Hosted by: Cynthia Swanson & Andrew Swanson

Once Upon A Time In Libya – Part 3

Several people have asked me to continue the story, so here you go…

First, though, I learned tonight that someone is reading my blog who I didn’t expect.  Today was their birthday and although I sent a token I hope arrived, I didn’t get a chance to talk to them myself.  So:

… Happy birthday, Sandy!

Now, on to Part 3 of the Libya saga.  (For anyone who hasn’t read the story thus far, you might want to read Part 1 and Part 2.  And by the way, this is a true story.)

Wheelus AB Libya -  Prop is from the B-24 'Lad...

Wheelus AB, Libya -- Image by Kemon01 via Flickr

After several months of my mother, two brothers and me living with my grandparents in their small house, I was excited to return to Libya.  After all, other than the scary part before we left, I had liked everything else.  I was happy to get back to my big room, with my new bedroom set, and our nice villa.  Only it didn’t work out like that.

When we returned, we were told that everyone had to live on base.  Our assigned housing for the five of us was a single-wide travel trailer in a trailer park.  Yes, it really was a travel trailer.  The trailer park had a mixture of trailers and mobile homes.  Each little plot had a little bit of grass, a lot of sand, and usually a white picket fence around it to make it seem more homey.

Our trailer had a bedroom at the back that fit a bed and that was it; a tiny bathroom; a little hallway that bisected bunk on one side, and cupboard storage on the other; a little travel kitchen, and living area with a booth table and a bench that stretched the width of the trailer.  Both of the latter could be converted into beds.  And that was it.

Privacy?  Not an option.  You could practically spit the length of the place–not that I tried.  Our only entertainment other than books and toys was a tiny black-and-white television, on which we received one hour of American programming a day.  The other times it was Arabic TV.  We probably had a radio, too, but I was a kid and didn’t care.

Between the kitchen and the little bathroom was two built-in bunks.  That’s where my brothers and I slept.  As I was the oldest, I got the top bunk.  My brothers shared the bottom bunk.

What I did care about was the tree on our little lot.   I don’t have a sense that it was a big tree, and this picture I found bears this out.  It had branches sturdy enough to climb and do all sorts of things with.  And it provided the only shade, which in 120 degree weather, was a good thing.

I loved climbing and sitting in that tree–even if I did wind up with both arms in slings because of it.

But you don’t want to read about that.  Let’s go back to life in a travel trailer.

Moving in was a shock.  There was so little room; it made my grandparents little house seem palatial, and the villa we once lived in seem like a palace.  Because it was furnished (a.k.a. built in), all of our personal belongings except the few things we absolutely needed had to be shipped to the states to be put into storage for when we returned.  Even my wonderful new double bed.

Instead, I got to sleep on the top bunk in the hallway.  My brothers had to share the bottom one.  I had a little window I could look out, which also let in some light–which wasn’t always a good thing, when you wake up in the dark, and see a black line moving up the wall by the foot of your bed, and then notice it is a line of ants halfway across the ceiling, only to drop down.  I don’t know what they were doing.  It was an Air Force base, so maybe it was some kind of ant paratrooper training, and jumping from the ceiling by my bed was the final test.  I just knew I was creeped out.  I couldn’t scream; it would wake my brothers up and I would get it trouble.  I think I tried blowing on them, and when that didn’t work, I rolled over and pretended that I never saw what I saw.

Anyway, that’s what life was like in the trailer.  For all the discomforts, it wasn’t bad–at least for a kid.  The trailer park happened to be a couple of blocks from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, which is the yardstick I use to measure every ocean I’ve ever seen since.  The only one to come close is the waters off Waikiki.

Things settled into a routine and we got used to our life–until the day my mom had to be shipped to a hospital in Wiesbaden, Germany.

Categories: Random Thoughts

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