I am grateful. We came back to our shelter after half a year away. I didnt expect it would be so fulfilling to come back to this little cement cage. After all that happened along the way to Iceland, including the intense stay.
This year has been as eventful as the ones before.
The Trip to Iceland
We started our trip to Iceland at the end of February in our 89' Fiat Ducato Caravan A.K.A "Grandma", A.K.A. "Babusha" ("the snail" in Arabic)
We had recently renewed it, changed the engine and all was working as it should which was a refreshing change. We planed on selling it when arriving to Iceland. In only one week we drove from the middle of Morocco, trough Spain and France, to Eastern Germany.
We had made a deal online to buy a newer, bigger caravan as we were again expecting a plus two addition to the family. There was a need of upgrading the nomad camel. Actually this trip is material for a novel all by it self but I will skip the details. We passed over to Slovenia to meet friends while we waited for the papers of the car to be prepared. Afterwards we met a friend in Munich who was going to help us drive "Grandma" to Iceland. In Hamburg we had registration problems. We realised a little too late that we needed to pay double the price of the car if we wanted to register it in iceland because of the CO2 tax. We didn't know if we could go to Iceland at all at this point. We had booked a ticket with Smyril line on the 17th of March and by the 15th we had made things miraculously fit, after alot of stress and running around the bureaucracy offices of Hamburg with the help of our dear friend Hauke. We ended up registering the car in his name in Hambourg and we were going to take the car to Iceland on a short term permission by doing it in the name of our Portuguese friend who was travelling with us. We just had one and a half day to drive to the north Denmark in our speed of 70km/hour which we never succeeded while driving Grandma. The night before the booked ferry trip Grandma had had enough. The engine boiled over 60km from Hirtshalls, the ferry town. We thought that was it. We were not supposed to catch this stupid ferry.
In the morning of the Ferry day we looked to see if the car could be driven the rest of the way. I tried calling to change the booking but no-one answered as it was the weekend, all offices closed. Either we would loose the super expensive tickets or try to make it. We ended up towing the old caravan with the newer caravan the last 60km driving 30km/hour on country roads, the towing rope breaking a few times on the way, arriving dirty and sweaty just in time for the ferry. After being picked for a random toll check, both caravans scanned and searched and we had cleared it out that we were allowed to tow the car on board the ferry we happily drove onto the boat to see that we had to cross a steep ramp up to the second car level. We took a deep breath, gave it our all and... the rope broke with a loud pop. It broke two more times and all the people in the car level had started watching the entertainment. In the end a blessed truck driver stepped forward with heavy chains and we made it up the ramp with the newer caravan smelling like burned rubber. We have no photo from this endeavour as our minds were pretty preoccupied with other things. We laughed hysterically as we pushed Grandma the last meters into the parking and realised that we had made it.
At dawn on the 20th of March after 4 days in the ferry and a stop over in Torshöfn, the Faroe Islands I walked out to the deck while everyone was still sleeping and saw the icy mountains of Eastern Iceland rising up straight from the ocean. I had a weird feeling looking at this icy rock of an island after the journey over this huge uneven ocean. "Are we arriving too early? Is it the right decision to come here now?". We docked in Seyðisfjörður, left Grandma with a mechanic and drove all together to Reykjavík in the new car.
We were going to stay in Iceland, do some extra work in the movie industry and save up some money before the new arrival of the new twins. We didn't need to worry about a place to stay as we had our home with us. We just needed to find a place where to park it. In the end Benni and Charlotte invited us to camp in their big garden and there we stayed until the beginning of Ramadan in the middle of May.
Our friends took pride in having muslim gypsies living in their backyard as they said. They provided us with water and electricity and their lovely nine year old twin daughters Brynja and Freyja came to take our twins out to play. Ironically this was the garden I played in while growing up because Benni and Charlotte had bought my childhood home from my parents two years earlier. In this period Othman A.K.A my African slave worked for five weeks in the shooting of the Icelandic tv-series Trapped. Meanwhile I took care of the girls with friends and family and tried to help out at our families store Nús/Nús. Soon after we arrived we received a shipping container of Moroccan handcrafted products we had filled before traveling to Iceland.
