Live always at the edge of poetic possibilty, even in the face of severe prose. - Walter Bruggemann

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Women of Darajat

It is difficult to write commentary for these photos because by the end of the week we had come to understand one another as women and as friends. Most of the women in these photographs are of the women with whom we stayed. The women took their meals separately from us but sat by us as we ate. In one sense it was uncomfortable because they waited on us but their hospitality is extraordinary. We talked as best as we could between our Arabic, Hebrew, and English but somehow it didn't matter we got the point across. When it was finally time for us to say goodbye, we kissed cheeks several times, back and forth, saying good bye to one another. I will remember them for a long time to come.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Life in Darajat

The minaret of the mosque in Darajat. On top of the hill is the grave of a sheikh from the village. My friend and I wanted to go into the mosque and some children wanted to show it to us. As we walked over we became the pied piper, children gathered around to show us their mosque. We took off our shoes and went in. They took us to the top! I'm not sure if we were supposed to be up there but there we were with a grand view of the terrain and Darajat.
Looking down from the top of the minaret. The panel to the left is a solar panel. The town functions on generators and they boast that the mosque is the only mosque that is powered by generator.
We followed the children up the rounded staircase to the platform that you see with the railing.A budding muezzin! Muslim's are required to pray salah, ritual prayer five times a day. He is standing next to the pulpit or minbar. I'm not sure if this boy is facing Mecca but the muezzin faces toward the Ka'bah in Mecca. In Darajat the first call to prayer comes at 4:30 am!!! It was nice, I think. It began my morning early and in prayer, although mine were under the sheets. The muezzin of course woke up the roosters who sometimes decided to sit beneath my window. They prayed very loudly too.
One afternoon we took a tiyul (side trip) to the top of the hills that surround Darajat. There is a quarry on their land where many of the men work. It is said that it is through this valley Abraham, Isaac and Jacob traveled from Bet El and Hebron south to Beer Sheba, the Negev and then on to Egypt in the book of Genesis.
As we descended the hills we had this glorious view of all of Darajat. It was dusk so the light were beginning to come on.
And what's a bedouin village without camels. Here you can see camels grazing on the hills.
Some of the buildings appear to be vacant. They are but that is the way in which Arabs build their homes. They are built to accomodate generations of families. On the porch level we stayed on you could see the columns that had been inserted for the next level when it needs to be built. In 2005 the Israeli government recognized this village as a legitamate dwelling. The water pipes have been layed but Darajat has not been 'hooked' up to the water system. What they have to do is bring in water by tanks. In this photo the boys are on top getting the siffoning system going. We were without water in our bathroom for a day and a half, but there was water to drink.
A view out of the back of my bedroom window.
The weather was hot and windy because we were in a hamseen wind for most of the time were were there. Visibility was not the best. This boy choose to sleep on top of the roof to get some air. I found it hard to sleep because the wind coming through the windows were hot and so dry. One night before I climbed into bed I had to shake my sheets to get the fine layer of sand off.
The last night we were there though the hamseen broke. You know when they break because there is more wind but it's coooooool!!
As another little aside....also on the last night a few of us were sitting at the table outside where we took our meals. Three children were sitting on the steps next to us and a man began to yell. Then he took his sandal off and slapped it on the ground. He killed a scorpian....that was right next to was about two inches long.
A woman bringing dough down to the taboon oven. I'll post a separate entry about hoobus and the taboon.
At night the mosque was lit, again, by generator. All mosques have these green vertical lights illuminating the minaret. This photo was taken early in the evening. When most of the generators went off the mosque generator stayed on. The green glow was quite lovely but not when you're trying to go to sleep.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Children of Darajat

Darajat or Drejat is a small village of 800 people nestled in the Arad Valley in the Negev. They are falakhim - or Arab farmers - who established the city in the mid 19th century. They do not consider themselves Bedouin now anymore but come from that lifestyle lineage. I spent a week in Darajat with ten other people learning a little Arabic and living in a host home. Over the next few days I'll be posting photographs from the village and will give more commentary. The two above photos show the little ones of the village watching the young teens perform traditional Bedouin dances.
My friend and I asked to see the mosque one afternoon. The children were more than happy to show us around and up to the top. More photos will come but in the photo above a boy sits inside of a widow opening inside of the mosque.
Children exercising after a lunch break.

Some of the people from our class entertaining the neighborhood kids

Friday, April 25, 2008

Morning of Roses

I've just returned from Darajat, a Bedouin village in the Negev.
There will be another posting tomorrow.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Nuweiba - Day Three...Still

After four hours of jeeping in the desert and hiking the Coloured Canyon, it was time to move best as we could with our parched bodies and aching feet. Ahmed did the pass off with us to Mahmoud. We were smoothly transferred at the entrance to Nuweiba, a Bedouin town on the Gulf of Aqaba. Famous for it's fabulous shopping. I wouldn't quite use the word fabulous to describe the shopping conditions but, there were things that we managed to pick up at a bargain. Donna and I were very aware of the fact that Egyptian women on the streets, or in the shops, or in the hotel were non-existent. We did see a few out early in the morning walking to market or tend the goats. These photos were taken quickly from the car. Mahmoud said that they don't like to have their photos taken.

We were starving when we arrived. The hotel had packed a box lunch for us to take on the road. Mahmoud found this seaside restaurant that we could sit and eat. The breeze was magnificent and our lunch was, not so much. We each got a sandwich with one slice of cheese and another sandwich with what looked like a single two x one slice of beef jerky, maybe camel meat, who knows. It was undecipherable. There was a whole cucumber, a whole tomato, and a whole orange. Oh yeah and a bottle of water. We ate reluctantly dreaming of the dinner that we would have later at the hotel.

The jig is up Bush.
After we ate Donna and I took off for the strip mall. Dale decided to just sit and enjoy the ocean breeze. Not sure who had the best that Nuweiba could offer, him or us.

I bought more scarves. By now, I could practically open up my own scarf and pashmina shop.
Word spread that tourists were in town. The only tourists within miles were in town. And the little girls came up to see if we wanted to buy some of their jewelry. They carried little hobo bags filled with bead necklaces and bracelets. I wouldn't buy at first....the little shisters wanted 20 pounds per necklace. I KNOW. But their so cute, and so poor. I said, "lah, shookrahn", no thanks and cold heartedly walked away. I KNOW, I'm a sleazeball. By now, my bargaining skills are extraordinary. But, so were theirs. They followed me saying, in very broken English, "how much you want to pay". I looked at Mahmoud, he looked at me. I said, 10 pounds, that's it. We struck a bargain. I sat down in the dusty road and chose one necklace from each girl. They were happy, I was happy.
The pink sisters.
She was the more serious of the lot. Her necklaces were different than the others also.
She waited patiently for her cut.I barely could get up off of the dirt road at this point. It was really hot, did I mention that?? And, because of hiking the Coloured Canyon only an hour before every time my legs had a chance to rest they quit working all together. I left the girls with my necklaces and they left with my money. Donna and I continued to peruse that shops. When we were leaving the girls were sitting on the steps eating candy.
An Egyptian cat!

This was the end of our quick two days in the Sinai. We got out a few pounds heavier and a few pounds lighter.