What a weekend.  Thursday night called for a shopping expedition to Souk Thalat.  As we walked through the doors we remembered that Thursday night was Family Night (just a head’s up - don’t even bother trying to get in on a Thursday night if you’re a single male, they wont let you in).  In theory, Family Night is a fantastic idea, but in practice, well just one word comes to mind.  Chaos.  For those who haven’t ventured that far, the third floor of the mall is fitted out with carnival rides, fast food restaurants and toy shops and on Thursday nights, families en masse.

Friday was the American Fall Festival; one of the highlights on the social calendar of children and adults alike in the city of Tripoli.  With an all-day-ride ticket in hand we watched our son climb the inflatable slide countless times before convincing him to take a break for lunch where we promptly stuffed our faces with hot dogs and Cotton Candy (or Fairy Floss as we Aussies like to call it).  A childhood indulgence not lost on the slightly more mature.

The festival ran smoothly and was testament to the enormous amount of work put in by the staff and overwhelmingly dedicated PTA (although we were disappointed not to walk out the gates with the free KLM tickets in hand.  Note to self - buy more raffle tickets next year).  If you missed out on getting to the Fall Festival this year make sure you mark it in the calendar for 2011 and keep an ear out for coming events put on by the American School.  You won’t be disappointed.

Now for the grand finale, and if you get in quick, you wont miss out on this one.  On Saturday we headed downtown to step on board the ‘Logos Hope’, the 12,500 tonne ship which is in port in Tripoli until the 1st of November.  It is open for visitors and contains the world’s largest floating book fair.  On board is a diverse selection of Arabic books and a wide range of English books. The books are priced at a reasonable rate to allow visitors the opportunity to take advantage of what is on offer; texts concerning professional development and career interests, individual development and personal growth, health, travel, cookery and children’s books.  There is something for everyone.  The ship works on a mission to bring ‘knowledge, help and hope to the people of the world.’  For many, it is their first ever opportunity to purchase good quality literature at a fraction of its retail value, in their own country.

The ship is staffed by smiling and enthusiastic volunteers of every nationality under the sun and their warmth is contagious.  And why wouldn’t they be happy?  The volunteers get to see the world, learn from the countries and cultures they visit and enrich the lives of those they meet.   Dr Aisha Al-Gaddafi, who was guest of honour at the opening of the ship’s book fair, described the ship by saying “the ship brings sunshine to our country.”  And it does.

The ship is in port in Tripoli until the 1st of November where she will then sail to Misurata, before ending her journey in Libya in Benghazi.  After that she sails to Egypt and continues her path along the Mediterranean shore.  Click here to see the schedule to ensure that you don’t miss out on the experience.  If you’re like me, you’ll leave with empty pockets, heavy shopping bags and a caffeine high.  Just about the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon in Tripoli I’d think.



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By Emma Parker

Sunday 24th October 2010

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