When Ramadan started we had promised ourselves to go completely to nature. To fast in peace. This time I was not fasting as I was 30weeks pregnant with twins. We started by going to Snæfellsnes, our favourite place to run away to. We parked the caravan with friends first with Siggi and Bryndís in Miðhraun and later with beautiful friends in the community at Öxl for a few nights as the weather was too wild to be right by the ocean. We felt often like we were sleeping in a boat on open water as the car swayed in the wind.
On the 22nd of march we made a spontaneous decision to drive to the capital Reykjavík to catch the premier of the movie Woman at War. Othman worked in the making of the movie the year before and my father is the Director of photography and co-Producer. We felt we couldn't skip it as we had intended to do. As we drove the rain and wind got heavier and right after Borgarnes the wind started really pulling at us. I knew of the possibility of caravans like ours flying off the road in this area but I felt that the wind wasn't strong enough. We drove on and then suddenly it was like the car was hit by the wind, like a big hand just hit us to the side, it almost pushed us off the road. We stopped the car and were going to try to turn around. I went to the girls to tighten their seatbelts and another hit came. This time it flew us off the side of the road. Othman screamed my name as he knew I was not wearing my seatbelt.
It is an amazing moment, when you feel that the control is out of your hands. "Allright, so this is going to happen. This is really going to happen. suphanallah". I felt my body fly into the air and than hit and hit and hit the walls of the caravan. I thought maybe it will stop after falling on the side but it kept on two rounds until it stopped. In the first round the right wall of the car broke open and in the second round I was thrown over there and my hand went outside of the car and the car rolled over so my hand was stuck. The car stopped. You know these videos so often shared on Facebook of people digging them selves out from under rubbles of cement after an explosion somewhere in the Middle East ? This is exactly what I had in mind as I laid there on my pregnant stomach with my hand stuck. The screaming of my two little girls and the loud howling of the wind and rain. What a horrible feeling of desperation. I recited the Quran to my self and gave thanks to the giver, the most high. I climbed up to my knees and felt my body was whole except for my hand and it felt numb. Othman was breaking himself a way through the rubble towards me, screaming my name. He tried pulling me up but I told him I was stuck, but that I was fine otherwise. He tried pulling apart the wall that had locked on my right wrist but it didn't move an inch. I told him to go to the girls. He went and told me they were okay. At this moment I felt so unbelievably thankful. I was very aware of the fact that perhaps something had happened to my unborn babies but the knowing that Othman, Maryam and Iman were okay just filled my heart with happiness. I thought even if my hand is gone, how thankful I am al hamdoulillah. People started coming to the car in the attempt of helping, some men found their way in through the broken front window and just froze as they saw me. At the time I was not so aware of how I looked. We had all our food stock under the seats in the back, It had all went flying around the car. Othman had stepped on some tomato sauce packaging that exploded on my belly and the wall in front of me. I was there on four legs my big belly red with something that looked like splattered blood. All pretty comic in these crazy circumstances. Othman screamed at them to do something to help him. I bade them a good day in a pretty normal voice. Othman started speaking Spanish to them and they told him to please speak English. He didn't know what they were talking about as he didn't realise his language switch. They tried and tried to get me loose but nothing worked. The police arrived and they froze just like the people before them as they came inside. Finally they broke off the plywood that was clammed around my hand just to find out that my hand was also stuck under the weight of the car. The hand was really starting to hurt a lot and the pounding in it was getting harder. I saw and felt the soft grass beneath the car and thought of how lucky to have the grass underneath and not rocks or road, then my hand would have been gone. There passed some time until I was finally free after around 20 people came together and lifted the car so I could be pulled from under. I stumbled out of the car with the help of Othman and someone else through the front window and they asked me if I could walk. I though I could but they catched me as I fell. They carried me to the ambulance and set me down on the emergency bed. It was then that I felt this excruciating pain in my pelvic bone. No way to sit. they laid me down.
