Sunday, July 5, 2009

Why can't everyday be a weekend?

If there is one thing I've learned, it is that Tunis is overflowing with things to do, new experiences to have and feelings of home while abroad. This weekend was the perfect summer weekend--good friends, late nights, exploring and lots of shopping! Because yesterday was the 4th of July, I really couldn't have imagined a better way to celebrate than with the all-American pasttime of shopping. At 9 in the morning, some friends and I met up to take the train into Tunis, where we spent the morning/afternoon shopping. We walked through the maze of shops for hours, but went with the hostsister of one of the girl's in the program, so we never got lost and always found the best deals thanks to her haggling skills and actually being able to speak Arabic. The best part of our crowded souk adventure was visiting the old palace of the first president of Tunisia. It has now been turned into a mini shopping center, but you can still climb the spiral of stairs up to the top to find the most picturesque view of Tunis. One of the girls I was with studies fashion and was very interested in finding design shops in the area. We ended up stumbling across one where wedding dresses are custom made, embroidered and beaded in the most intricate designs. It was really breathtaking work.

After a picnic in the park overlooking governmental buildings to one side and the souks to the other, we headed back to al Marsa exhausted and dehydrated. I did, however, discover that there is a bus to and From downtown Tunis that stops less than a block from my house. Score! After a much needed shower, I then spent the afternoon at a friend's house, eating fresh almonds and Mars bars that his host mom gave us--we thought it was random, too. That night, we went down to the al Marsa beach and hung out under the stars, amongst the craziness that is al Marsa on a Saturday night. After 1 in the morning, there were still whole families complete with young children out and about. But it was nice to know that we're living in such a bustling place full of life--who needs Tunis when you have al Marsa?!

Today, after my sorry attempt at doing homework in the morning, I went to Carthage. It is a place I didn't know a lot about before visiting (or after visiting due to a lack of signage anywhere--I think I was in Carthage, anyway), but I did know that it was a must-see. I wondered the city for about four hours with a friend. The ruins are scattered around the city and you pay for a pass to access them all. Of course, it is impossible to see it all in one day, but we managed to visit four sites--the museum, the Roman baths, the theatre, and the old villas. Seeing only the crumbling dust-colored ruins of the town, it was hard to imagine a whole different world existed on the same soil. I was lucky enough to be with an archeologist (this program really brings such a sprinkling of people together) who had really interesting things to say about the tombs we were able to see and the artifacts they had excavated. We also accidently walked past the president's palace and had some scary experiences with the guards there, their guns flopping in every direction.

And now, I'm back at home with my family, already nostalgic about the great weekend and looking forward to more adventures (...I think I'm going to my first Tunisian wedding tomorrow!).

1 comment:

  1. Keren?? In short-sleeves????

    HI. I'm finally catching up on all you've been doing. Sounds amazing. You certainly don't shop much! I miss you.