Sunday, January 11, 2015

Um....... are you sure this is where we should be.......?

I am pretty near the end of my trip now, (thank goodness I hear you say.....)

We are home late, and I am leaving Yemima the next morning as I am going to be spending the day with Clara and then going back to Shoshi. You may remember that at the very start of this trip, I met Linda Bar-On and she had told us that she was going be having an exhibition in Be'ersheva on the 18th November and I was delighted as I would still be there to see it.

Clara called to say she was almost with us, and Yemima and I went down to meet her, me clutching my little bag, and we then loaded it into the back of Clara's car. As I cam out of the door she said as it looked as if I as making aliyah! Well, maybe I should......... and after saying my goodbyes to Yemima,  we left.

Clara told me that as we were heading for Be'ersheva, she wanted to take me to a museum on the way down. We were heading south again and the countryside was desert with some greenery. We were heading to the Joe Alon Centre. This houses the museum of Bedouin Culture.

Joe was a very interesting man, he was sent to England at the outbreak of WWII and when he returned to Czechoslovakia, he found his parents had been victims of the Holocaust. He enlisted into the Israeli airforce while in Czechoslovakia and progressed from there. He was Air Attache in Washington DC, and was murdered a month before he was due to end his term of office in 1973.

There is a display in the foyer of the museum showing his ribbons.

We moved outside and there was a Bedouin tent set up. As you can see they are not particularly small. The Bedouin life is a nomadic one, and they would move around the desert. There are several Bedouin tribes in the Sinai and the Negev.

The tents are very interesting as they are made of goat hair which repels water so is completely waterproof. The area in the photograph would be for entertaining. The other side of the striped fabric would be where the women baked and cooked and brought up the children and is known as the "Shigg". There was a lady baking bread which was typical of their culture and she invited us to break some off and eat, it was lovely, still hot and was flat and thin unlike Pita bread which is small and puffy.

We then moved into the Museum where there was a short film which explained the lifestyle, if a stranger arrived, he would be entertained in the main part of the tent and the women would provide food and make sure that he was welcomed, but the men would be the ones to entertain. The museum was well laid out and we had a lovely time looking at all the weavings, jewellery and other items there.

Bedouin beading and weaving

Blankets and wall hangings

Bridal attire

The camels have beautiful saddle covers

It was time for us to leave and head towards Be'ersheva. We were meeting a couple of Clara's friends, Nina and Ziva for lunch, they had been part of the committee choosing the quilts to come to Canada, and are both members of the guild in Be'ersheva.

But first, we had time to go to Lakia. This is a town which has been built to house the Bedouin, so there are not to many that now travel around the desert. Our first stop was at the Desert Weaving to see the beautiful cushion covers, bags and rugs that are made there, they were lovely but my goodness, they were heavy. We were allowed to wander around to the back of the building and see the weaving area although the weaver was not in attendance. There were bales of undyed wool and you can see how rough and coarse it is.

There were also some beautifully embroidered dresses for sale and it was lovely to go through them and see the handwork. It was time to go and we were now heading off to the Desert Embroidery project. This was very interesting as it is a not for profit organization which provides employment for women. The embroidery was and still is a very important part of the Bedouin culture, it was essentially used to decorate dresses, but the colours of the threads have special significance as to the age of the woman and her marital status. 

As the women are now more settled and not contributing as much, the project aims to help them by providing them with an income for their work and she earns regardless of sales. Apparently they employ 160 women on the project. It is also important to keep the tradition alive. I had a wonderful time looking a all the beautiful work, and bought some to take home as gifts, and had been the lucky recipient of some as well. It is also helping women by providing education classes for literacy, a mobile library, and a kindergarten.

I think this is a wonderful project and should be supported so I give the website here

We left here and then had to find our way to Be'ersheva. I never thought I would see camels wandering freely in the middle of a town, so Clara stopped and let me out of the car so I could photograph these. I was trying not to be too conspicuous, but people were staring at me.

Clara put Be'ersheva into the gps and off we went. We headed down this road towards the mosque and the gps was talking to us, so we were stopping our conversation to listen to it. We got to the junction at the end of the road which was opposite the mosque and went smola (left). We followed the road when all of a sudden it totally disappeared and we found ourselves driving across the desert............

Well.. we just carried on. There was no road, maybe just a tire track to follow, but the gps was telling us to carry on, it was not easy, the "road" was rutted and at times it was difficult to see the track. Our trusty gps kept telling us to keep to the right hand track, (yes, but where is it?), and at one point told us to take the right hand fork. That was a tricky one as there was a left, a sort of right and a definite right which headed straight into a Bedouin village of tents,  one of the official unofficial villages as they call them. We stopped and took the sort of right. Now, there are not too many cars in these villages, and you see lots of people walking, but on this occasion we were the only car out there. We must have driven across the desert for about fifteen minutes when all of a sudden, we can see the main highway. We had been laughing so hard that tears were running down as we couldn't believe that the gps would take us on this route, but I guess it knew it was there. We popped on to the road and it wasn't too long before we were in Be'ersheva. 

We met up with Nina and Ziva and had a lovely lunch and then went back to  Nina's home where she had laid out a wonderful array of her quilts to show me

Her work is lovely and based much more on the traditional, it was joy to see it. 

 I couldn't resist posting this again as they were so delicious....

It wasn't long until we were all in the same car and heading off to the Negev University in Be'ersheva as this is where Linda's exhibition was going to be, but prior to that we were going to hear a presentation that she was going to be giving. We found our way to the building and passed lots of university students, both Arab and Jew.  We opened the door to the lecture room, which announced our arrival by creaking as loudly as possible and there was Linda giving her lecture with slides in Hebrew. We found a couple of chairs at the back and Clara told me what was being discussed. When the lecture ended, there were lots of questions and someone asked Linda if she had shown her work outside Israel ( this was all in Hebrew, but Clara told me afterwards), to which Linda answered and mentioned my name and Canada. You have never seen so many heads swivel in my direction, I just waved.

When it was over, we all made our way into another building of the university where Linda's exhibition had been hung. Oh my.......... her work is amazing and  I have to confess that I took photos- but then so was everybody else. It was wonderful to just wander through and see her beautiful work, and I turned a corner........ and there was the camel quilt, "Blind Date". I couldn't quite believe it, and have to admit that I did stand there and cry, it was just lovely to see it again. 

Linda very kindly posed with it for me, but I think it's a little fuzzy sorry, and also very kindly signed the catalogues for this show, I told her how honoured we were to have had her work in Canada and thanked her again, on her part she told me how impressed she had been with the way we had handled her work, we left firm friends. I also me up with Yemima and Chaim again as they were there and also Eynia, it was lovely to see them.

I was then given a nighttime tour of Be'ersheva and then we had to head home.......

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