Othman and the girls drove in an ambulance behind me. In the accident the whole interior of the car, shelves, kitchen equipment, food cans, books had rolled all around my little loves but there was a shield protecting them as they didn't have a single scratch. Othman as well was not hurt after the roll over but hurt his hands and knees trying to get me free. I was the only one hurt. I saw the reflection of my bloody swollen face in a glass cabinet in the ambulance. I thought everything was very funny and kept on joking around with the doctor and the paramedics. I was having frequent contractions and my pants were wet. I was pretty sure the babies wanted to make their way out. I felt both of them moving so I was calm and even more happy.
We drove to the closest hospital in Akranes and they examined me. They said the amniotic fluid did not break and I laughed and said that then I must have peed my pants. The birth doctor wanted to send me straight to Reykjavík as they were not equipped to receive premature twins of 32 weeks and I kept on having the contractions. We drove all together in one ambulance. The girls were so amazing. They got the first Ice-cream in their life as a gift from the paramedics who showed them cartoons on an iPad which for my girls is also a rare luxury. It was a mixed happiness. Maryam felt the ice-cream was too cold to keep on eating but wouldn't let go of it and held it as it melted all over her hand. The paramedic guy trying to clean it constantly, until he gave up an wrapped her hand in toilet paper. It was so nice to have Othman and the girls next to me. They got orange hospital socks and knitted dolls in the hospital in Akranes and had made friends with the paramedics. "Húsbíllinn datt, húsbíllinn datt". They repeated. The caravan fell. They kept on repeating this sentence for the next months. "The caravan fell, mamma fell, Baba helped mama, the caravan fell". We called Auntie Berglind and she and Siggi, her husband met us as we entered the capital to take the girls. We didn't want to ruin the night of the premier for my parents as we were all fine. I told Othman to go with them to keep the girls calm and I went on to hospital. The paramedics were so nice. Two guys. They told me, "You should know that if you were a man with these injuries you would be crying hysterically right now. Women are really the stronger gender. We know, we see it everyday in our work. You are so strong". I thanked them wholeheartedly as we parted. The midwifes did examinations and monitored the babies. They were perfectly fine ! Just swimming around in their own bubbles, their own worlds. I needed to go to the bathroom but as I rose the pain arrived in my pelvic bone again and I fainted. It felt so good, to faint. Calmness, silence, no pain. I woke as I was waking from a good sleep, lying on the floor in my own urine. They told me I had a really hard hit in my crotch in the accident. It looked like a water ballon, very swollen. The hit had caused internal bleeding that was going to take the body long time to get rid of. So interesting that I didn't feel this at all until afterwards. All the hits on my head and body parts. The body is an amazing thing. The adrenaline kept me totally whole and awake until I was out of the danger.
The next day they told me and Othman, who arrived after the girls slept, that we could go home if we wanted to. I wanted to. Even though we had just lost our home. We lost our shelter. All of our things blowing in the wind and rain. We went to auntie Berglind with babies inside the belly and no broken bones miraculously, but I couldn't move a finger of my very swollen hand. Later I would wish my hand had just broken instead of the nerve damage that looked like permanent on my right hand. They offered us to stay with them as long as we wanted. We were so thankful. The girls were almost shy with me. I couldn't sit, I couldn't stand unless being in pain, so the next weeks went into lying down and resting. It wasn't until a few days later that the shock kicked in. We never make long term plans, but we had some kind of a plan for the next few months. To give birth In Iceland and stay in nature in the caravan until our booked ferry ride back in the beginning of September. Then go driving slowly down Europe and find a eco community to stay with for a few months with the new family addition and be in peace. Now this plan had flown out of the window.
