Tuesday, January 12, 2016


On December 25th we went downstairs to breakfast, and discovered this:

Apparently, our hotel was planning a huge Christmas feast for later that day, and they said they hoped that we would join them. In fact, they had a different theme in the restaurant each day that we were there, and changed the decor to match. All were impressive, but these tables were my favorite.

Over breakfast we discussed our plans for the day. We knew that there was to be a "Henna Party" later that evening, and that it was to be held at Grandmother's house. Areej described it as much more casual and intimate than the actual wedding, but warned us that people would still be fairly dressed up. We assumed that with everyone busy getting ready for that, it would be up to us to entertain ourselves that morning, so we decided to walk over to the shopping mall that was next to our hotel.

One thing we were not expecting to find there?

An ice rink!

Needless to say, we were a bit taken aback when we returned to the hotel, and found the family's driver, Sabit,  there waiting for us. Apparently, Habooba had taken a liking to us, and insisted that we should be there for an event that is usually limited to the bride's closest family, and certainly no grooms! We rushed upstairs to get cleaned up as fast as we could, then headed back out with Sabit.

The first to greet us upon our arrival were these guys.

Goats, right? Wrong! They're a special breed of short-haired sheep. I was on my way over to make friends with them when Hubby said "You might not want to do that. I'm pretty sure they will be our dinner at some point." Sure enough, there used to be four of them.

I started thinking that this henna party might not be quite as intimate as we thought, when I realized that Grandma's entire courtyard and the outdoor sleeping areas had been converted into one ginormous kitchen extension, and that everyone was swarming about like busy little bees!

Inside, the women were casually dressed and going about their business for the most part, even though more and more guests kept arriving. As I understood it, this morning's event was simply a time for the bride's family to gather around her in support. The unique thing was that a special singer/drummer was invited. He sat there in the formal living area, visiting with the family. Then, when the spirit moved him, he stood and began drumming.

Areej and Habooba
A few people wandered in from other parts of the house and clapped along. Then he started singing a call and response type of song. More people joined in.

Before you knew it, the room was packed full of people, singing and dancing. The songs were familiar to everyone, and their response lines were always the same, but it appeared that the singer had creative license to adjust his lyrics at will, cracking jokes about people in the audience, which  had them all roaring. When the song was finally over, most of the women returned to their tasks,  some of the men to their phones, and the rest of us to our coffee or sugar-laden tea.

A short time later, it would all begin again.

Next thing we knew, it was time for us to head back to our hotel to change for the evening's festivities!

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