Saturday, August 05, 2006

Promises Promises

You know when you little how your parents promise to take you somewhere and when the day arrives for some reason you don't go? You know how you felt? Well growing up I always tried to never promise something that I could not keep. When we planned our trip I promised the kids would have a wonderful time-broken. I promised that we would go places and see things that would make us want to stay-broken. I promised them that on the weekend relatives would take us to the zoo as unlike the US it only cost 1.50 for a whole family to go-broken. I promised my son high-speed internet so we could stay in touch with friends and family-finally got that one after a month. It has been horrible the past few days here. I tried to explain that unlike my Libyan counterparts, women in the USA go outside the home. I mean my sister-in-law goes to her parents house and has visitors. And the language isn't an issue so she has no problem staying around the house for days on end. She also has a toddler. I have five growing children who are use to going to the parks and playing outside girls and boys. The boys are pretty much able to run free, but it is not proper for the girls to be out without their brothers. Ok, tell me of one teenage boy who likes to be around his sister.
Not wanting a problem I have stayed up in my apartment the last few days. Last night my mother-in-law asked me to come out. I went down and told her I was not feeling very happy so I had stayed inside. Why did I not sit outside? What's the blame difference! Sitting is sitting no matter where you do it. If I'm going to be pissed I'm better off alone. Last week I had promised the kids we would take the cab and go to the zoo. Seeing as that week was clash of the titans we didn't go. Even though a large group of American ladies were to meet that day at the zoo without transportation how was I to go. I told my brother-in-law and he promised that we would go soon and all enjoy the zoo together. Well here it is a week later and we still have not gone. I really regret taking the kids here without their dad. I have done my best to respect the family and not speak ill of them, but how do you encourage someone to stay here if you lock them inside and toss the keys. I know this is how women live here. But I see plenty walking the streets and alleys each day from the windows of my home. So why are they out? Is it just my family that stays inside all day sweeping endlessly and sleeping all day long. I know of siestas but this is ridicules. I tried to tell them I don't mind staying inside but the girls especially want to go out and at least go swimming. That is free and walking distance. No, its too hot or not the time for girls to swim. Or sorry it is too late to go now.
Anyway I was speaking outside with my mother-in-law trying to tell her I understand this is her life, but it isn't my life. I don't want to disrespect the family but I need social interaction at least. But apparently except for my other sister-in-law's house I can't go to visit other people. There are neighbors who speak English but we are not allow to visit them for some unexplained reason. I got a few movies on the one outing I did get this week. I was crying most of the day and a sister came and took me out. We of course walked and the girls desperate for going out just had to come and two of her kids joined us. Well I had been looking for something for my tomgirl to wear as they keep talking of a party that has yet to materialize. So we hit the stores on the opposite side of the main street. She had made my brother-in-law batty the last time going out as why cant you find something. You just need a dress. Yeah a dress for a girl who hates dresses. Jeans are the new style with the horrible cropped legs that only twiggy can wear. And she is heavy so nothing can come above the thighs. Even though she has probably lost 10 or more pounds since we have been here she is still large in the legs. No dressing rooms and any mom with a tomboy knows how it is just to get them to try on something that even remotely resembles a girlie outfit. I finally found a pant set that had a stretch waist with baggy legs and ordered her to try it on. She was almost in tears and the kids were running amok around the store. My children know better but being locked up all week they misbehaved as well. I was totally embarrassed as to their behavior. Well I knew there was a CD store down the street and the kids pointed it out and we crossed the street. You remember holding hands with kids to cross a busy street no way! My sisters daughter ran across the street in oncoming traffic and I almost had a heart attack. What's the problem? Oh that it is getting late and maybe a car would not see her. Well we got to the store and it was prayer time so the store was temporarily closed and we stood and waited for the man to return. It was getting dark and I know how dad feels about being out after dark. Finally the man returned and we found a quick collection of movies that we could watch. Six movies for 4 dollars. That's to buy folks. So yesterday I sat all day watching them. One was no good as the picture was gone about halfway through the disk. Ok can one of you boys go return it? No, why do we have to do it. Anyway later I was ushered outside and after a bit my father in law came up. First time I had seen him in two days. I greeted him and he looked at me in anger. How do I greet him now. Where was I all day. I tried to explain that I was sad and had stayed upstairs cleaning and doing laundry. No, why didn't I come down and sit with the family. I told him I was sick of sitting. I needed to go out and what was there to do downstairs anyways. Oh there was plenty to do. Sweeping the carpets and cement and cooking. My brother-in-law and his wife were leaving tomorrow and who was going to cook now? Hell how do I know. The one day I did cook no one ate it. Or they were polite but I know it wasn't how they like it but were trying to be kind. Well think how we feel. We have been here a month an the kids hate most of the meals. A big bowl of pasta with one or two small pieces of bone with a touch of meat on them for 7 people. Yummy, cant wait for dinner. How about fish stew with the heads still on. Yummy, when only two people in your family like fish. The kids were grossed out with the heads and refused to eat. I had given my brother 100 dollars to buy meat with. Why did we need meat? Did we not eat meat? NO......We haven't. But I guess I upset my father in law again. When you have a diabetic daughter pastas are hazardous to her health and I told them we need protein as much to help counter the sugars. No one has listened. So I have to guard her carefully. Beans also the kids hate. Life is so much fun. Beware of what you ask for you just might get it.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Sugar and Spices