We were very aware that Allah had shaken us a little just to turn us in another direction, this needed to happen for us to go the right way. But I just felt suddenly so lost when thinking about the future. We got a little lost in worrying about it and trying to make plans. Othman suggested going straight to Morocco before the birth to our small apartment in Essaouira and I agreed, even though I didn't feel like leaving Iceland and my people just yet but we would just spend the next months going from house to house if we were to stay. We are used to it but being physically hurt, expecting twins anytime, with two two and half year olds I wasn't very exited about the idea. There was no way for me to travel straight away and if we waited just one or two weeks it would be too late for me to fly because of the pregnancy. We ended up staying.
One week after the accident we felt like escaping the city once again. We borrowed the summer house of my great uncle Sigurður. There we got whole three days of sun! Sun that we almost had not seen since arriving in Iceland. We could count on the fingers of one hand the days of sun since April. I felt the sun heal me with her caring rays. Othman cooked nice food for us and treated me like I was in a luxury hospital hotel. The girls were so happy playing outside and it filled our hearts with peace.
We arrived back in the city to find a new shelter. My grandmother's sister, Jóna Borg and her husband Lúðvík offered us to stay in their tiny wooden grass roof cabin by a lake close to Reykjavík. This was a relief in so many ways as they said we could stay until we gave birth and perhaps until we left. This was truly godsend. The next weeks we stayed there, the girls so happy to run outside at all times and play in the garden and small playhouse. We had not planned to work more but after recent events we needed extra money so Othman went days and days to work in shooting. As I was still limited in my right hand and very limited in strength and the ability to move around I had help most of the time with the girls from my mother or auntie. There were so many wonderful people offering their help in this time of need.
I went to see a specialist about my hand as I was told the recovery was being extremely slow. I constantly had a buzzing numbness in the hand and muscles were not yet working. It definitely was a nerve damage after the clamping of the hand underneath the car for this long period of time. There was no way of knowing how long the recovery would take or if the hand it would recover at all. When I heard this it was like having a cold glove slammed against my face. I had been holding on to the hope of a full recovery. But when this definite possibility was revealed to me it was a shock. The thought of not being able to use my right hand when these babies would arrive was quite numbing. I was also angry about all the medical bills and the fact that nothing at all was claimable from any insurance after the accident. The ambulances didn't just charge us once, but four times. Me, Othman, Maryam and Iman, even though I was the only one needing care. I said that luckily the twins weren't born on the way as they would perhaps have thought of charging us for their ride as well. We started to wonder about the status of this "welfare society" with this great healthcare system that was so ridiculously expensive. On top of everything I had an iron deficiency that no iron supplication seemed to help with, so my midwife advised me to have iron injected straight to my blood. Finally I agreed to do but when arrived I had to pay 23.000 kr or about 200 euros for the iron and than pay for the injection I was just so finished. Something I had expected to be free because of the free maternity care system. I had to sit in the chair as the iron was dripping into my system for 40 minutes and I simply couldn't stop the tears from streaming down my cheeks. It was simply the last drop that overflowed the cup, I was angry and exhausted but didn't know who to be angry with.
It took me about two days to recover from the melancholic mood by repeating the mantra of how incredibly blessed we were and comparing our situation to so many more unfortunate people. There were so many uncountable blessing being showered over us constantly. I could easily have lost my hand, this was clear after examining the place where my hand exited the car. There was a sharp layer of aluminium that had left the deepest cut in my wrist but if I had beed jammed back just one more time it would have cut it off. Al hamdoulillah, praise be to god and thanks to him. What if we had swept off the road in the first hit of wind while we were driving on the highway, it would have been a completely different story. And our younger set of twins were still kicking on inside my belly. I could keep going on forever. The trust that I will get better and to believe it against all odds. Kun fa ya kun. If god wills it, it will be.
