-fly zone? What are they waiting for?!?!

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Proof that the ceasefire was a sham was on all the news channels. How much longer would the world just stand by and watch?

As we watched world leaders arriving in France and being welcomed by France's Sarkozy, Jenna remarked 'One day I'm going to be someone famous. I'll make important decisions.' and then she added 'If Libya's here and we're still alive'. From the time Jenna was very small she has always said she would be first a lawyer, and then a judge, and then a leader. Maybe one day her dream will come true.

That evening, on the Libyan channel they were showing people; mostly women, children and youths celebrating and demonstrating in Kadafy's compound in Bab El-Azizia. Many of them had Down's Syndrome or looked retarded - obviously they had brought them from the orphanage and home for the mentally challenged. Leading the fray was Aisha Kadafy. Maybe the people were from one of her 'charity organizations'. Surely the mentally retarded and those with Downs Syndrome are unaware of the risks to their own personal safety. How sick to turn these people into a human shield. Who would do such a thing?

The sun set, we watched TV, flipping the channels every few minutes, waiting, watching, restless..... finally....


It sounded as though someone slammed the front door to the house as hard as they could - the whole house shook, the windows rattled. We ran outside and saw a plume of smoke in the distance. Missiles had hit an air defense target near Bir Stamilad. We watched the sky for a while longer but when nothing else happened we came inside to see what was being reported on TV. We knew it was only the beginning but we already felt a sense of relief.

We all went to bed but were woken after 2am by the sounds of explosions and gunfire. We went outside and could see anti-aircraft guns shooting from different areas around Tripoli - some from next to the university. Their tracer bullets shooting upwards, lighting the sky like fireworks. After a few minutes the guns stopped. We went inside and watched the coverage from TV but the correspondents had little to say - I think we had a better vantage point than the news reporters who were stuck in the city under the watchful eyes of their minders.

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

Ring... ring...

Hubby: What do you want?

Me: Uuummm.... I want 2 medium fries.... a Big Mac with extra pickles... 2 Kalashnikovs... and a Happy Meal (said with my best southern drawl).

Hubby: Ha ha ha.... click (hangs up)

Kadafy says he's handing out guns. How nice! Libyans are finally being given the right to bear arms. Just show them your ID card (so they can call you to fight later) and you get a gun and 70 bullets. After all this time Kadafy is learning something from the Americans. Yeee Hah!!  lolol! I must be feeling better - my weird sense of humor is returning (We didn't line up for a gun).

Afternoon... you can hear the voices of children playing, floating through the air from every direction. Anyone who has a piece of land or a farm in the rural areas surrounding Tripoli has left the city for the safety of the countryside. It's turned into a big family picnic.

Evening.... as night falls the sound of anti-aircraft guns begins and showers the sky with points of light. We can hear explosions from time to time but they are too far away to know exactly where they are coming from. The whole neighbourhood is outside under the clear dark sky and stars, watching and listening. Excited children's voices carry in the night air and mothers call out to their children to stay close by. The news is reporting what we witnessed outside. From time to time we hear more explosions in the distance and see tracer fire arc across the night sky.

The Libyan military announced another ceasefire tonight.... what a joke... a sick joke.

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Day 3 of the no-fly zone. Last night they hit Bab Aziziyah but didn't annihilate it. Maybe tonight?

Did some spring cleaning today - it was quiet all day. It's Mother's Day in Libya - we didn't do anything special to celebrate. Ibrahim and I played computer games, I read a book and we watched TV.

After dark we went outside to watch the anti-aircraft guns shoot tracer bullets into the sky. From time to time we heard explosions. In between the bombs and gunfire we used the Google Sky app on my phone to track the stars, planets and constellations. Pretty cool!

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Libya is starting to slip from the headlines of the news. Japan too is moving out of the top news focus. Yemen, Syria and the upcoming royal wedding are moving into the top spots. We feel like we are getting less and less news. The TV news coverage about Tripoli has been limited from the beginning because the journalists' movements are completely controlled by the regime. It's so frustrating. Without internet we've been pretty much relying on TV news and word of mouth to find out what's happening. There are lots of rumours - it's hard to tell what is really going on.

The Libyan television channels are ridiculous. Last night after I'd gone to bed Nora came in and said 'Mom! Mom! Remember that girl that was in the elementary English class a few summers ago? The one with the drawn on eyebrows? Come see... she's on TV.' Sure enough, there she was; same over made-up face with the eye brows drawn on. She was moderating a call-in show. ... sigh.. poor thing.  They have people 'calling in' to the studio... but there is no phone number listed to call in. Probably the 'callers' are sitting in the next room.

