Monday, July 31, 2006

The Clash of the Titans

Well sorry its been a bit since I wrote. See I had started a job and from the first day there was trouble with me and my father-in-law. First he didn't want me to even work. Why when my husband was sending money did I need to work? Then when money did not arrive I began to wonder if I had been abandoned in Libya. Finally a few days before starting the job my husband called and said he could send money western union just needed a name to send it to. Sounds easy right? Nope, not if you have no idea where a western union is at. I remembered that my friend had taken me to a big hotel in the city and that the man said that the western union would open in a week. Ok what was the name of the hotel? Took me a month to get that info. Anyway, my father in law was getting upset with me. I had stopped after work one day an picked up some hot chicken to treat the family with and he was livid. I was late and where had I been. I explained but it didn't help. The next day I was angry as they had informed me that my youngest daughter had headlice and I wanted to treat her right away. They said they had no medicine for it so I looked in my medical herbs and remedies book and found a mixture of vinegar and water would kill lice. I needed vinegar. A bit of explaining and finally my sister-in-law knew what I needed. I wanted to see if the corner market had some. I walked to the door and said I would be right back. Oh no, my father informed me. Send one of my sons it was late for women to be out. The store was right outside our gate and yet I could not go outside. They had no idea what I needed so he said wait till tomorrow. Ok, and in anger I stormed upstairs. The next morning I was still angry and spent the day cleaning house as being gone all week, I had a big pile of laundry to do. I finished and still no one had brought vinegar. I asked the kids if they wanted to go swimming. This was one thing my husband had given me permission to do without guidance. Sure they replied. And we dressed and left the house. We walked down to the ocean to find out to our dismay that for as far as the eye could see were men. No ladies. Ok, so now what? I knew that the area we had came was close to my husbands brothers house and we headed in that direction. Soon we were lost. But I had a general idea of where we were at. Finally hot and tired we found the street and came out a few houses up from the family home. A good neighbor saw us and invited us in. We went in a sat for too long as it always goes. Soon it was dark. The family found out where we were and had sent a message for me to come home. I was asked to go to my brother-in-laws house. So off I went. I arrived an was ushered into the room where I was told that I was to no longer work. I was wandering the streets unescorted and I could have been lost. Ok, I apologized. I was sorry I had offended the family. But what about my work? Why must I quit? Father was mad and that was all that mattered. So again, in anger I went home. I called my friend to tell her to let the work know my dilemma. I was not allowed phone calls, to who did I need to call? And during the day we were limited on phone use as what if my brother in law needed to call home or his wife needed to call someone. My cellphone was on its last few minutes and with no money how could I recharge it so I was saving it for a big emergency. Ok. So be it.
The next morning I awoke to wails from the neighboring house. What was happening? I saw a man putting up a tent and thought maybe the family was grieving as when a bride leaves the home. I went downstairs and from my mother-in-law I understood that someone had died. My father-in-law had told me it was someone the kids had met. I felt sorry for the family. Later we dressed and went next door. Many women sat under the tented area. A few cried softly and others wailed. One woman in total grief ran from the area and I pursued her to a post where she had banged her head and pulled her away. She pulled loose and ran outside to the open area. No cover and in a sleeping gown. No site for men to see. I pulled her quickly back into the yard and took her to sit down. She passed out. I checked her pulse and we doused her face with water. I checked the spot and saw she had a large cut on her head. It was swelling. No ice. I ran to my home and got an icepack from our fridge and returned. After a bit of time she was revived. Later another woman began to be distressed and I again I jumped to restrain her from harming herself. Shortly after we left I am sure that I had made a spectacle of myself. I returned to my apartment to rest. A bit later one of my husbands sisters arrived and we were talking about the neighbor's death. To my anguish I learned that he was family. An uncle of my husbands father who had diabetes and he had died during the night. I began to cry. I remembered this man. He spoke with me after my arrival. He spoke excellent English and said how many family members had died waiting to see my husband again and that he hoped to live to see him again. He appeared in good health so why not a few more months and he would arrive. Sadly, his wish was not answered. So for now I am back in the home. Money has arrived to the western union now and I need the transfer number so we can get it. My husband had given the number to the relative who had answered the phone but they had not written it down so we needed to call again for the number. I worked things out with dad. I am to ask to go outside and get his permission. No problem, I understand and I am to take an escort so I won't get lost again. God forbid someone should talk about that Faris families wayward daughter. Oh well life goes on. I have high speed as of today so now I can keep you more informed. And not working leaves me more time for internet now. Oh happy day. On a footnote. I finally got the number and after another day I was able to go get my money. I also went to my job who was glad to see that I was out at least. I informed her that my brother-in-law and a daughter were waiting in the car downstairs. We chatted a bit and I profusely apologized for the problems caused by the family but they understood. Funny the day of the funeral my father-in-law had asked why I was not dressed yet. Huh? You told me not to work! No, he said that in the evening when we had talked he had forgiven me and if I wanted to continue working that was fine just abide by coming straight home. He was to bring food for the family not me. Oh my God, not again. Just like his son. I told him sorry I was not going to go through continual problems of late cabs or I had done something wrong. So I shall sit at home. Its not too bad really. My house has never been cleaner. Maybe I will be a better housekeeper when I go home. Myself I hope we stay here but there are many factors that need to be resolved. You think it is rough for me. Wait till hubby comes home. I have about a hundred relatives who will either kiss him to death or beat him. Lets hope the kisses are first. And another thing, I didn't bring our birthcertificates for the kids. Why did I need them? The kids had passports for Libya. Those are temps I have been told and with no family book I cannot get new ones. Any suggestions? I have sent word to see if certified copies could be sent by email to the Corinthian hotel. I don't know of anything else to do. We may not be able to leave as it is. Dual-Citizenship and all. I did register with the state travel bureau today. If anyone has any ideas let me know. Finally, how to find me. If you are familiar with Tajura find the turnaround with the well in the middle. There are two in the area. There is a large government building on the west side of the turnaround. The road is unfinished about a quarter of the way down the block with another crossover in the middle of the section. There is a small alley next to a building with green doors and writing on it. I think it is a meat market. Something for men I am told. We are walking distance from the Tajura Bank. Ask in that area for the Abdulsalam Mohammed Ali Faris family. Go down the alley and find Jaffars market it has a white car broken down in front that is the alley for our house. On all sides are Faris homes. Maybe some of you ladies living in the area will stop by and visit. Khadijah Teri and Janel Salim have visited me so if they can find the house you can too. If you have daughters around the ages of 12 my daughter Aieysha would be most grateful for english company. I guess I can have visitors! I will try to get someone to go out and take some photos of the main streets so you can find me better. Landmarks are a girlscouts best friend! Thanks for reading and caring everyone.

