Now that the holidays are long over, I feel I owe you all an update. I should point out first that although most of the Christmas decorations have been packed up, the christmas tree (plastic, purchased at Macy's) still stands, lit in the living room. It was wonderful to have a Christmas with all of the trimings again, even though the overt commercialization really got under my skin. I got to resume the family tradition of Christmas Eve dinner, and the quasi-German Christmas gathering, the red cabbage our one nod to tradition. I even got to spend some time up in the mountains, and marveled at how we were able to survive Tahoe when it got down to 9 degrees. 2006 will probably go down as the one year in my life where the temperature ranged from 140 degrees to 9. Not counting the effects of wind chill and direct sunlight.
I went to a wine party back in December, and everyone said how different the party must have been compared to Christmas parties last year. I kept that in my mind as I celebrated New Years. New Years 2006 was at my friend Hilary's village, and we spent the night dancing with her real parents and her village parents. She bought some sparklers that seemed like a good idea to give out to the dancers, but we quickly put them away after seeing the potential safety problems. We ate a big féte (feast) complete with goat and rice, and oranges from the tree behind her hut. I think we fell asleep at 10. This year, I was with friends, out at a restaurant, and went over to someone's house before midnight, mostly to get away from the guys at the restaurant bar who were quickly getting trashed. We drank our champagne, made our good cheers, and promptly fell asleep. While some things have remained the same, such as my ability to fall asleep on a dime, so much has changed as well.
Amidst all of this down time, I decided to try to call the village to wish them a happy Tabaski. Tabaski is also known as El-eid, and is an important holiday in the muslim year, second only to Korite, which marks the end of Ramadan. Tabski is also known as the sheep slaughter holiday, because that's what people do - it marks when Abraham (Ibrahima) sacrificed a sheep instead of his own son. Needless to say, it is a big day in the village, and a great day to call. Unfortunately, a lot of other people thought it was a great day to call, and instead of reaching my village family and friends, I talked to Ami, the telecentre owner, exchanged 5 minutes of Pulaar greetings, hung up and promised to call again, and got nothing but subsequent busy tones. I cross my fingers and hope all is well there... Hiijam!