We flip over to the Libyan channels to have a look from time to time. This morning they had 'Bab El-Aziziyah - Now' on. The film showed people waving their green scarves and pictures of Kadafy... the sky was dark and was filmed at night, but it was noon - so it couldn't have been 'Now'.

I've come to focus on my own little microcosm - my family and friends, our house and farm. Every day we call around to check on each other. We all worry about the availability of food and medicine. Little tid-bits of information are passed along:

  • Do you think we'll be able to buy bread today? I heard the flour supplies are nearly depleted.
  • I heard potatoes are half a dinar a kilo.
  • Someone said they found fresh yogurt in town.
  • The pharmacies are unable to restock. Medicines for chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes are running low.
  • Make sure your car's gas tank is kept full.
  • A friend of a friend said they were turned away from the maternity hospital because there were no doctors on duty.
  • Have you been able to buy cooking gas? Someone told me it cost 30 dinars just to refill a cylinder.
  • Have you got a good recipe for barley bread?


This morning Yusef saw a small dog along the side of the road near our house. He said it looked like a small fluffy Maltese or shitzu type dog. He tried to catch it but it was frightened and ran away. When the ex-pat workers evacuated the country they had to leave their pets behind. Now there are reports that many of the animals are roaming the streets trying to fend for themselves. I can't imagine what it would feel like to have to abandon our pets - they're part of our family.

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

BOOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOOOM! At about five in the morning we were thrown out of bed by HUGE explosions. As I jumped out of bed I heard one of our cats call out a frightened meow as she climbed out of my wardrobe where she'd been hiding, eyes the size of saucers and hair standing on end. 'Uh Oh!' I said aloud. She was heavily pregnant and we expected her to have her kittens at any moment. I tried to soothe her: 'It's ok Dawn. We're alright.' as I quickly put on my slippers and ran outside with my husband and kids to see what was happening.

Missiles had hit military installations not too far away from us. They must have done a good job hitting their targets because two of the camps were no longer firing anti-aircraft guns and a third camp was down to only one gun that was firing only intermittently. Plumes of smoke were rising in the sky above the targets.

As the smoke started to clear I went back inside the house to check on the cat. Sure enough, she had given birth to her first kitten on top of some of my sweaters that were stacked on the bottom shelf of my wardrobe, and more kittens were on their way. Nora made up a basket for Dawn in her bedroom and moved her there. I piled the soiled clothing from my wardrobe into a laundry basket and took them out to the laundry room. It was time to put away my winter clothes anyway, so I started in on clearing out my wardrobe. 

What a coincidence that the mother cat is named Dawn. She had three lovely little kittens - one of them will definitely be named Odyssey and another Homer. We're not sure about the third one yet but I think that the kids want to name it Layla after Dawn's mother.

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

More bombing raids in the middle of the night. My husband didn't get out of bed, he was so exhausted from having disrupted sleep for the past five nights that the loud explosions didn't wake him up. I threw on a light-weight jacket over my nightgown and went to see what was happening outside.

The kids had scrambled up to the top of our water tower like monkeys and were watching the bombardment from the vantage point three stories up. I slipped out the gate onto the farm and walked to the field where I could see the horizon in every direction. The dog kept growling and pushing me back toward the house but I ignored him, pushing him away until he grabbed my hand with his teeth and gently pulled me back, growling and insistent.

Back in the garden, Yusef called out excitedly 'Mom! They've been hit with over twenty missiles over the past two days! They're on fire over there! Lots of smoke!' When the air began to settle I went back inside.

The bedroom was dark and my husband was still snoring, he hadn't woken up. Someone was on my side of the bed. 'Who's in my bed?' I asked. 'It's me, Ibrahim.' 'Are you scared?' I asked. 'Yes mom. Would it bother you if I stay here?' he asked. 'Sigh... well, as long as you don't get so scared you pee yourself' I replied, as I climbed in next to him and hugged him close.

There were more missile strikes later in the night but we just stayed in bed under the blankets and held each other tightly until morning.


Sara and I drove to the supermarket to see what was available and to hopefully get some cheese and an assortment of fresh vegetables. Supplies are dwindling of most things in the supermarkets and prices are rising. On the other hand, locally grown fruits and vegetables are plentiful and reasonably priced. We don't need meat yet so I haven't checked to see if that's gone up in price but there was plenty hanging in the butcher shop windows. Long, long lines of people waiting for bread.

One thing that we noticed was that there were fewer taxis and buses on the roads and we saw only one car flying green flags going by. I had heard that it was becoming difficult to get gasoline so we drove by the gas station to see for ourselves. It was true - there was a line of cars more than half a kilometre long snaking down the road from the pumps. How much longer would gasoline last? Libya's electricity is powered by oil... How much longer till we faced power outages?  Libya's fragile infrastructure is winding down to a complete halt.

