Monday, July 30, 2012

Out of sight, out of mind.

I have been in Libya for a month now and as far as I can tell, the vast majority of physical traces of Gaddafi's regime are gone. All the pictures that once plastered the country have now been removed and of course his fortress Bab AlAzizya crushed. Gaddafi is irrelevant here. Its so refreshing that there is a consensus amongst everyone to move forward and think only of the future. Very rarely do I hear people even discussing him. Conversations are filled with debates about the new governments composition or what the new Libya requires to thrive. No better way to put something behind you then to put it out of sight, thus making it out of mind. That is just what Libyans have done here with any remaining traces of Gaddafi.

Drive behind any car in Libya and you'll find one of two things: a license plate completely missing (which bothers me but I'll leave that for another post) or a license plate that has the words ''Jamahariya'' blacked out.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Libya Votes

Its been sixty years since Libyans were last able to lend their voices to shape the body that governs them. After a 42 year dictatorship and 1 epic revolution later Libyans are finally at the polls. Only 9 months after declaring complete liberation from Gaddafi's iron fist, Libyans queued in lines, single file may I add, for their chance to be heard. Although polls opened at 8am, lines began to form as early as 6am.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Zawia Part 2

The main battle for Zawia took place in the Meydan or square downtown. The damage around this area is nothing short of devastating. Buildings are in one of two states: demolished or beyond repair and need to be demolished. In the area of the Meydan I didn't see a single building that could simply be repaired, everything will need to be completely rebuilt.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Zawia Part 1

Zawia is a town 42 miles due West of Tripoli. It suffered attacks by Gaddafi troops on multiple occasions and had to be liberated twice. The beating it took was nothing short of devastating. Women were raped, hundreds martyred and the Gaddafi militas even demolished a Mosque. If you have not seen the report of SkyNews reporter Alex Crawford from March 9, 2011, 20 days into the revolution, you can find it here. By watching the video, you will better absorb how devastating the aftermath really is.

To enter the city of Zawia you must pass under this check point that was erected by liberation forces once the city was captured. Yes, it is made from shipping containers. This is the original check point and probably will remain. I presume an official structure of some sort will be built. Im not sure how ascetically pleasing shipping containers are.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Welcome To Libya

I dont even know how to start this post. I wrote three different intros, backspaced, and started again. I can't begin to explain my feelings. Libya nothing short of amazing. The second I saw the coastline, I started bawling; I couldn't help it. It all came rushing back to me, all the scenes of fallen youth, screams of women, and explosions. I thought how I was up in the sky flying just like those helicopters that used anti-aircraft bullets to kill civilians. I was filled with pride remembering the resiliences and determination of the Libyan people.

First glimpse of Libya from the air

Monday, June 25, 2012

Turkish Airlines

Three flights, 6 hours in-transit, 17 hours in flight, 3 disgusting airplane meals later I am in a Free Libya. Its amazing. Before I begin to explain how fast and hard I fell in Libya all over again, I want to take a minute to tell you about the long trip to get here.

When I was searching for tickets I was advised multiple times to fly Turkish Airlines. Three people on three different occasions told me how absolutely fantastic their food and service was. Im not going to lie, as a foodie I was excited to eat Turkish food. If you were to look up the word 'Fail' in the dictionary, my experience on Turkish Airlines would be there. Apparently with Turkish Airlines you have to pay extra for smiles and other pleasantries like ''Your welcome.''

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Let it begin

I am finally packed. This has to be the most accomplished thing I've done this calendar year. I strategically listed, purchased, packed, and weighed all of the necessities to take to Libya. It was no easy task. There were hours of internal debate and dialogue as I mentally listed all of the things I could and could not live without. Left behind was fancy organic body washes  but I refused to go without bug spray and a Tide pen. I told myself I could live with only 4 pairs of shoes but I took 24 Hijabs.

There is a delicate balance when packing: take everything you can't get in Libya, mostly consumable goods, but don't go over 50lbs. I have to say, it took some skill and talent on part to compromise the two. Alhamdulilah the stress of that is finally over and Im ready to head to Libya.

My feelings and emotions are so mixed right now. I am equal parts excited and anxious mixed with some sadness. Excited to finally be able to get to Libya after the revolution, be on the ground, see a new Libya and be able to lend a hand and help build a better Libya. Anxious because Im not sure of the reception I will get as an expat Libyan. In the past this hasn't been an issue but I have heard of many incidences were Libyans looked down upon expats because they weren't physically in Libya during the revolution, thus not suffering as locals. Finally, I am sad because I will go to a Libya that did suffer so much. I am reminded of all the young men and women who lost their lives. The mothers who have no more sons. The wives that are left as widows, the children that are now orphans. As elated as I am for Libya's freedom, never will I forget the cost that was paid to insure it.

So this is it. Im packed, the car loaded and at 6am tomorrow morning I am off. Summer 2012 in Libya, let it begin!