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Something Extraordinary Happened: It really is a small world after all

Before I went back to Libya last September, I noticed an advert in the local newspaper about a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training course. It looked interesting for more than a reason or two. Above all, I liked the idea of learning how to be prepared in case of an emergency. I wanted to do something for my community, to help others and meet people. Also, I thought that this would be a way to learn about civic programs that might one day be useful should Libya ever become peaceful again and needed to rebuild – maybe I could help in some way, or maybe I’m grasping at straws, but it didn’t really matter because that wasn’t my sole reason for becoming involved. I emailed to see if there was any space left on the course. Unfortunately, the course was full, so I asked to be put on a list for the next course. Then I became busy with travel preparations and my trip back to Libya so I shelved the idea for a while.

After I returned to Florida I was notified that the next CERT train…

Recovery

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Mom's had more surgery since I last posted. All went well this time, and she is home recovering. We're mostly staying home and mom gets a bit stir crazy from sitting in the house all the time. Occasionally we go out, but we're pretty much limited to places that have motorized scooters because mom can only walk for a few minutes and then has to sit down. We have a wheelchair, but mom doesn't like to use it. She says it's low and she has to crane her neck upwards to see things. Apart from the scooter issue there is the problem that mom has difficulty hearing so that limits what we can do too. 
We try to keep mom as comfortable as possible. To make life a bit easier we got her an electric lift-recliner. She's been having trouble getting in and out of her chair so we hoped this would help. The only problem is that she hasn't been able to learn how to use the remote control for the chair. It has two buttons... up... and down. Push the up button and the chair pu…

LIBYA: 17th February Anniversary Six Years On

The following article was written in collaboration with my friend and colleague, Susan Sandover who is the author of the book ‘Libya a Love Lived a Life Betrayed 9/36’ 
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Daily we (an American mother with a Libyan husband and a British Libyan widow) read, hear and see the ongoing tragedy and horror of the war in Syria and yet Libya barely warrants a mention in the British and American press. It seems as if the Libyans are the forgotten. Photos and video footage are seen periodically of migrants being saved in the Mediterranean but we have yet to read an article on the potential tinderbox situation in Libya.
The 17th February marks the anniversary of the commencement of the fight to overthrow Gaddafi but will this date warrant a mention in the international media? Most likely NO. The war finished quickly in just 8 months. Today what remains is the daily episode of the Libyan Game of Thrones represented by an assortment of grey-haired men in their expensive suits with allegiance …

A busy start to the year

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So far 2017 has been a whirlwind. In my last post, which was about a month ago, I mentioned that my mother was scheduled to have surgery. She checked into the hospital as planned for what we thought would be morning surgery and home by the afternoon. 
Unfortunately there were complications. She had a reaction to some of the medicine that was used and went into anaphylactic shock. Her blood pressure dropped to almost nothing and then when they gave her other medicines to help with that her BP went sky high - her blood pressure was up and down, up and down. She also started to develop pneumonia. She was in ICU for two days while they stabilized her blood pressure, but to complicate things the steroids she was given caused her to go into steroid psychosis. 
Psychosis.... another word for crazy. She didn't sleep for 3 days straight. The whole time hallucinating that she was in Paris, in California, at a spa, there were water taxi's floating past the window and hundreds of dogs on…

Ending up 2016

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The end of the year is fast approaching. When I look back it seems like it was a long year, but it passed so quickly. Since we got back to Florida it seems I have been running non-stop. 
First, there was Ibrahim to get settled in school. He's been changed to a different school, this time one that hopefully has a program suitable for him that will address his autism and ESOL issues. After a bit of a runaround, he finally started, but only a week before the Christmas break, so we won't know how things really go until he goes back after the holidays. 
Mom had a whole slew of doctor appointments, check-ups and tests scheduled for when I returned. Some of which had positive results, but unfortunately, there was the disappointing news from the cardiologist that an artery in her left leg has a blockage that needs to be cleared, so next week she is scheduled for surgery. I'm glad that I'm here to help my mother through this. It's a bit overwhelming and right in the middle…

The Challenges of Traveling to/from Libya

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When it was time to start planning our trip back to Florida there was so much planning to do. There were so many decisions and choices to make. The trip going to Libya had been difficult and there had been the unpleasant experience with the airline losing my bags. Even though the luggage wasfinally recovered (one bag after 18 days!) it was still a big hassle. I decided to fly a different airline - this time going via Tunis and Frankfurt on Lufthansa. It worked out being the cheapest flight too.
But how to get to Tunis? Which airline should we use to fly out of Tripoli? I had flown Libyan Airlines and Afriqiyah in the past, but had only heard of Libyan Wings. There are a few other airlines but these three seem to be most popular - but which was the most reliable? I wanted to be on time and I most definitely did not want to have lost luggage again. I decided to throw out some  polls on social media to see what people thought. The results were quite surprising. 

The poll on Facebook sho…

Learning a Lesson in Cultural Differences

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In America when you go on vacation you might stop to pick up a few souvenirs and some postcards to send your friends and family. No one expects you to bring them back anything. If you do it's appreciated, but it's definitely not expected. It's different in Libya. Traditionally, when you have been traveling you should bring back gifts for your family and friends. You don't have to go overboard, something simple will suffice. Everyone expects something. Unfortunately, with the amount of relatives, even getting something small and inexpensive adds up - you have to consider the amount of money (the dollar very high now) and space in the suitcase (23 kilo limit). Over the years I've mostly dispensed with the gift giving with the exception of getting something for my mother in law - she always gets presents.
This time, before I came back I asked her if there was anything she needed or wanted. She requested body lotion and hand cream. She said only cheap imitation toilet…