Funny things are happening on Libyan state run television. Today they keep referring to the people of Benghazi as 'our brothers' and pushing the idea that 'we are all one country'. Just yesterday they were calling people from Benghazi and east Libya dogs, rats and traitors. Are they coming to the realization that they are losing and trying to smooth the way for a transition? They showed a busload of people going to Benghazi to be with their 'brothers' - no pictures of Kadafy were on the bus, instead they had pictures of Omar Mukhtar. Why do I get the feeling that they are wolves in sheep's clothing? Were these buses really headed for Benghazi? Or was this just another publicity stunt? 

The news services are showing a mass funeral of civilians said to have died during the bombings. In all my years in Libya, I have never seen fresh flowers on newly made caskets at a funeral. Muslims in Libya are removed from the casket before burial, wrapped only in a shroud, they are lowered to their simple graves. The caskets are usually very basic and are taken back to the mortuary to be reused, over and over again. The funeral shown on the news seemed so staged and unreal. Not surprisingly the news reporters could not find anyone at the funeral who was related to, or even acquainted with the people being buried, and BBC reported that some of the caskets were opened only to find they were empty (and then hastily taken away). Who were they burying? Where were their families and friends?

Friday, March 25th, 2011

A quiet Friday. I didn't feel like speaking to anyone. In the afternoon I locked myself in my bedroom and had a long uninterrupted nap. No one could come in to wake me up to ask stupid questions, no kids stood next to my bed to have an argument, or cry, or complain. Wonderful! This evening I'm going to read a book and watch a film on my phone, wearing headphones so that I will be blissfully unaware of anything going on around me. I'm having a vacation today... I deserve it.

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Either last night was quiet or I was so tired I slept through any explosions. I woke up feeling rested. In the afternoon I could hear planes flying over but couldn't see them. I decided not to watch the news until the evening. I needed a news-free day for a change. 

Some upsetting news today: Jenna's best friend's ten-year old brother was picked up by pro-Kadafy thugs. They gave him a savage beating and showed him a hole in the ground that was filled with blood and told him if he didn't tell them who was painting graffiti on the walls in the neighbourhood they would put him in the hole. He told them it was big boys that he didn't know and after torturing him a while longer they let him go.

The boy will physically recover from the beating but what will the long-term effects be? How many other children are being brutalized? We are hearing stories about people being terrorized, beaten, held and interrogated for hours, and some that have just outright disappeared. People live in fear and intimidation (or is it fear of intimidation). Even me! I don't go out unaccompanied, I stay only in my area and I only go out if it's necessary. If I go out it is usually between the hours of noon and 3pm - never too early when there are too few people about, and never, ever, after dark. When I'm in public I speak only when necessary and never make eye contact with anyone. We don't allow our children to go to school for fear they will be picked up and carted off someplace on a forced demonstration (or possibly used as human shields) and we don't let the boys go anywhere alone. Mostly, we stay on our farm, in our own little world.  

Today Jenna and I went out for a drive into town to do a bit of shopping, picking up some things we needed - a necessary trip or we wouldn't have left home. Cooking oil was on our list and it is in very short supply. We managed to find some for 4 dinars a litre (it has more than doubled in price). Long, long lines in front of bakeries - getting bread has become a full time job. There were huge traffic jams near every gas station as cars lined up to fill up. I've still got plenty in my tank but we didn't do any extra driving - we got what was on our list and headed straight home.

Dinner... stuffed peppers, stuffed cabbage rolls, rice pilaf, tomato/cucumber salad and fresh fruit for dessert. One thing that has come out of all this is having more time to spend preparing meals for my family.

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Bright and sunny today. I get up each morning, take a shower, get dressed, fix my hair, apply make-up as though I am going somewhere - but I stay home. I've had lots of free time since all this started. I miss my work, and the routine. But I've had time to catch up on things around the house, I've read and relaxed, watched films, sat in the sun, spent time with my kids, cooked, done spring cleaning, dejunked and reorganized, taken long leisurely walks and put my feet up. But mostly it seems I've been subjected to TV - lots and lots of TV.

Anyone that knows me knows that I rarely watch television. Before all this I can honestly say that I hadn't sat down to watch a television program in well over a year. I prefer to get my news from the internet; clicking on the news I'm interested in and reading a more in-depth report than what you can find on TV. Now I'm stuck with televised news and watching the clock to tune-in at the top of the hour. From time to time I walk by the TV room, stop, and read the revolving news ticker at the bottom of the screen to decide whether I need to be back for the hourly report. And then after watching the news I feel dissatisfied - it always seems to just touch on the topic. And the final insult is when the news presenter says:

"To find out more visit our website at www......."

