Thursday, April 30, 2009

A chop too far..

What the hell was I thinking going to have my hair cut at a Libyan hairdressers?????

I have officially got short hair having had 6 inches chopped right off within the space of two minutes (it literally was “chop” “chop”). So I am lucious locks no more. Initially I was in a bit of a strop, having walked out afterwards without even having a blow dry (mind you that wasn’t just the haircut - the screaming baby and blow dry queue were a real deal breaker).

Oh well, I have resigned myself to the new bouffant and am quite happy without the length in this heat, regardless of the disastrous style. (My hairdresser would have a heart attack!)

After the hairdressers I took on another adventure - a taxi home alone for the first time. Will NOT be doing that again!

My neighbour was slightly worried and told me that I MUST wear sunglasses in the car. Thinking she was being a bit of a paranoid mother figure I ignored her advice and left them sitting on top of my head. BIG MISTAKE!

I have now had my first marriage proposal (which I politely declined) but also almost lost my life as the driver drove at full speed whilst turning around to shout "Wow Boootiful Eyes"! Very amusing in hindsight...

All in a days work!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wish Me Luck..

I'm going to get my haircut in Libya tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Office Playground

My assistant is going through a spot of bother at work at the moment. Her three best friends have all turned on her and she is absolutely fuming!

Last week she came in to work wearing her headscarf but also wearing a long t-shirt style dress (on top of jeans and a long sleeved white top). The dress itself was a bright pink colour. Her three best friends are all very strict Muslims who wear the full hijab to work. (See "bedouin hijab" in picture above).

They were extremely disgusted to see my assistant in the bright pink dress (although she wears Western clothes with her headscarf every day, this particular outfit was not to their taste and considered inappropriate, even though it was not tight or revealing in any way). Anyway, she was very unhappy with their behaviour towards her and decided that they were no longer her friends. (But she assured me I am her sister, not her friend – had to love that!)

One of the other Libyan secretaries who speaks English came to explain the situation to me and told me very proudly that there are 3 types of women in Libya.

1. Those who dress like me – western style dress (albeit modest) with hair uncovered.
2. Those who dress like her and my assistant – with the headscarf but with modest western clothing.
3. Those who dress completely covered in the full hijab.

Passionately she proceeded to explain that although you may be No. 1, inside you might be a good person and No. 3 might be a bad person. So therefore, my assistants friends had no right to judge her, as inside, she is a good person (despite the language barrier, I can already tell this). A great statement for life in general, regardless of being a Muslim country, it brings to mind the term, clothes do not make a person, it is a person who makes the clothes.

Well, today, to really accentuate the whole argument, my assistant received a package which was delivered to the office. There was a letter and a booklet. (All in Arabic so my translation may be vague). The letter basically compared her to a Libyan woman within the company who had a very bad reputation (in other words, the office hussy) and the booklet served as a guide as to the do’s and don’ts of how one should dress!

She was crying and shouting (completely the norm in Libyan offices anyway) and I feel so angry for her, this girl is a 30 year old virgin who blares out the quaran everyday in my office!

I know a good 'un when I see a good 'un and this one is a good 'un!

A memo goes a long way!

After weeks of non stop debates with the “transport & services” and the “maintenance” and the “catering and services department” regarding the repairs and refurbishment of my apartment and getting absolutely nowhere I decided to take things into my own hands. No, I have not sworn or thrown a humongous hissy fit . . . . . . . I have written a memo!

I wrote this memo in the name of my boss – and it was quite strong outlining the issues with my apartment which need to be fixed “urgently” and about the negative impact it is having on my well being having workmen entering my private space during the evenings and weekends. Lucky for me, my boss was very happy to sign it (I personally think he loves an argument so it made his day!).

The memo outlined every single minor detail which I want repaired and lo and behold, I have come home to every hole in the wall filled, the house has been repainted, furniture has been removed and replaced, handles are usable, I can open my garden door . . . . I even have GARDEN FURNITURE now!

Why don’t memo’s work with boyfriends?

