Posts Tagged ‘Travels’

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.


A day

October 26, 2009 1 comment

So it looks like this daily monitoring of my life isn’t going so hott. A strictly adhered to schedule is forever elusive for me here in Tunisia. My goal was to blog daily and share epiphanies but I think, for the sake of regularity, I’m just going to stick with blogging on the banal. Hopefully in time, I’ll be able to recount the past. So here’s a day, a Saturday in fact, that I typed up at my internetless home and am now posting.

The past two nights I’ve had no electricity. My landlord (an absolute darling who lives right across from me) accidentally cut a cable. Quick description of where I live. My landlord has a huge house with orange trees. There’s a large white wall that divides the tenants quarters with his. Everything’s always white here I love it. Just today one of his workers repainted our banisters. Anyhow, so my landlord cut the cable by accident Thursday. I was out with friends getting fat on cheese filled crepes and came back to find a whole lot of candles placed in my door. I arranged the candles all around my house in beautiful hand painted tea glasses I bought as décor. All I can say is that I kind of wish I had a boyfriend here to share that moment with! I’ve never had a whole house lit up with candles before and it was just gorgeous. Needless to say I capitalized with an awesome yoga and pranayama routine.

But that’s what I’ve found here. Anything that could be even mildly irritating always ends up being a beautiful moment. Another instance is today. My boss, Elyses, brought his daughter to work (yes, we work on Saturdays but only half days. Besides I get a two hour lunch break, a delight which I will explain another time). Her name is Mishket, she’s four and already speaks a bit of French. I set her up with some markers and paper while my boss was in client meetings. I noticed that she’s a little uncomfortable sitting with a stranger so I got up to get her a cookie from mine and my other boss, Hager’s, not-so-secret munchie stash. (sweet tooth cravings? obviously a female boss)

So little Mishket follows me then …pees on the floor.

I didn’t know what to do. She peed on the floor! All I could say was ‘ Ne bouge pas!’ which translated in my head as ‘ I better get paid for this’. I cleaned up the floor but her pants were entirely soaked. I remembered that time I went skiing in jeans; wet pants suck.I finally worked up the nerve to knock on Elyses’ door. I didn’t want to say in the middle of a meeting, ‘You daughter wet her pants big time’ so all I said was ‘ Votre fille…” and he came leaping up, sorted her out, and then left us to play.

And play we did!

She was the cutest thing after that slip up. I didn’t do any work for the rest of the day. I just played with Mishoo and learned a bit more Arabic.

I got home later and found Fati, my Moroccan friend, just waking up. She spent the night at mine after going salsa dancing nearby. I really wanted to go but it’s about time I buckled down and started doing my applications. (I ended up reading a book instead but still, I’m getting mentally prepared. )

So while she keeps trying to wake up fully, I hop across the street to a fresh fruit/veggie stand to buy ingredients for our salad. Everyone along this street knows me now, it’s a pretty good set-up. The Baker always has two loaves of brown bread waiting for me in a plastic bag because he knows I don’t like the idea of dust getting on my bread (for all of you who think I’m being a brat, it gets very dusty here!) The quickie mart guy always knows how much money I want to put on my cellphone recharge along with my life story. The Patisserie  knows that on Sundays, I like the dark chocolate mille-feuille, but on Mondays, I like the creame and fruit tartlette. The unemployed men at the café across from me know I’m super bitch if they get fresh with me let alone look at me for more than 2 seconds. Like I said, a pretty good set-up.

Anyhow, to continue, fruit/veggie guy and I have a quick chat. He always teaches me new Arabic words (well, Tunisian). Today, I learnt that lettuce is ‘slata’. Hmmm. Spanish influence, I guess.

Back at home, Fati and I cook up some pasta-a-la-vitesse, our Albanian friend Sonia comes over and we have lunch and a Turkish coffee. Fati and Sonia then leave to  go to the ‘Freep’ which is the Tunisian thrifting place to be. I would’ve loved to go but I am on a mission to get some applications done. I say that tongue in cheek because what do I do from 3 pm on?  I kill some flies, sit outside and write postcards, journal for a bit, meditate in the sun, have a quick chat with my landlord who popped over, make toast and watch half of ‘Auberge Espanol’, write up my grocery list for tomorrow and then….blog.

Procrastination has struck me as never before.

I think after graduating, I’ve completely checked out.  I can’t make myself write one more essay. Hopefully I get a bout of anxiety and put that nose to the grind stone!

Oh wait…yup, here it comes. A decent flow of mild anxiety. Keeeeep itttt commmin’. Off to type!!

Categories: Tunisian Life Tags: , ,