Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Eid on the gulf of Aqaba

Last week was another "eid" or feast here. Everyone had the week off school. The holiday celebrates, among other things, god's decision to spare Ishmael and accept a sheep sacrifice from Abraham instead. Now, I remember this story in the bible, where God tells Abraham he has to sacrifice his son and then relents at the last minute after ishmael (Isaac to christians) is spread out on the slab. Granted, I didn't have the most church-y of upbringings, and new englanders shy away from emotional intensity generally, but I don't remember anybody celebrating this particular story. It mostly seemed to make everyone uncomfortable and was skipped over pretty quickly. So I was surprised to learn that the islamic world embraces this passage with such intensity. It's one of the biggest holidays of the year- sort of like Christmas. To do it right you really have to slaughter your own sheep. The Egyptian government imports thousands of extra sheep for the occasion. Everyone has to share some of their meat with the poor. On the day of the feast evidently the streets of Cairo run red with sheep innards and gore. Someone told me that the whole thing about feeding the poor has gotten out of hand: there is too much lamb and the poor can't even eat it all and so some just goes bad. I don't know if that's true. In this person's opinion it would be better if some people gave sheep to the poor, and some other people gave money or their time. But the Koran says to slaughter the sheep, and all that is taken very literally hereabouts.

On the other hand, this adherence to text means that absolutely everyone shares with the poor in tangible way. That certainly has not been my experience of holidays in the US even though there is a lot of talk and prayer for the poor on Christmas.

Anyhoo, I thought the boys were a little young for all this, so we joined some friends who were going diving in the Sinai. I really cant describe how different this place was, so i wont try. This is the hotel we stayed in:

It was right on the beach.

One day we rode horses.

We all enjoyed relaxing Bedouin-style.


The only drawback was that there were some Mosquitos. They especially liked Emmett. We were able to take evasive measures, but not before he looked like this:

Poor guy!

We finally got rid of them by sacrificing a sheep . . . Just kidding!

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