Monday, April 27, 2009

40 days and 40 nights..

Today is day 40!

Yeah, I'm still counting down..

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Feeling Hot! Hot! Hot!

Flaming Nora it's baking here, and this is just the start of it!

Today was a very hot 35°C (95°F ).

It is like an oven outside, I love it really but it's knocking me out all the time, the minute I step into a car I'm out for the count with my head bobbing all over the place like noddy.

It is getting very hot here...


(So keep ON ALL your clothes)..
Ha...I had to be cheesy at some point (Maybe it's the heat going to my head)


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Boy ♥ Boy

One of the biggest cultural shocks here for me has to be the way in which men and women relate to each other. It is so far removed from the Western world that I am used to.

Men and women are pretty much segregated in Libya, and there seems to be very few women compared to the number of men out on the streets, shopping, at cafes or restaurants. I have not seen one couple showing affection or holding hands in Tripoli but it is SO common to see men being affectionate with each other (not to be confused with homosexuality as that is actually illegal in Libya).

Walking down the street you see men holding hands, with their arms around each other, leaning into each other, stroking each others faces and planting kisses on each others cheeks.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thought Of The Day!

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Domestic Goddess!

I'm loving having my own place now and have spent the weekend being very houseproud! I have scrubbed and bleached to my hearts content, the windows are gleaming and even the front door has been polished.

On top of that I have made a delicious spicy meatball pasta dish, fresh salad with my new salad dressing and just popped a huge shepherds pie in the oven.

Nigella eat your heart out!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

One Month Later..

The View From My Front Door

I feel under immense (self inflicted) pressure to deliver a corny clichéd reflection on my first month here in Libya but .................. I can’t be bothered!

I have at last graduated into the adjustment phase having successfully passed the where the hell am I phase?!

There is so much for me to learn still, I feel like a real idiot half the time when I make silly errors (like putting an English newspaper on top of an Arabic newspaper – not good – the English newspaper MUST go underneath the Arabic one).

I’m trying to suss out everything anyway and will get there eventually, Rome wasn’t built in a day. The culture, the people, the do’s and the don’ts, directions, etc – I still have not got a clue but I seem to be getting away with it (perhaps they are saying bloody blonde Irish woman!)

So, in conclusion – I am really enjoying the new experience, everything is an adventure and even though I live here now I still feel like a tourist who asks too many questions and takes out her camera at every single opportunity.

Monday, April 13, 2009


My first sick day off work falls within my first month! Not happy but it’s out of my control.

The day has been full of puking, sleeping and feeling extremely out of it. Don’t know if it’s the water or the food I ate but I know now that I need to start cooking at home for sure!

My assistant called me to see if I was ok, even though she speaks Arabic only she managed to tell me in English that she loved me, missed me and that I was her sister!!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I Like Big Butts

GIGANTIC Libyan Cow Udders!

Imagine having to milk them?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sublime Sabratha

Breathtaking Sabratha!

I have had an amazing day today thanks to my neighbour! At 10am he was insistent that I get out of bed and come with him and another neighbour to Sabratha, and by George am I glad I went!

Sabratha is an absolutely stunning Ancient Roman site just an hour away from the capital, Tripoli. It is really amazing walking around all these beautiful ruins which are surrounded by white sandy beaches and the clear blue mediterranean sea.

There are ruined temples, theatres, churches, baths, houses, olive oil making grounds all crammed in to this quite compact site and you really can imagine what it must have been like back when it was lived in by the Romans (like 450 AD!!).

Libya isn’t a big tourist destination at the moment so I was suprised to see quite a few tour groups at Sabratha, I’m so glad I’m getting to see places here before it changes, as I can really imagine Libya developing, becoming more commercial and a hot spot for tourists.

The Theatre

(this is the only picture I didn't actually take myself, its so difficult to capture the enormity of the whole theatre in one picture)

Headless Statue, Seaward Baths

The Temple of Liber Pater (Temple of Dionysius)

Temple of Serapis

To see all my photos of Sabratha please check out:

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Anyone For Camel?

