Sunday, January 09, 2005

Al Wahat?

e landed in Tripoli around four o’clock local time yesterday. Ali Sed was there to greet us, and all of the transport arrangements were made with surprising efficiency. There are to be eight of us at the Al Wahat, teaching at the ‘Cultural Centre’ 20 minutes drive west. The others, teaching at outlying posts were whisked off almost straight away. We were very impressed. Unfortunately the shine went off this morning when we waited an hour and a half for our transport to the Centre. Well, it’s early days I suppose.
My classroom’s spacious enough, although peculiarly L shaped. This morning I met the students, and made up a register. Then I asked them to talk about themselves, to break the ice. There’ll eventually be 17 in the class, and most of them I’ve taught before at earlier levels. Now they are starting ‘level 3’, aka pre-intermediate. There was no power at the Centre, and little natural light, so I finished early. The first day is always given over to hellos and admin. We’ll make a right start tomorrow.
The Hotel is just off Omar Mukhtar Street in central Tripoli. My room’s ok, except that it doesn’t have any kind of a view; so I’m going to try to get one with a balcony over the next few days. I’ve never stayed at this hotel or indeed in central Tripoli before now, so it’ll be a change of scene. The food and service seem pretty good so far. I need to get a new adaptor for my electrical toys to work: the only socket outside the bathroom is some kind of big old-fashioned Italian job.
The walls are paper thin.
There’s an international conference going on, and the hotel’s full of be-turbanned Sudanese. Telephones in the room are clearly a lot of fun for them, especially speaker-phones, and they use that facility to speak to their pals in other rooms… At least that’s what I assumed they were doing. Until the wee small hours. When the two lads in the next room eventually got off the phone, it all went quiet for a while and I drifted off myself. Then one of them started shouting in his sleep. Heigh ho. And once again I’ve forgotten to bring ear-plugs.
Mind you, some of them were very dramatic this morning in the lobby when we were waiting for our transport: uniforms, snow white headdresses, dark glasses. I wanted to get a photo, but haven’t got my multi-cultural confidence back yet.
Indeed, I’ve already had two rows with queue jumpers, because I’ve been home, where we of course patiently queue at any opportunity. Ineed to remember that I’m on their turf.
Our driver’s my old mate, Salim. He loves western music, especially soul, which he plays in the pick-up truck as he drives us to work; it lifts the spirits, of a morning.
Writing this in the room, on the laptop, as I usually will. Now I’m off to find an international ‘phone place, and internet café, so that I can phone home and post this via a floppy. Then I’m having an early night to sooth my bruised body clock, and so that I can come up smiling tomorrow.