“We have been friends since the day our mothers gave birth to us. We are more than brothers.” Habib and his cousin Anwar have spent their entire lives adventuring together; recently, many of those adventures have taken place along the Abraham Path.
Both from the village of Duma, Habib and Anwar learned the trails in their region by following their fathers through the mountains to collect wild honey. “We were very young. I was about seven years old when I used to follow my father on the donkey as he and Anwar’s father would track the bees to their hives,” remembers Habib. More than forty years later, Habib and Anwar still wander the trails of Duma and the surrounding areas in search of wild honey, carrying on their fathers’ longstanding traditions.
Their wanderings also reflect another aspect of their heritage, though: the commitment to warm hospitality and friendliness. Habib and Anwar can’t remember a time when their grandparents treated a new visitor as unwelcome or a stranger. “The Roma people used to come through Duma, and they would set up tents here,” they recall. “All the families in the village would take turns cooking and offering them food as guests in their land.”
Today, the two cousins love to welcome visitors to their land much as their grandparents did. Like the villagers of previous generations, Habib and Anwar often share food, water, and their special herbal tea with hikers. They’ve also discovered that taking these newcomers to some of their favorite places in the region is a wonderful way to introduce them to the land and to make them feel welcome. One of these special places is called Fasayel; it’s a place both men hold very dear. “We like to take people to Fasayel because it is a place that quiets the heart,” Anwar says. “When I feel burdened by life, I go to Fasayel and sit on a rock, make tea, and give the mountain all my troubles.”
Many visitors have enjoyed walking with the knowledgeable men; and through their experiences, the two are slowly learning how best to utilize their combination of skills in order to function as an effective guiding team. “Habib is an expert on all the natural habitats, and he’s good at discovering alternative routes. I can speak English. So when people come, Habib gives the explanation of things and I translate,” explains Anwar.
The opportunity to share information is one Habib cherishes. “There is a pleasure in being a guide,” he reflects. “I feel a satisfaction when I share information about plants and animals with people who have never been here before. I feel that I am sharing the generosity of my elders, who passed down this information to me.” The two cousins have experienced much since the days when they used to follow their fathers through the hills, searching for honey; but their family heritage and traditions continue to shape their paths and adventures.