Monday, July 17, 2006

American Traditions

Well I guess I'm about as american as you can get even though I have been muslim for 25 yrs. There are still some things that make us stand out above the women of another middle east country. Independance would probably be one of my biggest. My husband was in a horrible car accident about 14 yrs ago and at the time I had two small children and one on the way. We went from over 5,000 a month salaries to less than 800 a month and we had just bought our house not too many months back. Well I have many talents and once my husband was able to fend for himself I went back to work. Here is no different. Hubby is not around and I need to be able to be a bit more american on my money! So, I asked around for some work. Teaching here offers the highest salary so I am looking into that as a first option. Transportation is another issue. I'm not quite yet ready to venture out in a car by myself but each time I do go out I watch for familar landmarks. That is about the only way I know to get around. Within walking distance is more stores than I would need in a general week back home so everything is close. I found a store for electronics as well. Wowwww a TV or air conditioner is very appealing. But my eyes are on the bug zapper and stoves first. I do my laundry in the bath tub as it was so hard to take wet laundry upstairs. They only had two lines downstairs and the air is better upstairs so I strung two lines on my balcony. Most of the women hardly leave the house so that is something once I get settled in I would not mind hardly but for now I need to rely on myself for getting things. At home I do pretty much everything. Take the kids to school or activities, shopping for everything and even gas for my car. So I know I need to settle down a bit but I know that I also need to be aware of where I am at in the city. With problems in Isreal and Palestine, you need to know where you are! I did find out the family apparently has a shelter. It is covered but I guess being so close to the ocean front it is good knowing they have one. The homes here are so different. Each one with its own unique flair. I will try to take some pictures this week of some of the ones close by. Well I need to go as but one other tidbit. I made corn on the cob american style last night. The corn here is roasted on the stove till slightly burnt and my kids were wanting boiled corn so we got some last night. I guess like us some foods just aren't the same. My sister in law does not like butter so she would not even try one plain. Oh it was good even if it was still not quite done. But most of the family gave it a try. Haha.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Week and Counting

