May 2011

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Yusef knocked on our bedroom door at around three o'clock in the morning to tell us that the news was reporting that Kadafy's son and three grandchildren had died as a result of a NATO airstrike. We got up and watched the news for a bit - details were sketchy. Finally we went back to bed.

In the morning we watched the news. Many people thought it was all just more of Kadafy's onslaught of lies. We'll have to watch the news and see how it all plays out.

My husband went to work and came home to say that the United Nations building, The British Embassy, the American Embassy and the Italian Embassy had all been attacked and looted by Kadafy's gangs. Of course the first thing that the looters marched away with was booze. Next were computers, laptops, office equipment and anything and everything else. Reports say that the thugs took pleasure in trying to shoot up a car at the American embassy - as it was fully armored their bullets couldn't penetrate it but they had a great time trying. Such a waste. How sad to see such ignorance. What's next?

I took a walk today. The wildflowers that had filled the feilds of our farm last month have all dried up and gone to seed. The ground is crunchy underfoot. The loquats have all been picked and eaten, now we await summer's bounty: apricots, figs, almonds and peaches.

I sat down and counted my many blessings today.

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Today's news: Bin Laden's out of the picture. Good riddance. Who's next?

With Ben Laden taking centre stage in the news there were no reports on the international news channels about Libya. The Libyan television stations were carrying the funeral of Kadafy's son - but Moamar was nowhere to be seen. Everyone I know suspected that it was all a show, that Kadafy's son and grandchildren didn't die. The Libyans I spoke to wanted to know why priests from the church were blessing the supposed bodies on the TV reports 'Were Kadafy's son and grandchildren Christian?' they wanted to know. The bodies were kept covered and no one could say for sure who exactly was under the covers. Later the cemetery was full of shouting and chanting men and boys and some women. Everyone said it was just more of Kadafy's propaganda. In the evening they showed people in Bab-Al-Azzizia dancing to a live band - it was more like a celebration, not a funeral.

I've finished one book (The Mermaid Chair) and I'm starting another. Actually I've started three books and haven't decided which on I will settle on.

In the morning the weather was muggy and dusty, threatening to rain, but by afternoon the winds picked-up and shifted from the south - full force sandstorm. Miserable! Nothing to do but stay inside until the weather clears.

We heard lots of planes going over during the night, but we didn't hear any explosions.

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

The weather was hot and dusty early in the day but cooled off in the late morning. I took a drive to the nearest gas station to scope out the gas situation. There were long lines waiting but the station was closed except for people that needed diesel. I went home and decided to try again in the late afternoon. But when I checked around later there was no gasoline to be found... maybe tomorrow.

I spent time walking on the farm, collecting grasses to use in dried floral arrangements. Something to do, something to keep busy with. The apricots will be ready to pick in a few days. Something to look forward to.

After we went to bed we heard a huge explosion. Dressed in our pajamas, we went outside but we couldn't determine where it had come from (the next day we heard that it was in Fashloum). Back to bed, only to be bombed once again, and of course once again we jumped up and ran outside to see what was going on. After a few minutes we went back in the house, only to hear a third explosion. The news only reported the explosions but didn't say what the target was. Finally we went back to bed and stayed there. If there were any more explosions we must have slept through them.

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

NATO's planes were out early this morning. Usually we expect them around eleven o'clock, but today they were already buzzing us just after seven. We're all hoping that they step up the pressure. How much longer will this conflict last? If people in Tripoli take to the streets to demonstrate they will be mown down, massacred in cold blood. The embassies have closed up and gone. There will be no foreign observers to witness the event.

The gas situation:

My husband took my car to the gas station in the hours of early morning. At about two o'clock in the afternoon there were about 30 cars ahead of him so he called me to come with Yusef in his truck. The plan was that I would take over for him in my car near the front of the line and he'd get his truck in line at the end. This way I would spend minimal time at the gas station. I packed up his lunch and we drove to the gas station. When I got there we switched places. It was complete chaos. Yusef stayed in his father's truck while my husband stood at the side of the road near my car to make sure no one harassed me.

