My dears at Pinnaclife,
It is Tuesday, May 18 and today is the first chance to write to you. AT&T dropped the ball and I am unable to post pictures from my phone. The first three nights we stayed in a lovely hotel in Tunis, the capitol city. It is renovated in its original 1920s Art Deco Style (I will send photo’s when I get back), but of course, no business center or Internet – they are very true to the period! No Internet cafés in Tunisia yet either.
This has truly been a homecoming for me – I lived for several months every year here from 1968 to 1976, then returned several times before 1994. This is my first visit since 1994 and it has changed quite a bit. I traveled this country many times over my first youth, mostly by thumb. Our tour guide has taken us to a number of the archaeological sites, informed us about both ancient and modern day history and the Islamic culture. He shared stories of both his family life and his tour guide life; especially his younger, wilder days in the tourist area.
Tunisia is the home of ancient Carthage with neighborhoods broken up by ancient ruins. We visited the site of a huge Roman bath, then a modern communal bath – the only difference seemed to be the height of the walls and the fact that the “modern” hamman has a roof! The homes of today are still build on the Roman plan; open air courtyard surrounded by a covered verandah and interior rooms off the court for sleeping, kitchen, etc.
We have tried a number of traditional Tunisian foods, dining in fancy touristy restaurants to snacks of bread, cheese, and olives on the side of the road. Yesterday we had a lunch at a family farm and today we visited a family living in a home build over 800 years ago. These are families spanning the generations – today, mom, served by father and son, prepared lunch then we were entertained with Michael Jackson impressions by Great-grandma and her aunt. What a stitch those elderly (85 and 88 years old) woman are. The food was terrific and the entertaining better than most of the big hotels!
I wish I could send pictures of the open air market I went to Sunday morning: colorful stacks of fruits and veggies, artfully arranged raw fish on shaved ice, stacks of cheese and butter, live chickens and turkeys, and lamb carcasses hanging from the rafters – what a beautiful site, excluding the meat, of course.
They tell me my Internet time is up, so I will send more when I can.
Bismillah (goodbye) for now,