Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas 2009 - Bedouin style

This is my second Christmas away from my kids. I miss them so much, especially this time of year. My friends here knew how hard it was for me, so they tried to make it special. What wonderful friends...

I woke up Christmas morning to sunny skies and a week of exceptionally warm weather, 25 degrees plus...

Christmas eve Mounir brought me my much awaited turkey. It was difficult to find a whole turkey in this part of the world. The butchers just get turkey pieces, because people here don't cook whole turkeys - most people don't have an oven anyway.

After asking at many shops, he convinced someone in Douz to part with one of their turkeys. After they killed it (thank you dear turkey for giving your life for my dinner), he brought it to my friend Khiria's home, where Khiria, Jamel and Mounir plucked and cleaned my Christmas bird (well, mostly Khiria!). It didn't look anything like the turkeys I have seen in Canada. It was VERY VERY free range! So he also brought me a large chicken so there would be enough meat. I was having ten (male) Bedouin friends over for 'traditional' Christmas dinner - all with healthy appetites! Remember, life is very traditional here - you can't have male and female friends over at the same time in the south, unless it is only one family - and generally women won't come for a visit in the evening anyway...

I had decorated my home for Christmas too - I have Christmas lights (that I brought from Canada) strung in my salon and up on my rooftop - even inside my bedouin tent! Last summer I had a bedouin tent made for my rooftop - and have enjoyed it so much - sitting inside drinking tea, smoking cheicha, it is one of my favourite areas of my home - much loved and much used.

We ate in my salon, it was so nice. After our delicious dinner of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes & gravy, tabouli salad, roasted squash with brown sugar and fresh local oranges we went up onto the rooftop, made a fire in my turkish kanoon, and enjoyed music played on the bendir, gasbya and dumbek, danced and had chocolate cake with tea made on the fire. A very sahara Christmas!

Enjoy the photos, remember you can double click to enlarge them! (The last photo is of my new solar panel for heating water!)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Baptism and wedding in Greece

In June I went to a village near Thessaloniki, Greece to have a visit with my friends, Joanna and Clint, and to attend the baptism and a few days later the wedding of some of their family. The family and friends were warm and welcoming, and as you can see, I fell in love with Joanna's mother and grandmother.... Enjoy the photos!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Gilssia in autumn

This is an excerpt from a recent writing. As difficult as it is sometimes, I cannot imagine ever living in a place again that does not include glancing up to see goats skipping giddily down the road. A place where 'normal' does not include passing camels as I ride my mobillete home at dusk. Where the setting sun is not larger and oranger than life, where old hunched women, stooped and crooked, carrying whatever, do not cross my everyday path. If I lived somewhere else, it must be where, once in awhile, a visit to a friend will include watching a new mother goat sniffing, licking and getting to know her brand new, straw and afterbirth covered babies as they shyly open their eyes and begin to discover their limp and awkward limbs.

I spent another winter Eid in Glissia, the first day with my friends, Kharia and Jamel and their family.

I forgot my camera in the morning, so I didn't get photos of the aloosh (lamb) that was killed.

Again, I sat and watched as they skinned the animal, that will feed the family for a long time. Much of the meat is preserved by salting it in a traditional way. In the second photo, you can see the fat and some intestines salted and hanging in the yard. This is a typical way families use every piece of meat.

Nothing gets wasted. Kharia roasted the lamb's head on a fire later in the afternoon. On the second day of Eid, at another home of dear friends, I watched while the mother spent almost an hour chopping and hacking the sheep head for a special soup with beans. The knife was imbedded in the head, and she had to hammer at it for a very long time until the strong bones of the head finally broke in two. The sound of the bone cracking is very intense. For my western ears, eyes and mind, this is a very very surreal experience. I am surprised at my ability to participate in this ritual. But these are dear friends, and it would hurt to be too shocked. As well, as I have said before, in the west, much worse things are done to animals before they are killed- we just not informed... Here, the animal has a happy, free life, then it is killed, halal, in a spiritual thankful and humane way.

A few days ago, I went to visit Kharia, and discovered that their goat had JUST had two babies. What a privilege to watch as Kharia checked the babies health, blew into the nostrils of one that wasn't breathing too well at first, and helped the mama to start to feed the babies. I took many photos, and included a few in this blog. Remember you can click on then to enlarge. Enjoy!