When there were six cars between me and the pumps they decided to allow only five dinars per car and they were stamping the car's registration booklet so that you couldn't get more gas for three days. The car in front of me pumped in 5 dinars and then the attendant zeroed out the pump and gave the same car another five dinars. I was livid. Tempers were flaring, there were guns being waved around, I got my five dinars worth and went home. I have half a tank of gas... that's better than no gas - and most important: I am safe.

I took a walk about half an hour before sunset. The air was cool and fresh, the grass dry and crunchy underfoot. The apricots will be ready to pick soon.

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Perfect weather today. We opened up all the windows and let the fresh air and sunshine in.
It was quiet today, less planes then usual and also less noise from traffic on the main road. People are only driving when they absolutely have to, and when they do drive they go slowly to conserve gas. It's very weird to see most people driving at or below the speed limit.

We heard an explosion in the evening but we didn't know where it was from. Other than that it was quiet.

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Another day of glorious weather. Only a few planes. We didn't hear any explosions. It was like a vacation.

We went to the grocery store to buy milk, cheese, eggs and toothpaste. As we drove along we noticed that the lines of cars waiting to get gasoline seemed a bit longer (is that possible?).

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

I dreamed about going back to work. I was met by one of my students as I was getting my bag and books out of my car. I felt so happy to be back, but my student looked so sad. He told me that Kadafy was still in power. I dropped the books back onto the seat of the car and turned around and looked at him and said 'I guess we're not starting today after all.' Then I got back in the car and drove away. It was as simple as that. Then I woke up.

We're all waiting. Waiting for the day that Kadafy and his family are gone. Waiting for the end, waiting for change, waiting to sort out what is left, and waiting to get back our lives. Everything is on hold now... while we wait.

Even if Kadafy miraculously disappeared today it would be months before life returned to some kind of normalcy. It's May. Then we'd have June and July before the month of Ramadan... and we all know that NOTHING happens in Libya in Ramadan.... sigh... I just want to get back to work. I hate not having a plan. I hate not knowing what's going to happen.... sigh..

We haven't reached the point of despair..... yet....
des•pair: the feeling of having lost all hope:
She uttered a cry of despair. 
A deep sense of despair overwhelmed him.
He gave up the struggle in despair.
One harsh word would send her into the depths of despair.
Eventually, driven to despair, he threw himself under a train.

Today is a kind of anniversary for me. I met my husband thirty-one years ago today. We got married two and a half years later. The day I married him I was suffering from temporary insanity.... it's had lasting consequences! hehehe!

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

We've had a few days break from NATO's planes but this morning they came back for their usual morning fly-over.

Perfect picnic weather today; in-laws are all here to pick apricots. Our dogs have spent the afternoon chasing all the little kids and scaring my sister-in-laws.

It's Mother's Day in America today. I spoke to my mom, my youngest sister and my son in America.

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Bright and sunny today. It's been quiet in and around Tripoli. The news says that NATO is concentrating on the areas of Misrata, Sirte and Zintan.

I spoke to a friend of mine who said she got in line at a gas station yesterday at six in the morning. After waiting for eight hours they ran out of gasoline so she abandoned her car in line and went home. She returned today at 6am and finally was able to get gasoline at two in the afternoon. Over the course of two days she waited in her car for 12 hours. She had to have her husband pick her up to take her home to use the bathroom and then return her to her car.  It's time for me to get in line for gasoline... I am dreading it.

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

We slept with the windows open last night but I was so tired that I didn't hear the air raids. I vaguely remember my husband shaking my shoulder to tell me there were explosions but I just rolled over and continued sleeping.

I had weird dreams... dreams about bats and owls - both supposedly signs of evil and death, if you believe in that kind of thing. I dreamt I was keeping them as pets and trying to figure out what to feed them. The bats were reclusive and kept to themselves, but the owls were happy to sit on my arm and take food from my hand. I woke up and wondered about the dream. Maybe I'm just worried about food supplies and also noticed that fruit bats have been helping themselves to apricots in our orchard. Our food stocks are still OK and we have plenty of apricots despite the bats, thank God. Or maybe it's from watching four Harry Potter movies in the last few weeks. Bats and owls.... weird.

In the morning I watched the news to see what I'd missed in the night. Apparently there were six explosions in different parts of Tripoli including Bab-Al-Azzizia. Also reports that the rebel's flag had been raised for a while at Matiga Airport. Planes flew over all morning. We all wonder what will happen next.

