Sunday, August 28, 2005

Home Again

I have arrived home safely and soundly. After an overnight stay in New York with my roomie and a brief 16-hour stint in the Haven, I hopped on yet another plane, this time to Minnesota. There is so much grass. And pavement. It's crazy. When I get back to school and get my computer set up, we will have a lengthy catch up session and I'll tell you a few stories about my last two weekes (and, more importantly, weekends) in Tunisia. I'll also upload and post some of my pictures (finally).

Until then my friends.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Last post?

Hey all! Sorry it's been so long since my last post! The past several days have been absolutely nuts and the next several promise to be even moreso! This may be my last post from Tunisia since I am heading out of town in approx. 48 hours!!! Needless to say, this experience has been one of the most amazing and formative of my life in so many ways, and I promise to fill you in on the last two weeks of my life here when I have more time and a reliable internet connection. I miss you all so much, and many phone calls and emails will be in order when I get back to the States.

See you soon!!!


Monday, August 15, 2005


I'm back now.

...tired...hungry...sand everywhere...

but very pleased. I had a blast in the south.

If there was ever any doubt in my mind that I would come back to this country some day, it's gone now.

More after food/shower/sleep/shower/school.


Thursday, August 11, 2005


I will be traveling in the south of the country until Sunday or Monday evening, and I will probably not have access to a computer until I get back. You should hear from me again on Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Jameel Jiddan

This weekend was amazing, and the next two promise to be even better! Now that I have become aware of what little time I have left here, I feel a sort of urgency because there is so much to do and only two more weeks to go! I'm looking forward to coming home, but there is much of Tunisia that I haven't seen and experienced yet.

After school on Saturday, the whole Yale gang plus Emma came out to the Salambo for beaching and dinner. We had some great chwarma pizza. It was nice to get together with everyone and just chill and talk and smoke the nargile.

The next morning Eric, Ann, Katie, Lorainne and I woke up early(ish) to catch a louage to Kerkouane where we visited the Punic ruins, which are situated on an extremely beautiful stretch of coastline.

Stumbled upon by accident by French archaeologists in 1952, Kerkouane offers a unique insight into the Punic world. A rather mysterious place, Kerkouane was abandoned in its prime in the middle of the 3rd century BC and never reoccupied. Unlike Carthage and other Punic sites that were rebuilt on top by subsequent civilizations such as the Romans, Kerkouane remains remarkably pure.

I was struck by how amazingly well-preserved the foundations of this little town were. We walked up an down its streets, sat in its bathtubs, admired its humble but intricate mosaics and meandered through an ancient colonnaded courtyard. The nearby sea was alternating patches bright blue and turquoise, and the water was clear and cool. On this day the sky was cloudless and a startling bright blue and the strong breeze made the mid-nineties temperature particularly pleasant. It was an absolutely wonderful visit.

After lunch we took a cab to the outskirts of El Haouaria, famous for its falconry and a series of man-made caves predating the Romans but used by them to mine sandstone. While the mines were fascinating, the best part of this stop (and one of the best of my entire journey) was the view. The cliffs towering above the sea, into which the waves crashed with a particular vengeance on this very windy day, were absolutely enthralling. I can say with nearly absolute certainty that this was the single most beautiful landscape that I have ever seen in my life. I am completely in love with it. If I ever return to Tunisia, Cap Bon will most certainly be my destination of choice. I look forward to showing you the pictures we took at this location... they are quite dramatic.

This weekend (which actually starts tomorrow) I will journey to the South with Nick and Mark (my men from Malta) as well as Lea and a few other Europeans I don't yet know. I don't know exactly where we will go and what we will do, but I'm okay with that. The following weekend, Adam, Katie and I are planning to return to Cap Bon and walk from Kelibia to El Haouaria. The journey should take almost all day. We do like the walking. On Sunday, a few of the girls and I will climb the two-horned mountain (if possible). After that I have one or two more days of school and then I'm off! It is unfortunate that I won't get to see Sousse, Monastir, Hammamet, Tabarka or Bizerte, but perhaps that means I will just have to return to Tunisia again in the future. Insha'allah.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Big Trouble in Little Tunisia, Part Deux

...So after the traffic cop pointed us back in the direction from which we had just come, we became immensely confused and frustrated? How could we have missed a Roman amphitheater? There was something wrong with this picture. We retraced our steps along the forest to the sign which we had previously come across. After taking a good long look at the sign, which actually pointed at a 70 degree angle (technically into the adjacent forest) and not exactly along the perpendicular road, Adam said, "Okay. We are going 20 feet into the forest, and if we don't find it, we are turning around and walking home."