Well after I posted the others I realized that many people had commented on some things that I thought would be neat to tell you more about. First, my house was built by my father-in-law. Back many years ago, he had five businesses for building houses. All the iron work and cabinets and tile work he did. So yes it is beautiful, how could it be anything less? Next, is the outhouse. Hey as compared to the one I grew up with it is modern. It flushes. And has an actual toilet. I was one of those kids who had a wooden outhouse with the moon cut in the door for light and a stool that you sat on that covered the hole for waste. Don't think about what came up. If you ever roughed it in the mountains you know what I am talking about. I spoke about corncobs. well I wish they were like what we eat in the USA, but they skin them and roast them over a fire to eat. Burnt and tough. I told my sister-in-law I would show her american corncobs one day soon. I found out they have butter but not in the house. As to my pantry at home the cupboards are a bit bare and lacking of many of the spices that I am use to using. I guess they have them I just haven't found a store yet that had more than a few items of staples. I can't believe that in walking distance I have over 50 stores I can go to. From haircuts to household items. I even found the hardware store with appliances. Boy those big washers looked so nice. And they have microwaves too. Guess what I want first? I'm doing laundry in my kitchen sink as my mother-in-law thinks I use to much water. Well with a daughter with exema what can I do. So what they don't see. And I strung two lines off my balcony so I can hang those undies out of sight of the men in the family. The kids actually made me breakdown today. Nothing is like they are use too but I tell them oh well. You can either get use to it or we go back plain and simple. Family politics came into play yesterday. My youngest stubbed her toe and was crying and they grocery guy took her to his house to fix it. Well no one knew where she was at and you don't go yelling down the street "Fatimah". They informed me that she was at the grocers house and I went to see if she was ok. Of course I was invited in and after a bit of chatting in arabic and english and italian we had tea and coffee and cakes. They were so nice. I later found out that they were relatives of a friend of my hubby. He works in Canada and helped me get through all the hastles of getting here. But when I went back home they family was saying oh she should not go out by herself and visit people. Hey they don't know my social butterfly! Anyway I promised that I would tell her not to go to peoples houses without me knowing. What do I have to worry for here? Everyone for at least five streets knows who we are and where she lives. You wonder how I know so many languages? Well I met my husband through and ESL student of mine. I can understand the jist of most languages if I pay attention. A god given gift I guess. Plus I worked with deaf and blind kids most of my teen years so mine and minic get me pretty far. Mafeesh is hardly spoken each day. Today some ladies stopped by and were chatting with us and my father-in-law joined us. Well they asked me to go get a cushion I thought and when I brought one and told him to sit down he raised his cane and shook it at me. Well me in all my american glory chased him around the area and told him that I was sorry he wanted a chair instead. The ladies rolled with laughter. Me chasing a 81 yr old man around the room. He so reminds me of my hubby in our earlier years. And he tells me I am just like his wife. My hubby use to tell me the same thing.. I commented to her that I love the Libyan old womans cover and that I wanted one. And she told me that how is it that none of her daughters wanted to wear it but me the american woman wants one? Her daughters laughed when we repeated the story. I love old cultures. Send me back a few hundred years and I would probably be more happier. Although I do love hot water and toilets. But hey even the Romans had hot water and toilets. Well better go my son has complained all week why we didnt get hi-speed internet yet? So what internet cards we have he is using. I hope to resolve him and his internet soon. Anyone know of a good job I can get for a few months? Swaya arabi, but english is a plus. I can do just about any job if given the chance. Khadijah I haven't forgotten you. I lost your number so please email me so I can meet up with you. Then if you know where the Murad Agha mosque is we can meet there if necessary as I live walking distance from it but there are no address or streets so I guess we can figure out something. Ok keep looking back for more. oldmomma.

Tour Two

Ok, here is the bathtub and shower as you can see no curtains. And my hubby better learn to like green as this is all around the room and the full floor to ceiling. I need a few linen closets built for storage but otherwise it will do until I can remodel with time. Next is a open foray that is just inside the gate. It can allow the women to enter here and the men go to the side of the house. The room you see is the laundry room. I need to get some flowers going here if we stay. Next is the view of my bedroom ceiling. I guess he paid quite a pretty penny to have it done as it lights all different colors and has multiple lights that are so nice. Any one for a date? These are right outside of my window and with a broom you can knock them down. They should be ready by Ramadan time. Otherwise the house is pretty simple for now but let me have a hand and I can show them how us americans can fix up a place. Colors is the word and lots of herbs and flowers. Since Colorado has been in drought for the last few years I know just what I can plant and with all the laundry I do I should have plenty of water to keep stuff happy.