Grilled cheese sandwiches and salad for lunch, kabab for dinner and Scandinavian kringer with tea for dessert. No tomato paste today! Yeah!

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Explosions woke us in the middle of the night but we just drifted back to sleep. In the morning at about 8:30 we heard planes and two explosions. We don't usually get air raids at that time of the day. I'm not sure where the bombs hit. We are getting so used to the air raids that we don't run outside to look anymore. We just continue on with whatever we're doing.

Jenna and I went out in the morning to visit a friend and do a bit of grocery shopping. We came home and made stuffed peppers, rice pilaf and a mixed salad. Apricots for dessert.

In the evening I sat outside with my sister-in-law and enjoyed the fresh air.

Everyone I talked to today commented that they thought Kadafy might be dead since we haven't seen him on TV in a while. And everyone commented that they thought Saif al-Arab was still alive and the funeral was a fake. I'm not sure what to believe.

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

A friend of mine called me on Wednesday to say she needed to fill her car with gas and wanted to know if I needed gas too. She suggested we could both go at the same time the next morning. There would be safety in numbers and having someone to talk to would be a way to help pass the time. I said it sounded like a good plan. So we met each other along the way and got in line at six o'clock in the morning at a gas station that had been designated 'for women only'.

There were hundreds of cars in line ahead of us. But the line was moving pretty quickly and we were optimistic that it wouldn't take very long. After three hours (9:00am) the station had run out of gasoline and everything came to a complete standstill. A few of the ladies decided to give up and worked out how to maneuver their cars out of the line. For every car that left, the line moved up. We decided to stick it out and wait. Hopefully gasoline would be delivered to the station soon.

At eleven o'clock my friend's husband came to pick us up and take us to a bathroom. Then he brought us back to the line. We both got in my car, put a sheet up over the windows to block out the sun and spent time chatting and reading back issues of National Geographic.

At about 2 o'clock we decided to get out of the car and walk up the road to the gas station to see if we could get any information about when the next gas delivery would be. The man patiently told us that the deliveries were fairly regular and to expect something in the late afternoon or evening. We stretched our legs a bit by looking in some nearby shops. My husband came to take us for a bathroom break at three o'clock.

When we returned we got back in my car again and relaxed and dozed off and on for a while. The weather was fine, a cool breeze was blowing - it was nice having a companion to keep from getting bored (or grumpy). I looked over to the side of the road and saw a familiar face - it was one of my old students. He came over and we visited for a while. He said he was staying at his sister's house which was nearby and he swore that he would stick around and make sure we were safe. He insisted we take bottles of water from him and asked if we were hungry. He said he knew the guys that worked at the gas station and went to check out the situation for us. When he came back he said to expect a tanker to arrive around sunset.

At dusk my friend's husband came back, dropping off his youngest brother to stay with us and act as a chaperone and protector. Shortly after that my husband dropped off my son Yusef to do chaperone duties too. So now including my student, we had three protectors.

The tanker truck delivered gasoline a little after sunset. It took about an hour for the gas to be unloaded and the lines of cars started moving at about 9:00pm. All day, since the break of dawn, hundreds of women had been waiting in their cars to fill gas. Many had left their children at home, or taken the day off work, taken time away from teaching or studying. Some were young, some old, some pregnant. All had come to this particular gas station that was designated for women so that they could have a safe way to fill their cars' gas tanks.

As soon the gas station attendants started pumping gas, gangs of men and boys started to try to push their cars into the lines, sneaking in from side roads. Men dressed in army uniforms and carrying Kalashnikovs swaggered to and fro threatening to shoot off the legs of anyone who got out of their car. To reinforce their threats, they shot their guns off into the night sky. Anytime one of the cars driven by the males tried to cut in line the women would all start to honk their horns. The 'soldiers' threatened to shoot the cars of anyone honking.

Men were shouting, women were defending their places, horns were blaring and machine guns were shooting. One of the soldiers standing next to my car told a colleague 'Cover for me for a few minutes. I gotta go smoke some weed'. The air was full of the smell of alcohol and hashish. The boys and men in the cars and the 'soldiers' were inebriated, armed and dangerous.