No, this one is not what you think it is about. This one is about telling it like it really is. Before coming to Libya I spent a great deal of time trying to learn all I could about what to expect of life here as compared to life in the USA. I spoke to people on the internet who lived here and people who had lived here and ones who had visited in the past and recently. I thought I was pretty prepared for most any situation I could encounter.
I guess I have got screwy wires or something. Its not the place or the people but the situations you can be in that you have no control over. I heard that most of the American ladies that came before me had a rough time adjusting to life here and how each one had made it through and stayed here in Libya or at least wanted to visit it again.
Thing is no one ever told me exactly what went wrong with their trip or stay. Well you all know that I am here alone with five kids. None of whom speak Arabic beyond hi and how are you. I have a good feel for the language but my speaking is limited and I don't always get everything that someone is saying. So, I felt at least I had a better chance than most ladies who came without one word of Arabic under their belt. At least they had their hubbies to help out with the translating. Most tell of being restricted from going out or doing things that we were use to before and having hubbies that revert back no matter how long they have lived outside of Libya.
I don't know if any other woman came with children other than toddlers to Libya, beyond a visit. If so I would have loved to have spoken with you more.
It is not that my husbands parents and family are not wonderful people they really are good people with the best of intentions. Its just in the USA I am the one who takes charge of all the family needs beyond earning the money to pay the bills. I may not be perfect at it but I did it. Take away that and you have nothing. I did all my housework at home with little effort. Everything is available here if you can afford it. It may not be in your city or it may cost more but in general you can now get anything. Here is more of why do you need that? When sweeping the carpet with a broom can get it done why do you need a vacuum? Mops are a joke a rag over a squeegee and if you don't have a bucket you keep running back to the sink to rinse. Courtyards are always needing to be swept and washed off. Except for the sweeping part why do you need to wash cement?
Most will find you are also locked up for a bit. Ok, I had gotten use to staying home but day after day is capable of driving someone batty. If your family is not very social as mine are you can go crazy even faster if you cannot speak with people and no TV with english you can go nuts. I got so depressed lately I stayed inside my apartment for the last two days. I really do like it here but I need to get out. No one wants to go anywhere and all the men who are suposed to be taking you places hate to do it. You sit all day waiting for someone to think it is now cool enough to go out and they say oh I want to go see my friends. Why should I have to take them out? Even though Libya is modern and women are allowed to drive here, you may want to think twice about driving for a bit. Unless you are accustom to a large metropolitan city with way to many cars, you may find that a taxi or relatives may be the best shot for transportation for a bit. Don't rely on hubby either. If he needs a job he will be gone til around 4 pm each day. I found most things I need are within walking distance of the home but I have yet to see those cute carts the old ladies use anywhere in Libya. Add it to your bring it list. As for electronics or modern conviences. Yeah they have it all again it is a matter of money and availability. I have yet to see a boombox in a local store. The ones I have seen they say costed a few hundred dollars or more and even the smallest ones are very expensive. You can bring your own but get a good quality power converter before you come. Bring a few things like your cellphones and hairdryers and most any electronic item will need them and if you got kids try listening to them bicker over who gets the converter next. Computers are very cheap here but I need to warn you of quality here. There are many imitations here. I sent my son out for a boombox and he brought back what I first thought was a Panasonic. Ok, then I looked more closely at the spelling somehow it was wrong. Panasoninic was how it was spelled. Fake. And get to know the shops, if you need to return something there are no receipts so hope you have a honest dealer. So far that hasn't been an issue. Clothing and household items are also interesting. They have some of the latest fashions here but most are Asian imports. Beware of quality again. I had a pair of pants that split the seam 20 minutes after my daughter put them on. There are seamstresses in town so if you don't sew, you can get them repaired. I would bring my own sewing machine if you own one. The only one I have seen so far was a old handcrank model from maybe the early 1900's. Still working as it was metal. Not electronic. You can get all the latest movies and music if you look around but quality can again be an issue. Most are copies so they are very cheap but you may pay for the fact they wont work on an older dvd player. I have two that I bought last year and they could not read them. Also they have no controls functioning so no skipping through them. And they have Arabic subtitles on many of them. Music is another item. Yes you can find most of the popular singers but again it is copies. Mostly from TV programs from what I have found locally. Ask around, better yet bring your own. Finally medicines. You can get just about anything at the corner markets that have a pharmacy in them. No prescription needed so be careful if you have teens who could be using drugs or over the counter meds. Bring what you can if you have medical issues that would be safer. Then find one of those books that tell you what a medication can do. It is handy. But I don't encourage self medication for someone who does not know medications. My niece was sick yesterday with a fever and I prefer home remedies and herbs if possible. Ginger will take a fever down as well as peppermint teas. If you don't have tylenol handy. I think I will begin posting some ideas from my books that I brought for anyone who needs something and cant find it. Oh well enough for now this one will probably get an add on but I need to let the son have the computer again. Bye for now.