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During Memorial Day weekend (2 weeks ago) my family and another family we are friends with went off on a weekend jaunt up to Niagra Falls and then to Presque isle in Erie. Originally that was supposed to be the itenerary and we would sleep over at a motel near Erie. My husband had’nt ever been to either place and the trip was LITERALLY put together the NIGHT before…right down to somehow finding a vehicle in which 4 adults and a toddler could fit comfortably into. alhamdullah a friend of my husbands lent us his van.
Niagra Falls was a trip (literally and figuratively) and kind of different than how I remembered it when I last went…oh eight years ago. First off every other person there was from the subcontinent and we were all joking that the Indian subcontinent must be half empty this weekend because everyone is at Niagra Falls. Aapparently it’s a super popular place for Indians to vacation. I saw some of the latest styles in sarees and shalwar kameeses including several overweight women in skin tight churidar with thigh length kurta and dupatta, perched on heels hobbling around…i shudder to recall the sight.
Whilest we were there I got a hejabi “farmers tan” because I…gasp, forgot my sunblock, incredibly my son who is quite fair did not fry, alhamdullah. It was the perfect day to go there because it was sunny and hot, not a cloud in the sky. There was also a lot of Muslim women in hejab of some sort. There were quite a few women from the GCC coutnries that I ran into and salaamed…they stood out in their black abayahs and colored shaylahs tied up covering their faces, we ran into a family of Syrians…the mom was in a plain black jilbab and a BIG black square scarf tied up Iranian style, covering her chin. Her daughters had on knee length jackets and pants. One was quite dolled up and got a lot of attention. LOL
We also saw a Muslimah wearing a very unique style of covering that is worn by some Indian Muslim women. I found a picture on Flickr of some women in the same style. I don’t know what part of India this style is worn or the name…but it’s like a colored, printed pull over khimaar BUT, instead of being a simple circular pullover worn with an underscarf, it has a tie at chin and about shoulder length it has extra fabric sewn on in pleats and it’s worn with a skirt in the same fabric. I WISH I had taken a picture of her (with her permission of course) or atleast inquired about it’s name/origin but the women was with her husband and he was kind of scary looking…like really big and tall with a long beard and those types scare me anyway so I didnt try to say salaam and ask where she was from, or the name of her outfit.
Her outfit looked like what these women are wearing. These outfits are pretty somber compared to the splashy pink one she had on.
We also saw this nice young individual…
Look very closely and you’ll see she has on a tank top with her hejab. I could NOT resist taking a picture.
For lunch we ended up finding a little halaal food stall and bought insanely overpriced and alas, not quite worth it kabobs and biriyanis. By the time we ate lunch it was like 3-4pm and we were all starving, we ended up finding a nice park a ways away and eating there. We also tried to find the lone Masjid in Niagra Falls (the town) and although we were told it would be open and we could pray there, we found that it was closed and was a tiny, itsy bitsy house. The area it was in was also kind of shady. I wish there was a better masjid there because so many Muslims come to NF anyway, it would be a real nice perk!
My ensemble that day was my very comfortable Shukr black rayon shirt and linen lengha pants with a striped shaylah, also from Shukr.
I stayed very cool and covered and it was a great outfit for all the walking we did.
Alas, we were unable to jaunt over to the Canadian side where the views are better because the family we went with didn’t the proper documents on them.
After our day spent out in the hot, hot sun looking at water going over some cliffs we piled into the van and headed to our motel rooms in a little village…okay…town, right outside of Erie.
We got our rooms and by the time we settled in and was able to relax a bit it was already dark out. Starving yet again (that weekend we ate very little!) we decided to brave the small village, er town in which we were staying to find some food. It was a Saturday night and we were hoping there was a decent grocery store around so we could get some yogurt, bread and whatnot for an Irani style “mezze”, DIY dinner. of course, being urbanites and having access to all kinds of cool, exotic things we-well, at least THEY-didn’t realize that small grocery stores in little villages/towns…one…close early…and two…don’t have real yogurt or items for a Persian style “mezze”. So after driving around and around the center of the town (2 blocks with all the towns teenagers hanging out at this little Pool Hall) we decided on Subway. I had on a black abayah and shaylah for our “night on the town” and while we were in there like 6 rural skater boys came in and were behind us to order. Of course we took AGES to order… (I had my order in no time flat, but my husband and his friend took ages!!!) One of the youthful rural skater boys was getting a kick out of the “exotic” group hanging out in the Subway ordering and proceeded to take pics of us w/ his cell phone, all while giggling like a silly clown. As you can imagine, I let my son push over the guys skateboard that was propped up, oh so carefully, by one of the tables. I guess a bunch of people speaking Persian and a chick in hejab is REALLY exotic, esp when your little town is 97% white with a token Black, Chinese and Indian family. (really, I’m not biased against rural folk, I got this info by asking the women running the hotel-who, incidently represented the token Indian family).
The next day we headed out early to Presque Isle, in Erie. There are something like 3-4 beaches and several areas for fishing and other recreation activities. It’s a really nice little area. Unfortunately it was overcast that day and ended up raining so we only stayed one hour. I had hoped it would be as hot and sunny as it had been the day before. But, alas…nope.
Anyway, he had a great time. At first Ibrahim was NOT a happy camper about the sand and even less excited about the water. He’s a city boy so walking barefoot on sand was kind of traumatic. He basically screamed his head off as he tried to walk from where we parked down to the waters edge. Once he finally made it to the waters edge the water kind of tripped him out and he started to run around, screaming some more and ran INTO the water. Thereby soaking his shorts and making him even more angry.
Toddlers are a barrel full of fun, arent they.
Anyway, we (the adults) really enjoyed walking around and splashing in the slightly fridged water. Heres a picture of us along with Ibrahim clinging to my ‘abayah with all his little might. He had dropped his drawers in a tizzy because they were so wet.
After a bit he sort of chilled out and came to enjoy digging in the sand and in particular throwing sand on us. Here he trying to bury his mum in sand…
Anyway, after our beach adventures we were at a loss of where to go. originally we HAD intended to stay the entire day at presque Isle. relaxing and picnicing by the waters edge but the storm ruined that. My husbands friend suggested we up and drive to Cleveland. I admit at first I said…CLEVELAND!!! what the heck is in Cleveland?!?!!!
But lo and behold, Cleveland actually has a huge Muslim community and there is one area of the city where it’s like all Muslim and Middle eastern owned shops and restaurants…including the BEST little hejabi store I’ve come across in the US. *seriously*. The toddler was really well during the 2 hr drive to Cleveland and once we got into downtown we didn’t know where we were going, but we asked around at a hotel and found out where the big Islamic center is and my husbands friend said that the area with all the Muslim-owned shops were nearby.
We got to the Mosque and…wow, it was JUST GORGEOUS! Mashallah and props to the Cleveland community!!!
We stayed for awhile to say our salaat and then nebbed around, hoping to find a “local” to point us on our way. The other women who was with us was so excited about being able to pray in this mosque because she’s a new Muslim and this was her first visit to, as she said a “real” mosque. Although I dont know what really constitutes a ‘real” mosque, I guess she meant a Mosque that looked like a Mosque from the Middle East.
Anyway, I highly recommend a visit there if anyone reading this gets a chance to stop by Cleveland. We found a local who gave us directions to the “Muslim” area and we were on our way.