One man rammed his car into my front bumper, trying in vain to intimidate me into letting him get in line in front of me. I told him the line was for women and he swore at me, calling me the vilest of names. I held my ground and didn't let him in front of me. My student called me and told me to stay in my car and keep my place. No one would hurt the women waiting but they would try to intimidate them.

The situation was getting worse. The gangs of men and boys were getting larger and taking over while the soldiers (if in fact they were soldiers) disappeared into the night. We wondered why they had left. Because of the escalating danger, the gas station attendants decided to close the station. They turned off the pumps and lights and left, leaving the darkened station to the men and boys who were getting more boisterous; playing loud music, drinking and smoking. The women held their places. It was dark and dangerous. I decided to turn on the radio station that plays the recitation of the Quran 24-hours a day (FM 99.9). I turned up the volume as high as it would go and told my friend to do the same in her car. Other women in the line followed our example.

Within minutes a group of police dressed in navy camouflage uniforms and carrying clubs and Kalashnikovs arrived on the scene. They proceeded to smash the men's cars with their clubs, dragging the men out from their cars, beating them over the head and face, crunching bones,  breaking windshields, smashing headlights and taillights and banging dents into the cars. My student called and told me not to worry, that the women wouldn't be attacked. Some of the policemen were jumping up and down on the tops of the cars, crushing the metal beneath their heavy boots. The men were all trying to back their cars out and flee. All around were men screaming and crying from pain and shouting out pleas for mercy. A few shots were fired. Any cars that had been abandoned were attacked by the police who slashed all of their tires. My heart was pounding. I thought I would pass out from fear. I have never been so terrified.

After the men's cars had been cleared out the dust settled and the station became quiet. The police continued to monitor and patrol the area in the darkness. Two cars tried to return but the police immediately came out and sent the men on their way. After about 45 minutes of quiet the gas station re-opened and soon the lines of cars began to move again in an orderly fashion. I reached the pumps at 2:30am. 

As I was driving out of the gas station my student appeared to ask if I needed an escort home. He had stayed with us all night on the sidelines just as he'd promised. I thanked him for his kindness and we left. It was almost three o'clock in the morning when we arrived safely home. The ordeal had lasted over twenty hours.

Friday, May 13th, 2011

I spent a quiet day at home recovering from the trauma and drama of yesterday.

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

When I woke up this morning I looked at the clock and was surprised to see that I'd slept for 12 hours. I guess it was an after effect of the traumatic gas station adventure. I spent the morning tending to my garden. Then I sat on the front porch and read a book. After lunch I took a long nap. I let the peaceful day wash over me. I feel much better now.

There have been about six explosions this evening. I'm not sure where or what they hit. I spoke to friends who live in Tajoura and near the centre of Tripoli but they said it wasn't in their area.

I've got a house full of hormonal teenagers.... I am living in more than a war zone.... God help me... God help us all....

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

My salary situation has been resolved! Yeah! Such a relief! Now I have to make it last until Libya gets back to work again.... whenever that is.

I had a haircut. I didn't need one for another week or so, but when I spoke to my stylist she said 'Get in here cuz I'm leaving in a few days.' So I hopped in the chair and said 'Give me a cut that will last and last.' Short! My hair hasn't been this short in ages. But it's a good cut that will grow out nicely.

Ibrahim has grown out of last year's summer clothes so I took him shopping to see if we could find something to wear. He's at the stage where it's hard to find clothes. The shops have either small kid's stuff or young men's stuff, but not a lot for 12-year olds (and the shops only have last year's merchandise to choose from). I think we will have to take his jeans and make cut offs to wear around the house.

I sat on the front porch in the late afternoon listening to NATO's planes drop bombs south and southwest of Tripoli (but nothing too close by). One after the other until almost sunset. They've never bombed like that before, and not at that time of the day either. 

In the evening I walked to my brother-in-law's farm and his wife made pizza for the kids. We used an electric pizza maker that we hooked up to an extension cord so we could bake the pizza's outside in the garden while we watched the kid's play. We had a nice time.

Monday, May 16th, 2011

There was a knock on our bedroom door early this morning. Nora cracked the door open and poked her head in and said 'We have a bee situation going on in the kitchen.' The 'bee situation' turned out to be a swarm that had come in through the kitchen window. Someone had left a jar of honey on the counter and the bees were lured in by the smell of the honey dripping near the jar's cover. It took a while to move the swarm outside - everything in the house now smells of smoke. Too bad we didn't have a hive to put them in. I've been asking my husband for ages to get some hives. Now maybe he will do it.

