In the ten days that we waited for JG to come back from assisting in evacuating Filipinos in the Tunisian Libyan border, my MIL (Mother-in-Law) and I mostly stayed indoors. It was like I said before mostly quiet the whole time we were there; (except for one incident where we thought there was a gunfight outside our door but turned out to be kids playing with fireworks) and I for one was really grateful that nothing really traumatic happened to us.
In truth, prior to the unrest, I mostly stayed in the house anyway. The city was too far away for a car-less individual such as me, and unless I needed to buy something I busied myself with my books, house chores, and whatever else I can think of doing in the house. The only difference during those two weeks was the threats and scary possibilities brought about by the unfolding civil war (as the news were beginning to call it). There were some reports of lawlessness, or that you should be careful God forbid a stray bullet hits you, especially on Fridays where they would often state in the news that protests were being planned. Once again, all these were things I hear on the news, to which I was thankfully spared, perhaps because I did stay in the house, or perhaps I was just really one of the lucky ones – I don’t know.
But then again, there comes a point when you had to get out, if only to escape going insane from cabin fever. As days passed, I would slowly regain the courage to look out the windows for longer periods, even at night. Pretty soon I’d spend some afternoons writing or reading out on our porch for a little sun. I stopped myself from analyzing the news so much and took my cues from the activities outside my door. The sky would be blue and birds chirping away while my landlord’s kids would be playing football in their yard, the small store in front of our house would be open all day, men and women would be passing by casually walking and chatting away like they always do each day.
The day before things got bad, I got the chance to stock up for our daily needs. But since I did not know what would transpire the next day, I took for granted some things, thinking that I could always go out tomorrow for them. Such essentials included vegetables, and the day when the unrest erupted, immediately the vegetable store at the corner street nearest to my house was closed and did not open ‘til the day I left. (They say the Egyptians were mostly the main vegetable proprietors in town, so I presumed that my produce guy was Egyptian and fled with all the rest of his countrymen). So for about the first week I could feel my body quench for some essential vitamins and minerals brought only from fruits and vegetables, plus we needed some other needed ingredients just in case JG comes back.
So I asked my MIL if she wanted a bit of fresh air, and perhaps being cooped up in the house was straining her as well, she did not blink and said yes. So out we went.
The following is something I wrote in my journal when we were still in Libya, on the things I observed when my MIL and I went out to find some needed nutrients, but once again before you go on reading, I must once again reiterate and emphasize the disclaimer. The views written on this post and this blog are mine alone and are not shared or represented by my husband or the Philippine Embassy in any way.
March 3, 2011; Tripoli, Libya:
My MIL and I went outside today to try and look for some vegetables. This will be our first out the bounds of our neighborhood since we arrived. And to my surprise a lot of the stores around the streets were in fact open, and to my relief we found a produce store a few minutes away. I wondered as we were strolling along if the locals living there and their neighborhood was mostly a pro-Ghadafi area. Maybe this is why they seem to be trying to get on with their lives. But there is also the thought they might be neither pro nor anti. Perhaps I thought they were all just ordinary civilians who just really want to live in peace (figuratively and litteraly), however way they can. I continue to think to myself that if this were happening to my country, I would be like them, stuck in a crisis I did not want nor asked for, something I wish did not have to happen.
Then again although everything seems normal, it is not what it seems. There are little things I noticed that seemed off, things that are unusual, which I can only account to the unrest that is ripping this country apart. For example, everyone seems to be in a hurry, and to be honest there seem to be too many out in about early in the day. When things were normal, usually Libyans do their errands at night, when the climate is much cooler, and everything seems to be in full swing, but apparently not these days.
The vegetable shop we found we found is hardly selling fresh produce, the ones we got are already looking a bit tattered, they were still okay but not the freshest bunch. There was a long queue at the bakery we passed. Bread is an important part of the Libyan’s diet, a staple in their meals, but a long line in the afternoon is not something you see every day. The groceries, although business as usual seems to be feeling some heat as well; the shelves are not empty but they are not well stocked either. I even got the sense that the proprietors are just waiting for their goods to run out.
We come inside and I give a silent prayer that we were able to come out okay, seems a bit paranoid I know but would it be different for someone else? At least not I can make a proper veggie omelet, and put some green leaves in my soup.
Update: News states that the government is continuing to conduct air raids in some parts of Eastern Libya in a town called Al-Brega. Meanwhile the International Criminal Court are beginning an investigation against the Ghadafi regime for crimes against humanity. They say it will take some time, but adds that they will be impartial and will watch the rebel forces’ actions if they too are violating human rights as well.
Almost another week past, and I continued to pray that things stay quiet in our side of the country, or at least in our side of the city, thankfully my prayers were heard until I finally leave for my safety.