Camel meat is eaten widely in Libya, I haven’t had the stomach for it as of yet but it is on my to do list. Seeing the dead camel heads hanging outside the butchers is a slight deterrent!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Everybody Needs Good Neighbours!

Great news! I have proper running water!

This however is not thanks to my trusty team of workmen, but thanks to my super neighbour, a project manager in construction who oversaw the team of workmen putting in the water tank and so forth. He spent the whole day when he should have been at work, I’m so grateful and can’t believe how helpful he has been.

Am slightly worried about the fact that the lights in the house blink when the water is running but hey, I’m not complaining today, I'm off to have a disco in the bath!

Viva La Water!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Good Apples, Bad Apples..

I have scrapped my original blog for this post as it went on for pages and pages and it was all a huge big moan.

Today has been a bad day as a whole, it is my weekend and yet it has it been hardwork. 8:30am was my appointment to get my water fixed, the day has passed (Again! Please see blog entry for last Saturday 28/03) and still no proper running water. Lets just say, the experiences I have had with workmen today has left me feeling less like, "how many Irishmen does it take to change a lightbulb?" and more like "how many Libyan’s does it take to change a battery? "

When I eventually got out to buy some kitchen utensils I felt the wrath of the city centre yet again. Wearing a baggy t-shirt, baggy jeans AND a long cardigan, I still managed to attract too much attention. I was followed by random men who kept trying to talk to me (" I love you", "Sweet like honey", "Be my friend"), touch me, shouted at (one had the nerve to shout, "I'm slut, I'm slut" at me) and stared at me like I was an alien. Going to the shops in town is a huge ordeal and a major hassle, I don't want to become a recluse in my apartment but I can't see myself having the energy for such drama on my days off work.

I’m also thoroughly bemused and quite frankly "pissed off" by the fact that my phone number seems to have gotten in to the wrong hands somehow and I have over 10 numbers which I do not know who constantly call me up until all hours. Grrrrr....

Ok, out with the negative, I’m signing off before this turns in to the scrapped blog! But before I go, on a positive note, a wise woman once told me "There are bad apples and good apples on every tree" and right now this definitley applies....

It doesn't matter where you are in the world, there are good people and bad people everywhere.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Of All The Pet Shops In All Of The World..

"The one who just wanted out"
I dared to enter a pet shop in Tripoli today and I have to say, I am not impressed, in fact, I am horrified at the treatment of animals here. The picture you see above is a nice one, of a turtle posing for me, although still in desperation.

Entering the “pet shop” I was greeted by cages upon cages, each of which were filled with a variety of animals, one cage alone contained turtles, lizards and pigeons – all thrown in together. Those animals that misbehaved or caused problems were slaughtered, and right before my eyes was a massive rubbish bin, filled to the brim with bloodied animal bodies. The stench was overwhelming and the experience horrifying, as you can imagine, no further pictures were taken as I held my breath and clenched my stomach.

A day in the life of a Libyan Turtle

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Thank Goodness It’s...


Yes, it is Thursday and therefore the end of my week. Working hours and days are still not part of my mental routine and today it came as a nice surprise - while everyone was delighted that it was Thursday....I was still wishing it was Friday!

UNTIL...I realised that the weekend is finally here and for the next two days 6am is no longer a time which I am going to see...WOO HOOO!!!!

(In Libya, Friday is a Muslim Holy day which is kept strictly as Allah's day. Therefore our weekend is Friday and Saturday, Sunday is a normal working day and the beginning of the working week.)

How And Ever..I have booked myself in to work tomorrow, there is just SOOO much to do that the workload is on top of me and after my first ten days at work I’m terrified of being inadequate and losing my job (not a bad thing for me so I learnt throughout Uni – dreading the worst made me work harder, expecting an F and getting an A is a great feeling).
I have made a note of a few places which I’m intent on going to see eventually whilst I am here...why come to Libya and not see Libya??

The top four so far are:

Click on the links and you’ll see why!