War, what is it good for?

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May 14th 2011
Published: May 17th 2011
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I know there was some head shaking and tongue clucking when people heard we were not changing our trip after the revolutions began in January and after the situation with Bin Laden. The concerns were valid and appreciated, but we are happy to report we have been having a great time in Tunisia. We have also felt nothing but safe as we move about the country.
We have been following the 9 pm curfew and listening to suggestions from hotel staff and the like. However, the signs of revolution are not hard to notice while we are moving about the country.
We shared an elevator with a man who had his arm in a cast. Dad made a casual, concerned comment about it looking painful and he informed us it was the result of getting shot! He said he is Libyan and this was a result of the fighting going on in his country. He was not sure about whether or not he could return to Libya once he had healed.
We drove by the Libyan Embassy and found it fotified by razor wire and military. We also found people protesting (in a friendly manner) waving the Libyan Revolution flags. We honked as we drove by and they went crazy with excitement.
There was no denying the political climate in Tunis when we visited the medina and main shopping/dining boulevard. The government buildings were surrounded by armed military and large swathes of razor wire. There were van loads of police all around the area. Seeing residents eating at cafes and shopping amid the razor wire could make anyone take a second look!

We were unknowingly in the main square and prime protest area on an afternoon when it was rumored there would be a gathering (protest). Ooops! But we did not find any troubles. We did however witness a young man being arrested by 4 undercover police and that turned into quite a bone-chilling moment. The entire incident happened a few feet in front of us and the three of us simply stood there with our mouths wide open in shock!
According to a local, the young man was being reprimanded for refusing to leave the steps of a building after repeatedly being asked by police. As the four cops attempted to handcuff him and take him away, he screamed in what seemed like complete terror. He used all of his strength to resist the arrest and even grabbed onto a light pole to keep one of the cops from carrying him away. His screams really caught the attention of other locals and a group began to gather rather quickly. The group then started following as the police were taking him down the street. It was a fascinating and heartbreaking scene--we wanted to follow with the group, but thought it better judgement to go about our way!
The following morning, video footage of the area and of people gathering was on local news. Unfortunately, we could not make any sense of what they were saying on the news.

We continue to see graffiti of "liberte" and "f&éà Ben Ali." We drove through a town yesterday with a great amount of graffiti and noticed all of the banks were covered in razor wire. Soon we will visit the little town where the revolution began.

Thank you for being patient with the hit-and-miss internet access and trying to type on these unfamiliar keyboards! Please keep sending comments--they are the only English words we can read and the only information we get from home!

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17th May 2011

the submit bar appears barely!
Vals, you should have gone to a paper before you left and got them to hire you as a foreign correspondent, then you could have written this trip off on your taxes. Kyle would have been your interpeter and your Dad security guard:) I believe the last figures were a 100,000 Libyan refuges in Tunisia and this now includes the minister of energy/oil who defected today. Happy traveling, Nancy
17th May 2011

Liberte' over and over
What an exciting recap of being in a place where liberte' is being actively sought in the streets. I watched Freedom Riders: American Expereince last night and draw parallels of those brave folks, in 1962, who fought against the ugly racism of the time simply by showing up in the streets.
17th May 2011

Where are you?
Too, scary for me. Was this written in Tunis?
19th May 2011

Jeez, you guys are really living history over there.

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