We recently gone through our first 24 hours here in Libya, and so far things are surprisingly better than I expected.
Let me first say that a huge part of our speedy settling here in Libya is due to the very heart-warming assistance of the Embassy’s staff. From our arrival at the airport, they have been guiding us from the simplest of driving us around to helping us find a house.
There are a lot of things that I am happily surprised to know when I got here. First is that locals are really friendly, and always greet you with a smile. Especially the owner of the house we are planning to live in during our stay here. We was very welcoming and nice, when we agreed to take the house I was a bit startled when he gave me the keys, even though we haven’t signed or paid him anything.
Another great thing about Libya is that almost everything we thought we would find difficulty buying here is available. Like Deodorants of a particular brand or food. And the best part is, prices are reasonable, cheaper even compared to prices back at home.
Food is also great here in Tripoli, aside from the Mediterranean foods like Kebabs and such, Italian influences have also made Pizzas etc, available everywhere.
And finally, I was relieved to find out that dress codes for women are not that strict here compared to their Muslim countries. One of my aunts who used to work in Riyadh, told me once that she had to swim in her jeans complete with head scarf when they went out for a day in the beach. Although most women I see here cover their hair and wear long sleeved shirts and ankle long skirts, I am assured that they don’t expect foreigners like me to follow. Although I refrain from wearing sleeveless and tight shirts, skirts that do not reach my knees, and shorts.
Although there are still a few set-backs on my part. One most importantly is the fact that I don’t speak a single arabic. I am working on my common phrases but am far far away from being fluent. Yesterday, I stopped by a small grocery with one of JG’s staff. I think she’s a regular customer there so she and the Libyan storekeeper knew each other a little. She introduced us in english and continued their conversation in Arabic. I knew she was talking about how I was new in the country and about JG’s work, as she was often pointing towards me and mentioning words like “embassy” and “vice consul”. So as they were happily chatting away, I was standing between them with a big smile on my face but otherwise completely blank to show any other expression.
My unfamiliarity with the Arabic language is also keeping me from my quest to go around and familiarize myself with the place. Normally, I am very adventurous when it comes to places new to me, but I’ve always relied on the fact that I can always ask around should I get lost. But I’m counting on, believing that locals are very helpful and nice to strangers, which is hopefully proven in the future.
And in a smaller dilemmas, most of my gadgets sockets are not compatible to the plugs here so I can’t charge most of them including my camera (thus the lack of posted pictures, but will follow) and my laptop. Good thing the concierge at the hotel we are staying in was nice enough to lend me his charger when my phone’s battery started to dwindle. The heat and the dust, is something I can’t really do anything about. Some of the many things I must learn, now that I am a Diplomatic Baggage here in Libya.