Feet up watching the news about Libya.

Monday, March 28th, 2011

It was quiet this morning and afternoon. We kept up with the news headlines to see how far the rebel fighters could make it in a day. We heard a few planes overhead but that was it. We expect it to get much noisier as they get closer to Tripoli. Our guestroom is ready for friends of ours who live close to the city centre.

We had a big lunch of curry and rice and then took a nap. In the late afternoon some of the kid's cousins came over. The girls invaded the kitchen and made chocolate sugar cookies and caramel corn, then they all sat down to watch a DVD.

We've decided not to go out anywhere unless it's absolutely necessary. The wait at the gas pumps is between three and five hours. Who wants to sit half the day waiting in line to get gasoline? Not me.


A HUGE bombardment tonight of a military camp in the vicinity of Tekbali, beginning at about ten o'clock. We first heard the dogs barking and growling (our advanced warning system) and then less than a minute later the planes flew right overhead toward their targets. Boom! Boom! Boom! The orange glow of the explosions lit up half the sky and there continued to be smaller explosions long after the initial attack.

The weather was clear, warm and still - you could hear voices coming from all the neighouring farms. Everyone was out watching the show. Lots of cheering going on until an anti-aircraft gun started firing from what appeared to be a neighbouring farm. With the appearance of tracer bullets piercing the sky so close by, there were suddenly no voices to be heard and everyone continued to watch in silence. Every few minutes more planes would fly by, dropping their bombs. The horizon glowed with fire, and smoke continued to pour forth long after it was all over.

It felt strangely comforting and satisfying to have witnessed the attack, especially hearing the cheers of support, but it was disconcerting to learn that on a neighbouring farm is someone who feels compelled to support Kadafy to the point that they have installed an anti-aircraft gun on their farm. There is a sniper in our midst.

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

We heard planes flying over quite frequently today, bombings to the east of Tripoli about six o'clock. I'd been taking a nap and the blast woke me up - the windows rattled and the house shook. Yusef says that the wall in his bedroom has developed a crack in it after last night's raid. We watched the press conference in London and wondered if things would be stepping up pace around Tripoli. I told Yusef to watch the crack and see if it gets bigger.

I spoke to a friend who said her husband has been going to the bank every day for the past three days to withdraw money but comes home empty-handed as the teller says they have no cash. Another friend told me yesterday that government employees haven't been paid. How much longer will this last?

This evening Ibrahim and I took turns beating up the punching ball out in the garden. Our boxing gloves are getting really worn out, time to buy a new pair. It's such a good way to relieve stress and get fit. I'm getting pretty good at it too.

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

For every two minutes of news there's twenty minutes of speculation. I've turned off the TV and turned my focus to other things that I actually have control over like laundry and lunch.

It was a cloudy and drizzly day. I finished a book and haven't decided what I will read next. Maybe I should watch a movie instead... ho hum...

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

As soon as we went to bed last night the dogs started barking like mad and then, whooosh! BOOM! - the sound of a plane followed by an explosion. We ran outside in time to see another plane come in, dropping a second bomb on the military camp next to Nasr University. Then all went quiet. We waited a few minutes, standing in the wet garden before returning inside and going back to bed.

Today the phone rang constantly with the girl's friends calling to say that school exams will begin on the ninth of April. With the gasoline situation as it is now we won't be able to take the kids into town every day for exams unless we are able to fill-up our car's gas tanks. The exams will most likely be postponed again because the whole town is in the same situation.

It's a three to five hour wait at the pumps with many people lining up the night before and sleeping in their cars. My tank's at half full right now and my husband has a quarter of a tank. There is no way I can wait in line - I couldn't sit that long without using a bathroom and there aren't any women in the lines anyway - this is a guy job.

It rained off and on all day. My shoulder is sore from too much boxing yesterday so I've not done much around the house, just rested, watched a movie and watched the news. Defecting... wheeling... dealing ... sigh...

It's the last day of March today... Libyans call the month of March 'Mars patzo' Italian for 'crazy March' because the weather is unpredictable. It's really been a crazy month this year, for more reasons than the weather.

For a list of news articles, images and videos of events in Tripoli during the months of February, March and April:  Libya Uprising Archive - Tripoli - February - April 2011


  1. Asalom Alai kom sister

    Thank you..... I have been trying to deal with the psychological effects of twhat happened. To know that I am not alone is a help. That it was not a dream....that it happened.....

  2. I'm so sorry I have only found your blog, and had no idea of the reality of Libya at this time. Thank you so much for publishing this.


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