Hi All, I received this message today from Melissa Enderle. She wants
everyone to have her new address in Tunisia!
Sax Arts & Crafts
My new address is: email@example.com
Thanks a bunch!
Hope all is well with everyone. I am now in Tunis, the capital city of
Tunisia. The sprawling city has over 1.5 million people, but it doesn't feel
like a metropolis.
I actually live in a suburb northeast of the city center, closer to the
ancient city of Carthage. I live in the bottom floor of a three-story
whitewashed building. Green lattice shutters provide the only "screen" for
the large glass windows in the 2 bedrooms, study room, bathroom, dining
room, living room, and kitchen. Marble-styled stairs are found going between
the dining room, living room, up to the bedrooms, and up the main entrance,
framed by an arched entryway. Bougainvillea cascades down the buildings,
beautifying the architecture and providing some privacy. Clotheslines are
strung across the arched or columned balconies. My balcony overlooks the
residential street which contains several parked VW's and other small cars
next to (or on) the cobbled walkway. A man wearing a red fez cap pedals his
bike, hoping to sell the fragrant jasmine flowers sticking up like lolipops
in the carefully balanced woven platter. So far the sky has been blue and
the temperature ranging from warm to comfortable. I have slept with the
windows open, benefiting from the breezes and fresh air.
I went to school on Wednesday through Friday, hoping to get the computer
lab set up. Unfortunately the workers were not done with the floor and
painting the walls in the now-bare narrow lab, office, and drop-in lab. The
200-student PK-12 2-story school is in a similar architectural style as many
buildings of the area; whitewashed, arches, brilliant blue door and
trimming, and decorative tiled stairs. Each day I met more teachers, some
also new, others returning overseas hires, and still others who are Tunisian
or have married Tunisians. Everyone has extended a warm welcome, helping
making the transition more smooth.
So far I have made several runs to Carrefour, the French equivalent of
Wal-Mart. In this huge store, one can find grocery items, fresh fruits and
meats, spices, clothes, electronics, and other household items - that is if
you can deal with the crowds! While walking through Carrefour and in the
adjoining mall, men, children, and women wearing a variety of clothes styles
could be observed - ranging from the slightly more traditional Islamic dress
(some women covered their hair but not their faces) to sleeveless Western
tops, to casual shorts. The store took credit cards - a good thing, since I
had some large purchases including a microwave (a necessity since my stove
is not working) and a stereo. The mall also had an ATM machine, enabling me
to receive some Tunisian Dinars, the currency of the country.
After school and our Carrefour run, several of us went to a quiet
restaurant. I had a cream sauce with shrimp served over a plate of pasta. We
then headed a few kilometers until we reached the Mediterranean town of Sidi
Bou Saïd. This picturesque little whitewashed village is set high on a cliff
overlooking the Gulf of Tunis, about 17 km northeast of Tunis. We did get a
peek at the narrow streets with its signature blue doors, but didn't stop
since it was filled with tourists. Once the tourist season dies down, I
definitely intend to spend some time meandering through the streets and
taking some photos of the village, sea and beach with my new digital camera.
Driving a little further, we stopped at La Marsa for something to drink. The
fact that beer (and other alcohol) is available is just another indication
of the more progressive, liberal nature of the country. At the numerous
small sidewalk cafés, men chatted as they smoked. Others walked through the
streets, taking advantage of the pleasant evening climate. As we drove back,
we could see some Roman aqueducts, remnants of the once thriving settlement
here. I can't wait to see more!
This morning after cleaning the house (I don't have a housekeeper yet),
I went for a walk to get a feel for my neighborhood and surroundings. Like
most of Tunis, buildings were being erected and roads built. Passersby
smiled and replied as I said "bonjour" to them. Road signs, billboards, and
store signs were often written in both French and Arabic, the two main
languages of the country. I then used my French knowledge to purchase some
prescriptions and buy fresh produce at a small shop. Although friendly, the
people seem slightly more shy and reserved. We'll see what happens when I
get a better feel for the language(s) and meet more people.
Alas, the evening is making it difficult for me to type on my balcony,
so I guess it's time to wrap this up. I hope to hear from you!