The weather was glorious today. I took a walk, picked apricots and mulberries, relaxed in the garden and read a book. Later I took a nap. If I could ignore NATO's air raids throughout the afternoon dropping bombs, it would feel like a holiday. I wondered what could possibly be left to bomb.

The ICC charged Kadafy, his son Saif, and his brother in law Sanussi with war crimes. Now if they could only issue the arrest warrants and collect them and take them away (along with the rest of their clan).

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

I wish that we had internet so I could pinpoint all the locations that have been bombed around Tripoli on Google Earth. Last night there were explosions near two of my friends' homes. They are both ok but say the experience of being so close to a target is very traumatic to say the least.

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

I decided to check out things at work today. As soon as all this mess is over I want to get started back at my evening job so I thought sorting out my cupboards, books and papers would be a good idea. When I got there I opened the gate and the main door, but when I reached the inside door I noticed the door had been damaged and the lock changed. I found the son of the owner of the building who told me the building had been broken into but nothing had been stolen. The morning manager had put in a new lock and repaired the door. He didn't know who had done it but said they were most likely looking for money. I locked up and left. I'll have to get a new key from the morning manager, but that will have to wait until next week as she has run out of gas and can't get to work. What a mess. I'm glad I wasn't there when whoever decided to break in - that could have been really dangerous.

I visited with friends in the evening. It was nice to get away from my kids for a change and do something different. Otherwise it was life as usual.

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

I slept well all night long. In the morning, my husband said during the night the whole town erupted in gunshots and blaring horns. Apparently on the Libyan television channel they said the green flag had been raised in Benghazi and the country was one again. Of course it was just a big lie. Probably a diversion of some kind. I'm glad I slept through it all.

I heard that Aishia and Sophia have gone across the border to Djerba. I thought they had a travel ban placed on them. Maybe they should be put on a leaky migrant boat to Lampadusa.... or given a tent in the refugee camp on the border..... sigh...

I finished reading the book 'Room' by Emma Donoghue. It was hard to get into at first because it's written through the mind of a five-year-old (baby talk) who had never experienced life outside a room that he and his mother were held captive in. I room without windows, only a skylight. When they escaped they had to adapt to life in the world - the boy had only known an 8 foot by 8 foot room without windows - now he and his mother were free. It took time to for them to adapt and they needed assistance. It was interesting.

The book made me ponder what a free Libya will be like for the Libyans who have known nothing but Kadafy. Everyone under the age of 42 will have to adapt to a different kind of life too. The door is unlocked.... they have to get up the courage to step through to a new life.... a life of choices.... a free life.

Friday, May 20th, 2011

We went to sleep listening to the sound of NATO's planes humming in the distance but were soon awoken when the sounds became louder and closer. The planes roared overhead and then we heard the sounds of bombs screaming toward their targets followed by huge explosions that shook the house and rattled the windows. We ran out into the garden to listen and watch. There hasn't been this much bombing ever.

After things seemed to calm down we went inside to watch the news and see what was being reported. Libyan naval ships in the port had been hit in Tripoli as well as in Khoms and Sirte. We had also witnessed bombings on land to the south, east and west of us but these hadn't been mentioned on the news. We turned off the TV and went back to bed.

In the morning we watched the news again while we ate assida with honey for breakfast. It was mentioned that a tanker loaded with gasoline had been turned away. The gasoline situation in Libya is going to become even worse. I told my husband we needed to be patient and not use the car unless it's absolutely necessary - he wanted to take a ride down to the port to have a look! No way! My car has a half tank but my husband's truck is nearly empty. I don't want to get in the gas lines again - it's too dangerous, but I may be forced to.

The weather today was cold and windy. Last week the weather was perfect but today it felt as though winter wanted to come back again.

The kids have been cleaning the area of the farm near the entrance, moving rocks and pulling weeds. They keep finding scorpions as they work and Yusef has been preserving them by throwing them in a bottle with a bit of gasoline. After they've soaked awhile (and are 100% dead) he takes them out and dries them.

Just one of many... 

