One of my colleagues enthusiastically invited me to her home. This is not so unusual but she told me that we would need an entire day for this adventure. Fair enough. I adjusted my plans on Monday and at 9:30am, the journey began. Firstly, this excursion was a three-bus-journey: Cheraga to Zeralda, Zeralda to Mahalma, then Mahalma to Sidi Abdullah. With each bus trip, you could witness the landscape changing and the air feeling lighter. The buses became smaller too, as we were entering a less densely populated region. The last bus ride was cozy but friendly since several inhabitants were relatives and neighbors of my host. When we finally dismounted, after winding and snaking skyward up the narrow roads, I took in a deep breath of fresh air on the empty road. The air smelt so green. There was no other way for me to describe it. Then, by foot, we climbed down the green valley and passed the friendly cows grazing in the pastures to finally arrive at her home. We were warmly greeted at the door by her grandma who donned black sunglasses, several layers of clothes, and a sassy pashmina hijab (head scarf). I told my friend “Your grandma is so cool!” She told me that her grandmother’s vision was failing, hence the need for the sunglasses to protect her delicate lenses from the sun’s glare. Her hearing was beginning to retire too but not her mind. At 86, Grandma was as sharp as a tack, only occasionally forgetting where she left her precious prayer beads. Grandma only spoke Kaabil, the language of the Kaabili Berbers. This, however, did not stop her from welcoming me with her warmth. At one point she yelled across the dining table to me “How is your Mom? Give her my salaam (greeting of peace).”
My hosts prepared a delectable vegetarian lunch for me. The meal’s produce and seasonings were mostly grown on their own soil. How about that for food security? No pesticides or chemicals, just pure, natural, organic, homegrown goodness. I long for a day when I can do the same. After the meal, I received a grand tour of their land and they pointed out all of the produce, fruits, and herbs and told me their benefits.
Later on, we walked down to the lake and walked back home to enjoy hot tea and cookies. The entire trip had been so refreshing. Before leaving their home, I prayed and heard nothing but birds chirping around me. Though it was only about three o’clock, I had to prepare for the three-bus journey to return to Cheraga to teach my evening class. Grandma gently scolded us to get going so wouldn’t be late and the family invited me to return with Urbndervish the next time. I told that I would be glad too and bid them farewell.