Here we are again, the end of one month and the dawn of another. So much has happened at the Caterpillar Cafe in the last 5 months. We had 5 day/wk Freeplay to 4 day/wk English, monthly pass down to daily pass and now moms and kids under 1 enter free of charge. I was told nobody would put their kids in an apartment to play, but they were wrong. I was told nobody would pay to sit and watch their kids play, but they were wrong. I was told, Libyans only care about getting a baby sitter and English classes, but they were wrong. I was told expats and Libyans wouldn’t want to sit in the same room and chat with each other, but they were wrong. I didn’t believe them, not all the way. Because although I know old habits die hard, I do feel there are honest needs that aren’t being met here, and this was my way of meeting them. Libyans and foreigners came, they saw the space and they let their kids play, they paid for their time there and every single kid that came only left after their mom agreed to bring them back to play again. The kids loved it, the moms that took the time to sit and soak it all in alongside their kids enjoyed it as well. Some made lasting friendships. Some went out and told all their friends about it. And some didn’t. And that’s fine, because it’s not for everyone, and I respect that. English classes were an add-on, but ended up being the main focus for a few months. But now school is at its last leg and we are starting with Freeplay again. This time there are no monthly fees, sessions are daily, mornings and afternoons, 6 days per week and even when crafts are going on, the other kids can still play freely. If anyone needs English help, they can call me and book ahead, so I can put aside time for them. Flexibility is the word. I wish I had a big garden with an enormous tree for kids to climb, sand pits and a mud kitchen, a little water station, real tools for kids to tinker with and grass as well as plenty of space for kids to run around in. I don’t. This is what I can offer, and I gave it my 100%, my kids and I shared everything we have and plenty of our time and it paid off. We made some new friends, the kids and I always have a magical place to go to when we’re sick of staying at home and daddy can’t take them out. I have managed to paint and craft and read more than I could have ever imagined, because my kids were too busy playing in any one of the other rooms and I actually had the space and time and didn’t have to look at dirty dishes to wash, laundry to iron and whatever else and could fully put my mind on my project and my kids. NOTHING ELSE! And this is the main reason why I embarked in this. I counted the money I had saved up through my part time jobs over the years and decided that THIS was something worthwhile and I would gladly put all of it into it if it meant peace of mind for my kids and me and whoever else wanted to join us. I couldn’t afford to buy fancy furniture or rent a villa, this is what I could afford and it was extremely convenient, and convenience when you have 4 kids under 10 means it’s doable. So I leaped at it, and I am so happy we did. If nothing else can be drawn from this experience thus far, I know I have done everything I could have possibly dreamed of and gave it my all, I know I have gotten to love this special time away from my home, even if it did mean going to another apartment and not to a spa. I know my kids loved the idea of it and still, even 6 months after acquiring the space, they ask me daily if they can play at the Club (it’s the mom and kid club), and when we go they PLAY. The word to describe this is SPENSIERATEZZA, which is Italian and means without worry, without thought, but not careless, and full of joy and freedom. This is the treasure we’ve gained. No matter what goes on outside, whether school had to be cancelled due to strikes or the security situation, whether there was shooting in the city or not, we could just make this trip and feel SPENSIERATEZZA. And here, in Tripoli, in 2014, this is a gift. And we are grateful! Thank you to all who have contributed in one way or another, joined us through play, crafts or classes or even just for a chat, thank you for believing with us and sharing, somehow, this adventure with us. It has been a pleasure!