Scorpions can be easily found at night using an ultraviolet light but I haven't been able to find one in Libya. The scorpions glow when the ultraviolet light hits them. It would be nice to use to check for scorpions in the garden around the house. I've been stung once and it was extremely unpleasant!

I began reading a new book today: 'Breathless' by Dean Koonts. So far it's ok.

Today I'm looking on the bright side and counting blessings. Since the end of February:

  • I've read 35 books,
  • watched lots of movies
  • and six seasons of Two and a Half Men,
  • prepared a teacher training workshop,
  • worked in the garden,
  • spent time with my family and friends,
  • taught my daughters how to bake cakes and cookies,
  • prepared Masterchef style meals,
  • located constellations and planets in the night sky,
  • taken long walks,
  • sorted out books and paperwork,
  • picked and dried herbs,
  • made floral arrangements,
  • organized all the cupboards and closets,
  • had my haircut three times
  • lost five kilos (without even trying),
  • had more time to develop the spiritual side of my life,

.... and that's only some of the list. I never used to have so much free time to do the things I want to do - now I do.

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

We had a thunderstorm this morning. It didn't last long but it was refreshing and settled the dust for a while. Then the wind picked up and the sand started blowing hard. The air was full of dust. Finally, as the sun set the wind died down but the air was still hazy with particles of dust.

There have been some explosions this morning and throughout most of the day. I don't know if they are from NATO or not - just Boom! Boom! To the south of us. Mostly they sound far away. But where exactly, I couldn't say.

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Air raids in the night, we woke up, listened for a while and went back to sleep. I've started going to bed at about ten o'clock because with all the interruptions in the night from air raids I need as much sleep as I can get.  Beauty sleep... don't want to look like a hag now, do I?

The weather today was hot, dusty and muggy. I drove into town to get keys made for the doors at work. The first two locksmiths I went to were closed but I finally found a place open. On the way back home I stopped at the butcher's and the greengrocer's.

We're stocked up now for a while. My gas tank is just a bit below half. The lines at the gas stations keep getting longer. When I sit on my front porch I can hear gunshots coming from far off at the gas station in Ain Zara. How long is this going to go on like this?

I keep hearing about businesses that are being broken into - thieves making off with office equipment, computers, HD TV's - anything that can be carted off and sold. It makes me so sad to hear that Libyans are stealing from each other. This is a time when they should be helping each other. But apparently they are out for themselves.... a behaviour that they have learnt these past 42 years. Take whatever opportunity that appears. Jump in other people’s houses and property - squatters rights. Take what you want even if it doesn't belong to you. Finders keepers.... So sad.

There is talk that everyone in Tripoli will take to the streets and demonstrate on the 28th or 29th. We'll see if that happens. Maybe they will be too busy either waiting in gas lines... or robbing each other.

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Cool and overcast today. I had my morning coffee on the front porch and watched the clouds drift by. Then I went inside to watch the news but there wasn't any new news about Libya so I turned off the TV and went back to contemplating life on the front porch.... sigh....

Meatless Monday: Bazine bil foul for lunch.

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Once again we were awoken in the night by the sounds of planes and bombs. I lost count of the explosions - there must have been at least thirty, coming from every direction but mostly from the city in the area around Bab-Al-Azizia. I went outside to chase the kids back into the house. The sky was overcast and it was hard to tell the smoke from the clouds. As soon as our hearts started beating at a normal rate we went back to bed.

The phone rang at around four in the morning. It was my friend Tara calling from the US. She'd been watching Twitter and wanted to know if the bombs were raining down and were we OK. 'That was about two hours ago' I told her. 'It only lasted about five minutes and then it was over.' She had a hard time believing me. People think that in a war you are bombed relentlessly, but the reality is that the air raids last a few minutes and then you go on with life.

I've discovered that war is pretty boring. Most of the time is spent waiting for something to happen, and while you wait you carry on with regular things like cooking, cleaning, shopping, and waiting in queues for gas or bread. When NATO's planes are overhead we listen for bombs, but usually they only strike at certain times of the day - and mostly at night. I suppose it's different in places like Misurata where the fighting takes place in the streets. But so far in Tripoli it's just been a waiting game (thank God!).

In the morning we got up and started the day. Nora had an exam at uni so I dropped her off and came home. After watching my daily dose of news I started on my list of mundane chores around the house.

