Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sand storm?

Now, Sunday night, marks the end of the first weekend in as long as I can remember that I was not traveling or moving in some way or another--from coming to Tunisia, to moving in with my host family, then heading to America and back again, I've had many displacements lately. As I sit at home drinking tea and eating homemade biscotti with my family, all I can say is that this was a restful weekend in comparison.

Today was one of those days that was wonderful for its simplicity. I woke up early this morning to meet some of the other CLSers at the La Marsa train station to go to church in Tunis. I know, I know--church (or anything for that matter) on a Sunday morning is a little unusaul for me, but when I travel, I'm always curious to go to a church and witness a community that I wouldn't normally come into contact with. We went to the French Protestant church just off of the main Avenue of Tunis, my former home. The congregation is really interesting, because it is mostly made up of Sub-Saharan Africans and the whole service is conducted in French, with translations available into English on headsets. At least the first half hour of the service was just song, with everyone up on their feet dancing to the music and singing along. I opted to listen to the service in French, which made it very easy for me to zone out--so, unfortunately I can't tell you what the sermon itself consisted of. But, being the language geek that I am, it was really fun to learn a new context for the French I already know.

We took the train back to Tunis after spending a little time in the city. Oh, what an experience the train back to Tunis was! Getting to the city, the train was almost empty, because we were so early. We rode from one end of the area (La Marsa) to the other end of the line (Tunis centrale) admiring the budding flowers and passing the white walls of Carthage...But on the way back, every rowdy teenage boy in the city managed to squeeze into our car. They proped the doors open with their bodies and hung out of the open doors and windows, all the while chanting and singing. I asked some of the more tame people and they said they were singing popular football songs, since the last game was just yesterday. In case you were wondering, Tunisia tied Nigeria 0-0. It was no where near as exciting as the game I went to, apparently. If you haven't already heard about it though--make sure to read about all of the soccer news that happened just this week on my very continent: Egypt became the first African nation to beat Italy in football history and, in bad news, the recent shooting of a player in Nigeria and the threat from the rebel movement to make the upcoming World Cup under 17 a target is jeopardizing Nigeria's plan to host the tournament. Here, there really is no seperating football from politics.
After getting back, I stopped at the local souk that is held down the street from my house every Sunday. Unfortunately, I couldn't stay for long, because the winds picked up so much that that is felt like a dust storm in the city--gritty bits flying into my eyes and attacking my bare legs. I headed back out in the evening though, after the dust had settled, just trying to get better acquinted with my neighborhood on a peaceful walk. I took back roads in random directions and found a whole different world just beyond the busy street that I live on. Teenagers were taking over the streets playing football with half deflated balls, children rode their bikes and tricycles, laundry was left outside to hangdry, signs were only written in Arabic script (as opposed to the usual translations into French and English on the tourist-populated avenues), the streets smelled of fresh bread, there was a whole store that had nothing but watermelon--seriously, watermelons stacked along every wall, old men sitting at cafes with flowers tucked behind their ears, piles of rubble and debris on one side of the street and beautiful white mansions with elaborate doors and decorations on the other side...I also passed a group of people banging drums and making a sort of yodeling noise as they marched through the streets. The noise is something that you make for celebrations and my host family tried to teach me how to do it, but I don't think my American tongue will get the hang of it soon. But there have been a lot of celebrations this weekend, because the results of the Bac just came out. Eager families of graduating high school students have been celebrating with parties and processions through the streets, like the one I saw. I think the best part though, was that I blended in totally--everyone was just so busy and content going about their daily lives that they didn't think to notice someone they might not have seen before. The other cool thing is that I've lived here long enough (although not very long at all) to start recognizing people and running into them as we pass eachother on our daily routines. I ran into a lot of people I usually take the 7:50 52 bus to school with on my walk today.

As for yesterday--after a full day of finishing my homework for the weekend, I went to a party that one of the host families threw for all of us. Let me just say that I hope to one day be as classy as this family. The father is an artist and has decorated their whole house with his art. It is an eclectic mess of colors and designs, but somehow it works perfectly. They had the most interesting chandeliers made of painted tree branches wrapped in fake leaves--very cool. They also had great food, wine and salsa music! Some of the Tunisians there even did traditional dances for us and the family's huge dog loves to dance, too. He would jump his front legs into the arms of different people and literally dance arm in arm with them--so cute!
And now, I'm off to bed--it's a school night, afterall!


  1. Please post some photos of your families house, chandelier and artwork included. Can't wait to see more.

  2. I'm so glad you're settling in at your new location, Keren. We had Samuel's graduation here in Pittsburgh today, too -- an international coming-of-age event, yes? I'll post pictures on my blog. Have a good week at school!!!! Mom

  3. I agree with Mary Ann! I want to see pictures of the homes your staying at, as well as the families and friends! Especially this home and family, because they sound amazing. Is it just me or are you using an abrev to refer to Tunis(ia)? Keep your eyes peeled for an e-mail; there are some things I've neglected to mention. How many languages are you learning, exactly? You are experiencing too many fantastic things, seriously! But you can never really experience too much of anything fantastic. Gelato is the best! The best is in Italy, I would argue, but then again, I haven't had any in Tunis. It could very well rival Italy's!
    Love you, miss you,