A Travellerspoint blog

1984

sunny 21 °C

I have stumbled upon StumbleUpon. More specifically, my brother did and told me about it, and it's saving my 'stay at home mommy' sanity. Remember, a few posts back when I talked about getting lost in those interweb rabbit holes? Yeah. This nifty little tool helps get you out of them.

The thing I like about this one is that it feels 'safe'. Having just erased all my cookies and reduced all of my Facebook privacy settings to 'friends only' after reading a particularly scary Erinpost (she knows who she is) about the depth the internet goes to 'knowing' stuff about you, I think something like StumbleUpon is a breath of fresh air.

I'm not totally ignorant of the fact I'm busy creating a lovely profile for some advertiser or stalker with the right kind of hacker skills by accessing any of the things I do on-line. But I have come to accept that unless I want to be a hermit who lives off the grid, these little invasions of personal space are no longer something we can opt out of entirely - without a brain the size of a planet that is geared to diverting servers and routers through other countries (etc. I don't pretend to know what I'm talking about, I just know it is possible to hide your electronic signature if you're techie enough).

Anyway, have a look at StumbleUpon. If your brain needs stimulation and change as often as mine seems to, it will change your life.

Now. The reason I'm writing a blog about invasion of privacy, is because I live in a country where everyone is monitored. Big brother really is listening and watching here. This knowledge is open source information, but I personally know this because I have experienced the phone getting cut off mid-conversation if any number of trigger words are said. "Israeli Spy" is a particularly good one (random conversation about getting stopped at checkpoints… not at all dodgy when taken in context!). I also suspect my emails and Skype conversations get scanned, to a lesser extent, so anyone I'm speaking to on line, be aware!

My point, is that while they are an awful lot more obvious about it here, this happens everywhere. Even at home. We would be totally naive to think that our safe little Pacific Island paradise is less electronically invasive than anywhere else. I almost prefer knowing about it like we do here because its so blatant. It seems more honest somehow.

Yes, I do realise it's a bit 'conspiracy theory', and I would question if we have anywhere near the same coverage at home, but… it's something to think about.

Posted by karicketts 10:00 Comments (1)

The problem with the power

This might be it...

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Posted by karicketts 11:22 Comments (0)

March 30th

overcast 13 °C

Yesterday was a significant day. It was Land Day, something I knew nothing about before coming to live here. Google it (wikipedia has good info), it is something you should know a little about if you're interested in the area. Briefly, for those that are lazy, it remembers the day that Palestinians lost their land to the state that became Israel - more specifically, the death of six Palestinians in Israel. It is an international day, not just for Palestinians in the immediate region.

Previous Land Days, and other memorials of this nature have seen scary, violent protest. Recently, (not on a Land Day, but another significant day), there was a march to the border by a number of Palestinians living outside Israel. It was supposed to be peaceful, but some agitators challenged the wire (across a mine field) and were shot, illustrating in part how serious the whole situation continues to be.

Like many of the conflicts around the world, I really don't understand much about the intricate politics involved, which means I'm not (at all) qualified to comment on it… but, living in a country with all this going on meant I was thinking about it quite a bit yesterday. It makes me sad for both sides. I mean, I've always know about Israel and the struggle to create the state. The other side of the story was something I understood not at all - despite having studied it in high school. Perhaps it's just less well publicised.

Anyway, since arriving here and learning about the thousands of displaced Palestinians living in the conditions they do, I really couldn't understand where their will to continue comes from. I drive past quite a large Palestinian camp on my way to the flash expensive supermarket (the irony is not lost on me) and it looks like a grim way to live. If it were me I would feel fairly depressed about the whole deal and would really struggle to find reasons to bring children into an environment as bleak as it appears. But the human spirit is impressive in its ability to hope. It occurred to me that perhaps they see it as temporary. That eventually they will be allowed to go back to the land they used to call home.

Sound familiar?