The apricots are finished but there are some mulberries left and peaches are just beginning to ripen. I'm counting my blessings! Having fruit trees to pick from is truly wonderful. 

My husband is going to have his truck modified to use gas cylinders (like we use for cooking) instead of gasoline. Supposedly you get approximately 400 kilometres per gas cylinder. I hope this works. The gasoline situation is worse than ever. My car has just over a quarter of a tank now. I'm not looking forward to sitting in lines at the gas station. It's just way too dangerous.

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

There were more air raids during the night. I was too tired to care. I'd hear the planes and the explosions and roll over and go back to sleep.

When I woke up at seven there was no electricity. I got up and made assida for breakfast and then poked around the house for a while. Finally I went to back to bed and read a book until I fell asleep again. The electricity didn't come back on until one o'clock in the afternoon. I wondered if this was going to turn out to be a common occurrence.

I dropped my husband off at his mother's house so he could pick up his truck to take it to the garage. I visited with my mother-in-law for a bit and we watched Obama giving a speech. Then I went home.

More speeches.... I cooked a huge pot of barley soup and watched Obama giving yet another speech. Phew..... long winded speeches one right after the next...

After lunch I called my mom. I usually call my son and tell him to pass on the message that we are all OK. While I talk I watch the clock and talk for a minute and then say bye and hang up. But if I call my mom I talk for five minutes. 'Don't worry about us Mom. We are OK.' I really miss the internet. We were always in contact when we had internet. Now I have to be happy with a minute phone call a day. Well, I guess I should be happy with that - some places in Libya don't have any telephone service at all.

In the evening Ibrahim and I walked to my brother-in-law's farm to visit with his wife and Ibrahim could play with the children. I hadn't heard from them in about a week, it turned out that they have all been sick with some kind of stomach virus. I hope we don't catch it.... I feel sick just thinking about it.

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

We slept the night through. If there were any explosions we didn't hear them.

I woke up at seven in the morning and started in on housework. Ibrahim was my assistant for the day (so I'd let him play computer games when we finished).

We took all of Ibrahim's clothes out of his wardrobe and washed them. Tomorrow we will decide what to keep and the rest we'll bag up and send to his younger cousins. Ibrahim is nearly as tall as I am now. He's at the stage when he's growing out of his clothes faster than I can buy new ones. Nothing from last year will ever fit him again. It's hard to believe that in four months he will become a teenager.

We cooked lunch together; Ibrahim stirring and putting in the correct amounts of spices, adding just the right amount of water. Ibrahim likes to cook and if he watches something being made he immediately commits it to his memory. This is fantastic until you discover him baking a cake or making spaghetti bolognaise at four o'clock in the morning (because he woke up and was bored and hungry). I think we need to start locking the kitchen at night!

The weather today was wonderful. After I finished all the housework for the day I sat out on the front porch with Ibrahim and my husband. We drank tea with roasted peanuts.  Oh what a nice day. If only NATO's planes didn't remind us of the war.

Friday, May 27th, 2011

The usual air raids during the night. Some explosions quite close by. We got out of bed, had a look around at the sky and then went back to bed.

The weather was beautiful. We had a peaceful day.

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

More of the same - air raids during the night - we turn over, pull the blanket up over our ears and go back to sleep. There is nothing we can do about the explosions and their accuracy is so amazing that we feel safe enough to sleep through it all.

My husband and I went to the grocery store to look around and get a few things. They're beginning to bring in more kinds of cheese now - expensive, but it's available.

I visited a friend in the evening. It was nice to get away from the kids for a while.

One of my friends was in the gas line for FIVE DAYS. Finally she got gasoline but it was a HUGE ordeal - lots of shooting and fighting and she said all the police were armed with Kalashnikovs and Taser guns. They were shooting off the Kalashnikovs and threatening people with the Tasers. She said it was extremely frightening.

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Six o'clock in the morning:  Ring.... Ring.... Ring...

I reached over and picked up the phone and looked simultaneously at the caller ID and the clock. It was a friend.  Why was she calling at this hour? I answered the call.

