Edit Blog Post
Published: January 16th 2008
Finally written by: Carolyn!
Hello fans! So hitherto I have been super duper lazy and let Robin take the reins for this crazy little travel blog of ours. But I figure it is about time I do something too! Though of course, in the laziest manner possible. So what I am going to do is, post - with slight alterations - the epic emails I have been sending to my family. Sneaky sneaky, right? Bet you didn't know there could be ninjas even in Tunisia!
Thus, we begin...This email is from about 4 days in, which would make it the 7th or 8th.
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Greetings from tunisia! This country is amaaaazing, I love it and we've already done so much even though its only been 4 days. These keyboards are tricksy though - they re made for arabic - so i apologize for any mistakes.
Everyone speaks French and its fantastic for my francophilic self - i think my French is actually going to improve far more than my arabic! Its driving robin crazy but I love it.
Our family is fantastic, extremely warm and loving. We have three tunisian sisters,
13, 17, and 18, and then we have another sister who is a year-long exchange student from Norway! Her name is Steine and she's super. Her english is also very good and she has been teaching us some fun norweigian words. "shikly" means very, so we always use it... i am shickly shickly hungry! or i like you shickly shickly much! haha, its great.
The government here is going to great lengths to impress us and keep us safe. We have a man with us from the Ministry of Youth named Moiz, who is young and super funny and wears badass aviator sunglasses. He says he's just here to help Khalil, but we're all convinced he's with the secret police and is working as our personal bodyguard.
Tunisian people are amazing, theyre all really nice and friendly and have great senses of humor. it is a good little country.
Today we're going to the american embassy, which should be interesting. So far we've gone to sidi bou said, an adorable little town famous for its white buildings and beautiful blue doors - were going back tonight with our family - to carthage, to the american cemetary, and lots of other
places. It's all been amazing.
One more thing, the people on this trip are fantastic! We're having an amazing time together. I'm so happy! This trip is unbelievable.
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Ok and this is the second one, which i sent yesterday.
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We're about to go to bed but i wanted to give you a new update! We left yesterday morning for Dougga, a site of ancient roman ruins, and it was magnificent. we drove through these amazing mountains, covered in trees and white and red villas and goats and sheep - and we had an awesome stereotypical developing country moment, we were driving on the bus and suddenly we were surrounded by a flock of baa-ing sheep! it was just like a movie, but way better, because no movie could ever convey what we see here; its just too fantastic.
Dougga was super interesting, you would have thought it was Ireland it was so green, but the red and orange stone gave it away. after dougga we drove through even more mountains, and it was amazing. it was sprinkling out, just misting,
and we were high high up in the mountains, going around these exilirating hair-point turns at breakneck speed - our driver, siid muhammed, is a true Tunisian in that he knows no fear - and we round this corner and suddenly there is the most magnificent rainbow we ve ever seen! it was incredible, it was so so bright we could hardly believe it was real, and we pulled over just to stare at it longer. As soon as we drove away it disappeared, so we decided it was a gift from the tunisian government, and we ve been meaning to send Ben Ali a thank you note. Being the lovely man that he is.
And the hotel we stayed in was unbelievable! it was 4 stars, and was right on the Mediterranean, and it was all glass and marble. I loved it, but at the same time I felt extremely guilty. I know that no local tunisian could ever afford to stay there, especially because the local towns are some of the poorest in the country. There is such a split here between the rich and poor, just as there is a split between the Tunisians who are
more French and the Tunisians who are more Arab. The country has been dealing with an identity crises for years, ever since the french occupation, and even longer. Tunisia has a history of being tossed around between empires and conquerers. Its very interesting watching all this from the viewpoint of an objective observer.
Et maintenant, a funny story! I mentioned it briefly in an email to dad, but I think it deserves further fleshing out. We had a free afternoon Friday, so I went to the Medina - the main city of Tunis - with some friends to do some shopping in the Souk. The Souk is composed of these very very narrow winding streets jam packed with venders and customers, and its super interesting; I had never seen anything like it before coming here. So my friends and I were walking and I saw this beautiful green scarf and stopped to look at it. And the vender swoops down and tries to make a deal with me, and as we re talking he's coming progressively closer and closer to my face, and then he takes my hand, and is holding it to his heart and trying to get
me to pay more. But then his hand - holding my hand in a vicelike grip - starts traveling rather lower than his heart! and before i know it my hand is atop something that it should not have been atop of, and all the while he is promising that he "make special deal" for me, and trying to kiss me at the same time! At this point my friends Bess and Raheem realized what was happening and came to rescue me - although not before the man forced Bess to take a picture of him "with the princess". It was quite the experience; but the moral of the story is...I got the scarf for half price!
Thus, the group has christened it the Rape Scarf; and the other scarf I bought: the Consentual Scarf!
Ha, I love my friends here.
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So there we go, that is what I have documented so far, and I hope it satisfies your lust for Tunisian stories! I love and miss you all and will see you soon - wherever you all are, take care and make good choices!
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