The prospect of walking all the way back to Salammbo with nothing to show for our efforts but sore feet and a story about sheep was not particularly appealing to either Tom or me, so we headed into the forest after Adam. After a few yards, we came upon a gravel road and soon thereafter a few cops sitting by their vehicle. As it was my turn to do the talking, I approached the men to ask if there was an uod concert and/or an amphitheater nearby (in Arabic and a little English). After some serious lack of understanding, one of the men said the Arabic equivalent of "Please, go ahead," and gestured in the direction of the clearing behind him.

As I peered around the cop car, an expansive mass of ruins in a long oval located in a deep depression in the ground stretched out in the dark before me. Adam and I tracked down Tom, who had started to walk ahead, and the three of us descended down a steep slope into the ruins. There was certainly no concert here. There wasn't even a light besides the flicker of the nearby buildings through the trees. Luckily it was a clear night and the moon illuminated the ground around us relatively well. We hopped up onto a ledge overlooking the dark arena, and Adam said something along the lines of: "They must have meant the other Roman theater."

So, our options were these: stay and explore the ruins in the dark or begin walking towards the other theater. By this point it was already about 10 o'clock, so we decided to stay and see what there was to see of this amphitheater, and the decision was a good one. Tom illuminated the various tunnels and rooms with the flash of his digital camera, while Adam discovered a key light on the end of Nora's cell phone. With these two devices, we thoroughly explored the various shafts and crevices of the site. It was definitely reminiscent of the Colosseum at El-Jem in that one could tell where they kept the animals and prisoners before releasing them into the arena, and one could imagine the crowds sitting up in the stands, peering down from all sides at the "entertainment" taking place below them (although this particular amphitheater was not quite as large and imposing as the Colosseum). At one point we ventured down this completely pitch black "creepy tunnel" (as Tom called it) and narrowly avoided one of the largest spiderwebs I have ever seen in my life!

After we explored the area to our satisfaction, we headed back toward home. The walk back was a mere 25 minutes, and we stopped on the way to buy big bottles of water, Orangina and Pineapple juice. As Adam is never one for taking the same road twice, we took a different path back, mostly through residential neighborhoods. Although we weren't bothered at all, we were definitely stared at. Adam made a interested comparison: "Picture three Japanese businessmen in suits walking along the area near the bottom of East Rock in New Haven carrying big bottles of juice," he said. "That is how strange we must look to these people." I think he was probably spot on. When we finally returned to the apartment, Nora was waiting in her pajamas. Her dinner had run late, and she and Frank never made it to the show.

"How was the concert?" she asked smiling. Where to begin...

Saturday, August 06, 2005

A little rain must fall...

As it turns out, there will be no belly dancing and no phone for me this time around :( Too bad.

Other than that, life is great. I couldn't ask for a better Arabic class, and living in between Salambo and Tunis is really working out nicely. Lea and I are having a lot of fun hanging out together in Tunis, and Emma (my friend from Scotland) and I spent the afternoon in the suq yesterday and had a wonderful time (until we started getting frustrated near the end, but I have found that that is pretty much inevitable).

Also, I have found traveling partners for me trip to the south next weekend!!! They are two handsome and strapping men from Malta who are studying in the level below me at Bourguiba and living near Lea at the mixed dorms. Not only are they in the army (which I figure means they will know how to take care of themselves and me should a threatening situation arise), but they are also pretty adventuresome and really nice. In fact, I had selected them earlier this week as potential escorts before they even asked me! I don't exactly know what to expect other than a great adventure, and I am thrilled at the prospect!

Today I'm hitting the beach with the kiddos, and tomorrow the girls and I (and maybe Eric and Olavi) are taking a day trip to Hammamet and Cap Bon!