In this post I want to pay tribute to my Saharawi family, to all the Saharawi families and to the Saharawi tea ritual. In their homes we were welcomed as at home and treated like kings. Between teas we met their culture and a new way of life.
I want to thank the family we lived with and the rest of Saharawi families, their hospitality was from the very beginning something indescribable, their human warmth something more intense than the desert fire. What I received was, and is, a blessed treasure that I keep in my heart. I went to the Saharawi refugee camps in anguish, I tought i was going to find misery, poverty and sadness. And what I discovered was joy and love, tons of love. I cannot explain in words the gratitude I feel. Thank you, thank you and thank you for all my dear Saharawi brothers and sisters.
In a week I went from being a total ignorant of the tea to spending hours in front of its preparation, of having practically never drunk it to become an absolute fan of this drink. The tea ritual is an important part of Saharawi life. They take it in the morning and in the evening, whenever there is a new guest at home, or when there is nothing to do. Not only will it help to awaken the drowsiness of the heat, but it will also restore the lost of sugars because of the sweating. And it seems to be a lie, but in the Sahara Desert they drink hot, boiling tea, to fight the heat.
The Saharawi tea ritual is composed of three parts, three teas. The tea they drink is green tea. First, the water is bolied together with the leaves of this infusion. Meanwhile, as many glasses as people are going to have tea are prepared and we talk. When it is ready, tea is poured into one of the cups, in only one, and the hot liquid is poured from cup to cup. From the first to the last and from the last to the first, until they are all half filled with foam. It is then when the tea will be served in each of them, will be distributed and taken.
This first tea it is said to be bitter as life.
Once the first tea is finished we proceed to prepare the second one. The same tea leaves are again boiled and this time sugar is added, lots of sugar. The glasses will be prepared again, when it is appropriated the tea will be poured into a glass only. And it will begin again the dance of this hot liquid jumping from glass to glass. Thanks to the skillful hands of the person who is preparing it, until the foam reaches half of the containers. It will be served, distributed and taken again.
This second tea it is said to be sweet as love.
And after the second tea comes the third. This time the same leaves will be cooked and more sugar will be added again. And the same ritual will be followed as in the previous two rounds. The preparation is subtle and delicate, time is not a problem. Here, they have a shortage of many things, but if they have something, that is time. Between preparation and preparation, between sip and sip we will speak about everything and nothing, in Spanish or in Hasania, there will be time even for silence.
This third tea it is said to be soft as death.
Not only am I savoring a wonderful nectar, but I am also receiving a lesson of life. A lesson that will accompany me from this moment and guide me on my way forever.
And then a new guest will arrive, and the Saharawi Tea Ritual will start again.