I suppose people's motives are their own, but it makes you focus on the individual sadness that is created from the fallout of politics like those happening in the middle east. I would love to sit down with a Palestinian and discuss how they feel about it, but the only one I know is Miesa, and she doesn't speak English. I'm not even sure if its something she would be comfortable discussing with me.

Anyway, as it was Land Day, the advice was to stay inside and not do much just in case... completely disregarding this, the Argentinian, the Chilean, one of the Irish ladies, me - and our gaggle of children - took a stroll along the Corniche and had a lovely lunch overlooking the mediterranean. It 'felt' safe.

Luckily, absolutely nothing happened here in Tyr yesterday. Nothing out of the ordinary. Being a Friday (a weekend) there were lots of people driving around, but that is normal for a Friday. It was a beautiful day out. Warm and sunny. Not much wind. The port was busy and smelt of fish as usual. The souk was noisy and also smelt of fish - as usual. It was full of people doing their shopping. The ten year old hustler selling gum was annoying the people in the souk as usual. The waitress asked if she could take a photo of my children (which involved picking them up and taking them for a walk around the restaurant) as usual.

Life just goes on.

Posted by karicketts 03:47 Comments (1)

Songs about rainbows

sunny 22 °C

Humans choose to record pretty things. Why is it that we spend our thinking lives fascinated by the grotesque and ugly, but we only immortalise the best parts of the world in Art?

I think we do this because we want the generations that follow to think the best of us. It's like the way that the victor of a battle gets to write the History. His Story. My husband thinks it has more to do with our fallibility, the inherent desire to make ourselves out to be better than we really are. Either way, there is a common theme.

Why is this relevant? I guess I don't want people to think that I'm making this wee jaunt out to be better than it is. This is an awesome adventure, absolutely. But being a single mum over 50% of the time sucks. You should know that some days I don't leave the apartment - or talk to another adult. At all. I get up, look after my kids, watch a couple of episodes of 'How I met your mother', 'Game of Thrones' (or whatever the pirated T.V series I happen to be obsessed with that day is), and I die a little bit inside because I'm so ridiculously uninspiring. Some days, the highlight of my day is getting our 1989 Jeep Cherokee (nicknamed 'the lemon') to start first pop. Some days it's watching my sons work out how to vandalise their play-mat by ripping it apart and eating it. I'm proud of myself that I have a shower every day and get into clothes that aren't track-pants and a hoodie. It really is the little things.

I am, actually, ecstatic I convinced Hayden this 'coming to Lebanon' thing was a good idea. I don't think I could have coped being 'just' a mum at home (I should note that I'm NOT taking anything away from my friends at home who are doing the hard yards - or anyone else out there who isn't a little bit insane like me!)… but I know that I would have gone stir-crazy without the added stimulation of being somewhere 'interesting' that has a bit more of a challenge than sticking to the Sleep, Eat, Play schedule with two people who haven't learnt how to talk yet. I'm just not very good with that kind of predictability. Kind of like the way I think having twins rocks, rather than thinking it's difficult because you have to do everything twice.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my children. What I don't love is spending every minute of every day pandering to the whims of two miniature noise machines who haven't actually worked out what it is they really want half the time. My kids are little angels by the way, and I'm very lucky they are such good lads… but even good babies have days when they get out of the wrong side of the cot.

I think lots of women struggle with becoming a mother. Particularly those of my generation who have been led to believe that the world is their oyster and ALL things are possible. There is too much choice, and I really wasn't looking forward to having all that choice taken away from me when I had kids. I thought I'd end up mouldering away feeling resentment that my life was effectively over. It wasn't true. Life doesn't end, a whole new set of things just become more interesting. Personally, for the first time, I feel like my life really has purpose and I'm not just existing for entirely selfish reasons. There is something entirely satisfying about falling in to bed at 8pm and knowing that your day was a success, just because you got to spend time with your kids and teach them something new. Love (the unconditional kind you feel for your children) does, indeed, change everything. It did for me anyway.