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A Tour of the House

Well I finally took a few pics of my place and I know it isnt what most people would expect but if I stay I am sure making a few changes. Furniture and kitchen items first. This is my main livingroom in my flat. It goes out onto a balcony that looks north. I hung some clothes lines out there as there was not enough downstairs for my big family. And it is better for those undies! The next pic is my boys room simple for now but I will fix it up if we stay. Next is the kitchen. This wall is the sink and I have a large wall of cabinets and finally got a fridge. Hopefully a stove soon but only if we are staying do I really need one. As most cooking is done on the main level of the house. The next is a view of my girls room. It is actually the womens living room but hey i have kids so oh well. It is a large room so I will fix it for all three girls. Maybe a murphy bed set so we can use the room for guest also? My room and the bathroom photos disapeared so I guess I need a second pic blog. I will try to take pics of the city this weekend. A thousand things to buy if I stay and a broom and mop from the usa is high on my list. The quality here is weak and you spend so much time cleaning that I want a good broom.

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Blast from the Past

The other day I wondered where my in-laws went to the bathroom as I have a bathroom on my level but I had seen no bathroom on the main level. My kids informed me that the room by the garage held the bathroom. I peaked inside the other morning after taking this shot. Hey it was much nicer than any outhouse I went in as a kid. I try to tell people that not much can surprise me as when I was a child I was living on a farm in Florida. Our outhouse was never as nice and hey this one was free of cockroaches. Posted by Picasa

Down the Alley

This is also a view as seen from the next floor of the home that leads to a main road if you can call it that. More like a alleyway. If you notice the house with the carpets, behind it is the house of my sister-in-law Khadijah. I was looking for a bit of fresh air and asked the kids to show me where the home was as since I had arrived I had not left the courtyards of the home. Wow less than a block and there were corner markets selling bread and brooms. I haven't been there yet but I need a broom so maybe I will check it out as I need a broom for my level. Posted by Picasa

Views to the West

I guess you could call it a view! This is the stairway that winds itself up through my family home and each level is marble staircase with a colored glass wall that extends all the way up past my brother in laws home to the roof where if we so choose we can add more levels. I am surprized at the level of marble and tile used here. Large pieces that I am use to seeing cost hundreds of dollars are everywhere. They do not polish the stone quiet like we do but if I ever had the tools I would round the edges and polish them to a high sheen but it would take many months to do all the marble I have in the home. Posted by Picasa

Views to the South

As I loaded this picture the speakers around me began to call the adan for morning salat. The first night I had barely slept from the roosters in the field and just as I was to sleep the adan was begun and it reminds me of how in the US we have sirens that sound around the city in the event of tornadoes. But this is a call to prayer. If you notice in this pic you can see a square box on the roof of the house in the distance. This is where water is stored for the home. If you have a well pumps pull the water to the roof where it is stored and then distributed throughout your house. Two days ago I was washing laundry and the water began to sputter. In a few minutes we were out of water. No one who spoke english was around so in bits of arabic I learned that my brother in law needed to prime the pump again and in about an hour we had water again. Thank god as I needed to finish laundry. Posted by Picasa

Views to the East

This is the view where my sun rises each morning and it is a field of clover grass and a field ready to be planted. This is the direction of the mosque from the sounds that I hear each day. Next to this field is an area that has a chicken pen and this holds the roosters who have been my alarm clock for the past week. Date palms line the area but this is the largest group. Posted by Picasa

Rooms with a View North

You wonder what the bird feels like sitting in her cage looking out at the world? Well, that is what it is like for many women in the world. Being a homebody isn't bad but some days a change of secenery is due. I woke up and had promised all week to take some more pictures of our home and surrounding area. I went to the windows of my second floor apartment and shot early morning views. So to the north, south, east and west here are my views. Not having a compass I can only go by the sun as I have seen it rise and fall so this is from the north my view off the balcony of my main livingroom. If you can see there is many homes as this looks out from what was a community well now gone dry. It is marked with the names of some of the children of the family so I guess this is the well my husband spoke of as hiding in so he would not be called for chores. There is a walking path that I have seen men walking through and hearding sheep. Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 07, 2006