'Hello? Is everything OK?' I asked cautiously. 'Sorry to call you at this hour but I just heard that there is a line for women at the Arada Gas Station and there are only four women in the line' my friend explained. 'Are they pumping gas?' I asked. 'Yes' my friend replied 'Do you want to go?' I looked over at my husband who was nodding enthusiastically and said 'I guess so.... sure.' We decided where we would meet and I quickly got dressed and headed out the door. 

We arrived at the gas station only to find the aftermath of what looked like a brawl. The police were waving away the cars driven by women saying that they weren't filling up for women anymore. There must have been fighting at the pumps. A smashed up car was pushed on the median, windows and headlights broken. One man was stumbling along at the side of the road so drunk that he had to be held up by a friend who was only slightly less inebriated. He was babbling incoherently. The police were sending them on their way. God knows what we had just missed. One of the policemen had suggested we try the gas station in Sidi Masri so we headed that way.

Ten minutes later we arrived at the station in Sidi Masri to discover that they were only pumping gas for men. We tried to convince them to let us in but they were unsympathetic and refused to help us. What next? My friend and I decided that as long as we were out we'd see what was happening at the Tajoura Gas Station. So off we went. When we arrived there we found orderly lines. The one for men lined up in one direction and in the other direction was a double line for women that was three times as long as the men's line. But the pumps were closed; everyone was waiting for gasoline to be delivered. And who knew when that would happen?

We decided that since the lines for men were shorter than the ones for women that we'd go home and send our husbands to fill the tanks. Then we went back to my friend's house and made pancakes and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and had ourselves a good laugh while we wondered what on earth we were doing in Libya.

Monday, May 30th, 2011

We haven't heard any nearby explosions from NATO in a few days and there haven't been very many planes overhead. With the gasoline situation there aren't very many cars on the roads. Almost the only sounds to be heard in my neighbourhood are birds singing, chickens clucking, roosters crowing and dogs barking. Occasionally we hear gunshots in the distance. For the most part it feels peaceful so I'm putting up my feet, relaxing with a book and doing my best to pretend I'm on vacation.

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

There were planes going overhead last night and sometime after 10pm I heard three explosions in the distance to the south. At one point I heard a different kind of plane go over. It sounded like a huge fan blowing a strong wind. The dogs jumped up and started barking at the weird noise. I wondered if it was a drone. I went to bed alone around midnight - my husband was in line at a gas station somewhere in Tripoli.

Sometime in the middle of the night my husband came home. He didn't get any gasoline. He'd left because it was just too dangerous to stay in line.

The kids had stayed up all night long and when I got up in the morning I had to deal with the aftermath of their adventures:

  • The TV room carpet was hanging over a wall in the garden - someone must have spilled something on it.
  • One of my houseplants had been knocked over - all that was left of it were a few broken stems and a pile of potting soil on the floor.
  • Ibrahim's toys were scattered everywhere.
  • At one point during the night Ibrahim had chased one of the cats around the living room and it had peed on the sofa in revenge. The stripped sofa cushions were leaning against the wall and the pillows were piled up in the corner. Thank God the upholstery is washable.
  • Sara had cooked an entire chicken (We're rationing! That chicken was supposed to last three meals!).
  • The kitchen was a mess.
  • Piles of dirty clothes littered the bathroom floor.

Needless to say, I was rather unhappy about the state of my house. The kids had all gone to bed and I had to deal with the mess.

I cleared a place to sit on the sofa in the TV room so I could watch the morning news. The South African leader had been to Tripoli to try to talk some sense into Kadafy.... ha ha ha. All of these empty negotiations are just wasting everyone's time (and patience). I'm waiting for the British to start using their bunker busters. A good, well placed bomb or two (or three) would brighten my day.

We heard some big explosions a little before 10pm. We wondered if NATO would get down to business now that Kadafy said he wasn't going to give up. I sat outside on the porch reading and listening for more air raids. At midnight I went inside and got ready for bed.

For a list of news articles, images and videos of events in Tripoli during the month of May: Libya Uprising Archive - Tripoli - May 2011

1 comment:

  1. I have enjoyed reading your blog about life in Libya. When I was young and in school one of my desk mates was a boy who had grown up there and we heard the most amusing stories. Reading your blog, especially under the present circumstances brought back to mind some of the stories I heard from him. I do hope that you have good luck and the war gets over soon! Odzer from India.


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