Her house was farther away than I thought it would be. When we got there the men and women immediately split off into different room and chatted and visited. I was quietly listening for most of the time. It’s hard to have much to add in group settings. The conversations moves really quickly and I’m happy if I can just keep up.
We were served water and juice. Then we were served a meal. It was an impressive and tasty spread of some of the usual dishes. Stew with okra and potatoes, pasta with some ground meat, mashii (rice stuffed zucchini and eggplant), eggplant and yogurt salad with tahini, arugula and tomatoes, chili sauce, all eaten with bread.
After we ate all of us gathered together in one room. A few of the male teachers and the director, then Eliza’s dad and older brother all said a few words. Then they asked me to pray for Eliza. A few other folks prayed and Eliza’s dad closed us. After that we were served tea. I told myself I wasn’t going to get worried about the time, transport, descending darkness, or that the sky was looking foreboding. I wanted to be fully present. I had a good feeling that I’d be fine and needn’t worry myself. It was a nice visit. I felt a little awkward, but I think that’s to be expected. Eliza and her family were very appreciative that we came. Her Dad told us, and singled me out specifically, to say that we were part of the family now and welcome anytime. It was sweet.
As we were leaving you could see a dust storm approaching and lightning way off in the distance (a very rare sight here!). The sun was just starting to go down, but it sets really quickly here–20 minutes later it was completely dark out. While we were in the amjat (minivan/taxi) my housemate calls to see if I’m ok. She says there is a dust storm in where she was and that we’d lost power. (Though that is not unusual.) I was starting to feel just a little nervous about getting home. I kept thinking we were going to pass a road where I knew I could get out and easily get a bus to the station to get home. I realized, though, that we were going a different way back to the center. By the time we get back to the center I’d decided I would just take an amjat home. I said goodbye to everyone and went to say bye to Zeke who had been chatting with the driver. As I said bye to him he told me to get in, he talked to the driver and the driver would take me. I was really relieved, as taking an amjat isn’t dangerous really, but it is a bit of a risk for me to flag down one and take it by myself at night. You never know if you can really trust the driver or not. So this meant this guy who they know and trust was going to take me. Splendid. I asked Zeke how much and he told me it was taken care of. I said “No! I’ll pay for it!” and he said “No, no!” and told me to get in. I felt bad that they paid, but also really touched! How thoughtful! It warms my heart that I wasn’t the only one concerned about getting home in the dark from Omdurman and that he realized that a khwajja (white foreigner) girl getting around at night, especially with a storm brewing, was a little dangerous. Two of the teachers called me on the way home to make sure I was ok. It was a lovely visit and what a relief it was not to have to take the bus at night nor have to flag down an amjat, haggle over a price, and get in wondering whether or not he will be inappropriate with me.