Regular blogging, what? The intention has not exactly been followed through, has it?
I've a couple of reasons for this: firstly, my home monthly internet is shockingly limited and I used it up within about 8 days of getting it, and haven't gotten around to getting more yet. But boring. Secondly, I've been busy!
Libya rocks. The chaos suits me. I like the way this country rolls. Namely to it's own beat. Because something is today, doesn't mean it'll be tomorrow.
Every work day starts with a smile as I get out of the taxi, feeling the sun on my skin, and looking at the sea spreading out in front of me, framed by a cloudless sky. Three of my working days finish early enough for me to go and swim in a private pool or hang out on a beach near my house. At the pool, I can sit around, not worrying about what I'm wearing, feeling the sun on my back and loving every second. At the beach, I'm a little more careful, but mainly because I don't want attention, and stay reasonably covered up (swimsuit under clothes kind of thing), but it's not a big deal. I can still work and be on the beach 15 minutes later.
I have a rooftop terrace too that I can hang out on without eyes seeing me. I'm not too bothered by the way I have to dress here – after all, I'm hardly a mini-skirt, tits-on-display kind of girl, but you do have to consider what you wear here as the dress code is generally conservative. The majority of women wear headscarves but hey – no need to worry about having a bad-hair day!
There are (mini-) buses to get around in, but the nearest flaggable spots (bus stop? what?) are about 15 or so minutes away, and more often than not other people in my building are going into work at the same time, so hopping into a passing taxi is the simplest thing to do. I'm getting a bank of drivers numbers which is useful at times, but generally there's no problems – other than getting to the private pool which is very secluded and not the easiest place to find. Every couple of weeks there are 'party' nights there where ex-pats can relax and not worry about local laws/customs too much. I hadn't expected this. It's fun!
Where I live is an area called Janzour, just outside of Tripoli. It's a popular area with splatterings of affluence around. The beach in Janzour is part of a tourist village, although it's been mainly Libyans there when I've been. It's now 'winter season' though, so come summer, who knows. 'Winter season' is not winter, just to be straight. It's still very much summer, although the evenings are getting chillier in the dead of night.
In Janzour, there are three apartment blocks of teachers in my company. We are very secure here. The blocks are spread out but walkable distance from each other. We have double locked doors at the entrance and a lovely Ghanian security guard to look after our every need from dusk to dawn. He took me shopping for some plants the other day. I'm actually trying to keep plants alive. I'm far more excited than I should be at this prospect. I've killed cacti and bamboo in the past. This is a real challenge but my apartment needed them. He also gets us to stop our night time taxis where he's standing in case there are any problems, finds us things like bathplugs that we can't find, snatches our shopping from us if we go shopping in the evenings and carries it up for us, cleans, irons.... awesome!
And I love my apartment. I love having a whole apartment to myself. I've never had this before. And it's all falling into place now I know where to get good chicken (good place for raw or another for spit roast) and veg and all other things I need. There's heaps of supermarkets and shops of varying sizes with a large array of European style things. Bread is obscenly cheap here. The other day I filled a carrier with bread rolls, pitta bread, flat bread, and it all came to under a pound. In shops, and some supermarkets, they don't have baskets, you just fill a carrier bag and take it to the till.
There's a lot of order to the chaos here.
I love my job. I love my students. I love working in an organised company. I teach four groups, each for 2.5 hours, twice a week. And I adore them. I also feel really lucky as I don't have any problem students but motivated learners that try hard and have personality! My lower classes are mainly Libyan, but my intermediate group has French, Turkish, Egyptian, Omani... and I adore the multi-cultural mixture.
I have a couple of late evenings and some of the students walk out to pray about 45 minutes into the lesson. I work around it.
When I'm not teaching, I wear another hat: I'm the Young Learners Co-ordinator. That means I'm part of middle-management. Me. I have to pretend to know what I'm talking about. And get my head around the multitude of duties involved (documents, meetings, too many emails, decisions...) whilst trying to get my head around my own classes and other things I need to do... like deciding whether to get involved in strange dance classes I've never heard of and probably can't do (zero sense of rhythm) but could be a lot of fun. And organising holidays. Of course. I mean I've been here ages now – over a month – so, naturally, I've decided where I'm going for all my vacations over the next 12 months. Could be worse. Could have planned them for two years!
I've joined the local archaeological society which organises lots of interesting trips to places that would otherwise be a bit awkward to get to.
Anyhoo, once I get the net again at home, the long promised pictures will be posted.
In the meantime, just picture a clear blue sky, green palm-type trees heavily weighed down with dates, black roads, sand, half-built / half-destroyed houses. Hand-scribbled signs, the sea, a clean swimming pool, a decent workplace, a nice apartment, me with tanned skin, lovely buildings, the sea, the sea, the sea... and the sun.
Right now, there's nowhere else I'd rather be.
* for Sanchia!