Last week was the big Eid. It’s like the Christmas of Islam in terms of the celebration and importance of the day. That means that there is break from school! My friends and I took a trip to the sea. The break couldn’t have come at a better time. The trip was so much fun. The sea was great, but the best part was the company. I was with a very fun group of people.
My roommate and I took the bus up with one of her co-workers. It was about a 10 hour bus ride. So, I got to see a lot of the landscape. Desert, semi desert, some mountains, acacia trees, and lots of goats, camels, and donkeys. The bus stopped a few times along the way and at one such stop I encountered the most interesting toilet situation I have to date. The walls were about chest height, there were 3 ‘stalls’ and in each stall was a tennis ball sized hole in the ground. Too small in my opinion as the surrounding wet ground revealed other ladies poor aim. Now, I’m pretty adept at using a squatty potty. It’s no problem. However, the interesting part was that there were no sort of doors or cover over the stall so all the other ladies walking by could see you. And one of the stalls had holes in the wall. But not so bad that I didn’t use it when we stopped on the way back home.
My roommates co-workers husband had set up a place for us to stay. It was a nice, pretty cheap room on the first floor of this mans house, with air con(!!!) and a fridge and little gas burner. (And a few not-so-soft beds). Our friends ended up staying at the same place as well.
The first day of Eid with the help of some locals we managed to find a nice beach far from the road and on a path made of dirt and coral rocks. We were there for hours and had it all to ourselves. The beach was amazing. Red Sea as far as the eye could see. Full of coral, fish, shells, little rays. I spent the majority of the day collecting cool pieces of coral and playing with hermit and sand crabs. I love ecosystems! Yeah, I’m still 8 years old apparently. It was nice to forget, for a few hours, that I wasn’t in the desert. A little mental escape.
This Eid requires each family to slaughter and eat a sheep. So the people who run the place we were staying gifted us that morning with a leg of sheep. Thankfully they had taken (most) of the fur off. So that night for dinner we cooked it up. Probably the toughest meat I have ever eaten. But we still enjoyed the meal!
|Our sheep leg.|
The feel of the coast is different than the capital. Def has a lazy beach city vibe. Almost all of the men and boys still wear the traditional jalabiyyas. You see them all over, especially on Fridays, but by the sea I would say that the vast majority of the men and boys wear them everyday.
|Cute kid in a jalabiyya.|
And though I feel like an oddity and like I stick out all the time, this seaside town was a different story! Cleary they don’t have a slew of foreigners. We were stared at by most, photographed by some, and videoed by a few! It was nuts. Though we were still incredibly welcomed and liked, as is the local way. One day we took an amjat to the fish market. He honked and waved to everyone he passed and even announced to some of them that he was driving khawajas. It was funny.
We ate fresh seafood everyday, played a lot of cards, saw old buildings made out of bricks cut from coral, walked around the city, explored a presently unused train station that was built over 100 years ago. I demonstrated how to pick a crab for my German, Kenyan, and South African comrades, and we spent plenty of time soaking up the sun and doing a bit of snorkeling in the salty, beautiful, blue Red Sea.
|Fresh fish for dinner.|
|Pretty lil cove.|
|Camels were everywhere!|
|One was so nice to stop and pose in this sunset picture.|
I feel relaxed, refreshed, and ready to get back to the grind. So thankful for the break! (And my roomie and I are already thinking that a return trip is in order!)