First Impressions

First Impressions are usually what make or break a relationship so putting the best foot forward is always best. The family men arrived at the airport to take us home and probably drove the slowest for what I have seen so far. I came to the house and was greeted by my husbands sisters and brothers and mom and dad. How many tears were shed? Where was my husband and when would he arrive? Who is who and can I remember names five minutes from now? We bustled and finally went up stairs to see our section of the house. The house to me was beautiful but a farcry from what I was use too. I was sitting in a large room first and when we went up two flights of stairs I was shown my portion of the house. A large family room with a bedroom and a second family room to the right that will have to be a bedroom for now. Then through a doorway to a kitchen on the left a bathroom in the middle and a bedroom for me to the right. All the rooms are about three times bigger than what I am use to though. The bathroom was probably the most interesting.
You got the toilet that plugs if you put paper in it so you need to put it in a baggy to toss. Then the bidet is next to the toilet but no water you got a hose off the side of the main toilet to use. Then the sink and cupboards are in front of you and the tub is to my right. Tub is a shower to with the plumbing on the side but does not have a curtain. The ceiling is about 20 ft tall so forget hanging from the ceiling. The room is large so the average curtain rod would never reach so lock the door and undress. The floor is tile so if water goes out you squeegee it to the hole in the floor. Best way to clean a bathroom. Toss water and rinse. The kitchen has homemade cupboards but they are not to bad. The counter is covered with marble tile that is so thick it would cost hundreds of dollars to buy in the USA. Other than that the kitchen has a table as a stove and fridge were not bought yet they are waiting to see if we stay to buy one. Since the family eats together that has not been much of an issue yet. But I sure miss my water cooler!
The main level is a large open room probably around 2000 sq ft. This is the main room during the day or for ladies. To the right there is a room for men and two smaller rooms. My inlaws sleep there. There is a kitchen to the left. The kitchen has a large propane stove that I was afraid to light but now I'm cool and a fridge and counters with plenty of cupboards. The sink is placed so high though that I strain my back washing dishes. I think it was built for taller people.
After two days I finally got to go out of the house and I was shown the old home that was attached to my house on the left. This was the home my husband remembers. A smaller version of the one we have now. That had a hoot of a bathroom. You straddle a hole in the floor to go potty! It is not in use now but it can be refurbished for future use.
I went outside of the home and went through a large gated area to see the outside world that I had viewed from the many rooms of my home. Wow across the street (if you want to call it that, more like an alley) was a bread market with small items for sale. I crossed the path and was shown the doorways to my sister-in-laws house. I came unexpected so I was bustled to the marbouah. This one was for the ladies and was quite nice with arabian couches that went around the room. After a bit I was told that my old friend has arrived so I hurried back to the house and found a room full of women I had to meet. After tea and chocolates I was excused and we went for a quick drive around the city. I went as far as the Green Square and saw the ocean on the right. There were people selling corncobs about every 20 ft along the ocean front. Traffic is another issue so you need to be on constant guard for what lies in front, to the side, and all around you. Accidents are a part of life here. Well this gives you a taste of my first days with so many ahead. Keep coming back for more and I will post pics soon.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

D day arrived an we boarded the plane with 20 bags and 8 carryons. The flight was so long and we felt like sardines much of the way. Where are those big seats all the airlines talk about? We made it to Amsterdam without a hitch and that was the first place we could actually stop. Well we went to the lounge upstairs and tried to have a few minutes. Without euros I was stuck for food and on one flight we almost lost one of the carrybags. Thanks to God we had packed a bag with snacks. I sat in the lounge for a bit while the kids changed clothes and funny with all that i packed it seemed like nothing fit or could not find the clothes i thought I had packed. We went downstairs to see about changing money and the kids had put down the tickets! I sent two kids to look in the last place we had sat and I was freaked when they did not see the tickets so I went there and did not find them also. I started to cry. Stuck in Amsterdam! Some people figured out what I was upset about and said they had seen the cleaning people with a envelope! I found imformation and thank god the tickets were there.
Last leg of trip we finally arrived in Tripoli. I didn't think the Mediterainnian was so BIG! When we arrived over Tripoli all we could see was sand. Where was the green? When we got off the plane I was unsure of where to go and found some people who kind of gave directions. You know just go that way! After we passed through a door a man in Kacki pants started speaking to the boys and I had no idea what he wanted. Well they were looking for us as uncle Salem was there. We made it through locating all the luggage and got 4 cars to get us home. Half the men in the family had came. The trafic was another story one I am sure anyone here knows all to well. In America it would be like Nascar in New York with no traffic lights. Sorry, I did see two traffic lights in the full distance between Tripoli and our house.
We finally arrived and they hustled us through a door into a large area. Boy it was a big as our mosque inside. And my husbands mother and father were waiting inside with his sisters. Talk about tears of JOY. After like a thousand kisses we finally sat down. We got a short visit and they sent us upstairs to unpack and rest. Fatimah got the tour of the property and found all of grandpas chickens and ran one off the first day. I met it seems like a thousand people all relatives or relatives of relatives! One lady is 110. Well for some reason half of what I had just typed dissapeared. The house is got no fidge or stove yet so I have to go to the main level for now. And the leftovers go to the sheep and chickens. Well so much to say and do and see. Will get pics posted soon! You know how first few days are. Fatimah is already asked for by her auntie Khadijah for her cousin Mohammed hey he is 25 so I said ok but let her get a little bigger first. She said ok and proceeded to figure out who else gets who. Hey keep them in the family. Well our fun has just begun so keep looking for updates.