What do I want to achieve by writing a blog? I DO actually want it to be 'pretty' if I'm honest. I have a terrible memory for the day to day things that happen in my life and I think its important that there is a record I can share with my boys when they ask about their lives in Lebanon when they are older - something that's a bit more interesting than "mummy didn't want to be bored at home"... but you have to remember that all of this is just my point of view. I write well because I've spent my life with my nose buried in a book and I love words (how boring!), but sometimes I get a bit carried away with my own self importance - and it probably shows.

So. I'd like to remind you that everyone has a different reality. They have to. Its part of being human... and I'm only sharing the interesting bits.

p.s. Today was a great day. I made it out out the apartment - and FINALLY got the copy of the report for our lost passports. I got the flat tyre on the car fixed, which was a wee adventure on its own. I also finalised my plans for ANZAC day at Gallipoli and paid for the trip. AND we got invited to a Lebanese wedding. Win.

Posted by karicketts 10:52 Archived in Lebanon Comments (1)

Talking about the weather

overcast 17 °C

When I thought of Lebanon - before coming here - I imagined continuous heat. I expected there to be sand; a vista of desert like the one they talk about in the bible. Wrong (cue cheesy game-show buzzer sound).

Tyr, as it turns out, does have lots of golden sand, but its on the beach. I do, in fact, live in a resort town. The Lebanese come here in the summer to picnic and enjoy the Mediterranean… the Lonely Planet guidebook tells me the beaches here are the only decent, clean (relative term) public beaches in Lebanon. It would be a little bit like living at the mount in New Zealand, but without the hot surfer dudes.

The landscape around us is fairly hilly, but covered in rocks and scraggly scrub. The legendary Lebanese Cedar trees haven't been seen in these parts for quite some time. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find a decent tree that doesn't have an orange growing on it for miles. Interestingly, the Lebanese have a very 'modern' view on food miles and much of the local produce I find in the grocers on my block (bananas, oranges, mint etc) is literally grown within a 20 minute walk of my home. I'm told the lack of trees is due to the fact they were all burnt for fuel some time ago. It's a shame. It makes it look an awful lot like its been extensively defoliated using something horrible like agent orange (which it hasn't). Extensively JDAM'd might be a bit closer to the truth though sadly.

As for the heat, at present the temperature ranges from about 10 at night to about 20 degrees during the day. There is a cold wind from the ocean which can make things seem considerably colder in the shade. Apparently the heat is coming. In the summer it gets excessively hot. Tyr also has a mosquito problem in the summer, which is somewhat less exciting. My sweet blooded husband and children are already feeling their effects, but the buggers have left me alone so far (Hamdallah!). After finding a particularly nasty insect had taken a walk up Bens' forehead, we now have mosquito nets draped over the cots… trying to work out a way to attach them to the ceiling without doing anything permanent to annoy the landlord slightly more of a puzzle.

Having just said it's not that hot yet, I'm having some issues with the required dress standard here already. Shortie shorts aren't done on women (Nic, you would hate it here!). This reality is contradictory to the information I was given at home about women wandering about wearing crop tops in Beirut in the late 90's (mind you, it was the 90's, and it was Beirut. Things are a bit more conservative here in the south). If I'm honest, it's a great lesson in peer pressure and understanding why women wear the ḥijāb. I've been told it isn't actually the men (who will leer, but usually do nothing overly threatening), it's the women who spit at you for being a dirty uncovered whore. I'm not sure how far I want to push this, but I suspect the heat may do the pushing for me later on when it gets really hot… perhaps the spit will help cool me down? I did ask a Lebanese friend what the covered women do in the summer. The answer? 'Smell'.

Tomorrow, I'm booking flights to Turkey to spend ANZAC day at Gallipoli. I'm going alone, H has already wandered the battlefields and the overnight on the hill on the 24th seemed a little too difficult to deal with, with two eight month olds' in tow.

I'm actually unsure if I'm more looking forward to actually being THERE on ANZAC day, or leaving my sons alone with their dad for FIVE WHOLE DAYS.

Knowing him though, I'll come home to find he's managed to teach them how to read and walk in my absence. Dammit.

Posted by karicketts 13:16 Archived in Lebanon Comments (3)

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