It was interesting having to learn to do things all over again with my left hand. How a few little muscles in my hand could change so incredibly much. Again how amazing the human body is and how amazingly complex and sophisticated the control we hold over it. We are given these capsules to walk this life and we can be thankful every single minute of it. To learn to live with disabilities just wakes us up to all our abilities and allows us to be happy with the rest of them.
Othman was determent to try to fix the caravan. The house was totally broken down but the engine was still in fine shape. It was hard to swallow the fact that this thing was just gone because it was to expensive to fix in Iceland, when knowing by fact it would be so easy in Morocco. Having to just throw it away, put it to be terminated just because it would be cheaper to buy a new one instead of spending the money on fixing it. This is what we kept on hearing. IT is impossible. This is exactly the mentality of our modern world that is dramatically leading to the destruction of our planet. "Just buy a new one!!" Of course my Othman just got more determined to do it himself. He was going to rebuild the house on top of the car. He would have and could have done it if we had more time and if I wasn't needing him so much to help me in the house and with the girls.
In the end it was too much work at this time and we sadly gave up the caravan.
When I finally went into labour, after about two weeks of painful contractions and two months of contractions without pain, I was 39 weeks and one day. Something you never expect with twins, to go so far and something we definitely were not expecting after all that had happened. I was so grateful for these 7 weeks of recovery I got before these two arrived. The doctors had insisted on inducing labour but I wanted to keep them inside as long as they wanted to stay and start labour naturally. I was so relived when the water finally broke at noon on a Monday 9th of July. I was one hour later in the hospital, already 9cm dilated! The girls arrived with one hour apart from each other. Salma at 5 and Sara at 6 in the afternoon. What a beautiful feeling to be able to deliver completely naturally these two little miracles and what beautiful staff at the hospital that helped us make this a reality.
We had a ticket to fly to Morocco five weeks after the birth. Until then we stayed in peace in the little cabin by lake Hafravatn. Friends and family visiting and showering us with love and care. We reminded ourselves not to worry about the future. Put our trust in the Merciful, trust that the Provider would indeed provide. We had in mind to go as soon as possible to the mountains to build a little house from earth but did not decide anything as we knew our feeling on arrival to Morocco would determine the next step. Othman's parents came for the first time for a visit in the beginning of August just before we left. It was nice to introduce them to the different world of Iceland, the bad weather and for them to see where I was from.
We travelled on the 16th of August. Two 3 hour flights with four hours apart and then a four hour drive to Beni Mellal from Marrakesh airport. We were so extremely exhausted upon arriving in Beni Mellal around 6 in the morning of 17th.
We stayed in our little terrace flat in the house of Othman's parents for about two weeks before finally coming to our shelter here in Essaouira.
Now here we are, in our shelter. The girls so happy to be back here, running in the narrow streets, in the harbour and beaches with Othman and playing with water on the terrace, while I am in peace with my little miracles in the home. Blessings, blessings, blessing. Fa inna ma'al usri usra, Indeed with hardship there is ease. All the things that happened did not happen without a reason. We always were repeating it to our selves in the moments of hardship that this is all happening for a reason. Today I feel we are living the reason. To be here so fully content. To come back to something we left as a box of cement and seeing every little corner so full of blessings. To be here, knowing this is exactly the place we should be at this very moment, is something we always need to be mindful of to the fullest. It is something we already "know" but everything true we know needs to be remembered and practiced. In all the things that came across our way these last months had left us out of balance individually and as a consequence our relationship got more fragile and tense. We came together originally two individuals with peace in our hearts. We need our peace, balance and connection to the divine on the individual level so that we can be one whole in our hearts and deliver our peace to our children. Hardship on the individual level can be a gift as in these circumstances you have the option to be patient. For muslims patience is a way to get closer to god, closer to peace. So endure patiently, with beautiful patience(70:5), for indeed with hardship comes ease.
When I started to write this the plan was not to go into details. It just kind of happened, especially while writing about the accident and it felt kind of liberating. I'm sorry for the extreme length of this post. If you made it to the end you are truly a champion. Congratulations.
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