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Au Revoir for Now

February 3, 2010 3 comments

My last days in Tunisia felt like nothing more than a blur of fun. No emotional elaborations, no final closure. This form of departure could be either good…or very very bad when the reality of good-bye finally hits me.  I’ve been heavily preoccupied with dreaming of visiting my news friends in new places and perhaps that’s delaying all associated emotions. In fact, I’m with my favorite Fati right now in Morocco, enjoying  North African hospitality and modernity and will soon be with Constantina, roaming the streets of London.

I’ve had no real desire to travel in the traditional sense and this will, no doubt, make good-bye more difficult than imagined. To explain, each page of my travel journal has a quote expounding on exploration. One that I remember distinctly said something to the effect that we best engage in travel when we learn everyone travels differently. There is no set criteria or definition for travel. For many it’s  sightseeing. For others, it’s relaxing with a pina colada. For me it’s getting to know people and myself. (At any rate, I hate sightseeing unless I’m doing it on a bike or in fresh air.) My attachment to my Tunisian home and family is so strong, I can’t fathom not seeing them within the week.

So how did I relish my last days of travel? I don’t quite remember! A blur, like I said. I went to Villa Didon for an event where splendor and corporate drunkeness was almost as fantastical as the view from the balcony. I hosted an Indian dinner party where Omar’s hilarity was the only thing that topped my chicken curry. I went to a soccer game where the lack of an announcer and sunshine made me almost as confused as the flying SOS sparklers and foreign cheers. And of course, I went to Kourbous where the breathtaking beauty of the ocean against the mountains made me break out into yoga.

Kourbous was a last minute plan, that as usual, ended being a gem of a day (especially when in contrast to the crappy weather of that whole week. I’m going to have to say God made Sunday January 31st for me to go to Kourbous.)

I went with Lavinia, Constantina, Mona and Meriem. Kourbous is known for it’s mineral springs and so we all went together to spend the day at the Hammam. The extreme beauty of Kourbous prompted us to make a detour from our spa plan and we went climbing a mountainy hill to get a better view of the scenery.

After a proper workout, we went into the Hammam, the Arab beauty salons. Here, you immerse yourself in a giant sauna and have a “hazra” scrub the bejesus off of your body. While I initially thought the roughness of this Middle Eastern exfoliation technique would probably leave scars, I saw 70 year old women with backs of a 17 year old teenagers. Ancient wisdom is wisdom no?

Soft and clean, I decided I needed a beer upon return to Tunis. Constantina Omar and I went to Hotel International where you can sit outdoors and see a full panorama of Tunis. We drank pale ales, ate olives and talked of love late into the night.

The next day was my last day. I spent it packing and preparing for my goodbye party where I had my most intimate friends come over for a dinner party. It was an absolutely amazing night but not at all an good-bye. I felt certain that I would see each and everyone the next day.

But no, in fact, it was just me , Constantina and Lavi- soon to be just me. They helped me do last -minuters and get out the door with my 30 kilo suitcase. Lavi then went to work and Consty and I bought Patisserie Magenta for a final coffee with Omar at the airport. After paying an arm and a leg for my suitcase, we sat together relishing the famous sweets and each other’s laughter.

I held Omar and Constantine for 20 minutes outside the gates, hugging them and in effect, hugging all my memories of Tunisia, before I walked through the doors and away from my home away from home. My travels here have been to build roots in pots of new cultures, and I will keep them growing strong for a long time to come.