I'm living in Tunisia this summer learning about refugee law at the UNHCR and living in a spectacular blue house in the Medina of Tunis, a UNESCO world heritage site. If you didn't catch the first month, check out Arab Treats in Summer Heat: Tunisia Month 1. Highlights from this month include meeting ambassadors at cocktails, going to Sousse on a whim, dipping my toes in the Mediterranean, exploring historical Roman sites, buying birkenstocks for $1, networking at the UN, surviving Covid, and eating Jeanne's pasta. Top takeaways by week include:
List of heartwarming daily rituals:
List of funny things that happened in bathrooms :
List of "It's a small world" moments:
List of elegant hotels I pretended to be staying at and it worked because I dress fancy:
I have reflected on the fact people tend to take me more seriously when I dress professionally. Perhaps part of the reason is because I look older (just turned 26) so people perceive me differently than when I was backpacking in Ecuador at 19 with a baby face. As someone who has always existed in this world preferring comfort over fashion, I'm only now realizing that fancy pants trick people into respecting me more. I say "trick" because clothing is just fabric we've been socialized into putting values on. It's wild, when you think about it, that we'll subconsciously stand a bit taller when people are dressed nicer, even though we're all just wearing underwear underneath. Well, we hope so anyway.
Week 1: Rooftop Views & Covid Blues
This week took an unexpected turn when I tested positive for Covid on Friday. Before that, though, I had a exciting start to the week at UNHCR, enjoyed my rooftop each day after work, went to the bar "Le Malouf" with my housemates, got bit by a cat and feared rabies, and had the best day ever where I bought a ticket to Rome and went on a serendipitous journey through a carpet bazaar.
A Friday I won't forget:
Recounting my Friday gives you a glimpse of one day of my month which explains how magical things can be when you let yourself experience new cities to the fullest.
After 30 minutes in a taxi with a driver who offered me a cigarette and a bite of his apple (I declined both), I stepped out in the Kasbah area, which translates to "fortress" but in this case refers to the administrative capital of the country. I walked around the Kasbah square then I bought some peanuts and found Tunisair, the plane company.
A useful traveller tip for plane tickets: The cheapest airline from Tunisia is Tunisair. Their reviews are terrible, yes, but they are also half the price of other international airlines. Since I'm headed to Italy in August to see my partner, I decided to buy my ticket from them, even though I expect to be delayed at least a few hours (which is why the earlier the flight, the better chances you have of not being cancelled). If you book on their internet site you still need to go in person to pick up your ticket. And their phone line doesn't work. (Ha!) So I went to their office, and for the first time of my life I bought my plane ticket in person, in cash, at their office in the Kasbah. Watch out for their opening hours!
Fancy Hotels and Rooftop Carpets? Yes!
After buying my plane ticket, I headed into the Medina on a street I hadn’t taken before. The doors were impressive (some of them you saw at the start of this post).
At this point, I REALLY had to go to the bathroom. I noticed a sign etched into a stone saying “hotel spa this way.” I made a beeline. I walked in and was greeted by a spa smell and liked it. The walls were top to bottom tiled with hand painted ceramics. I asked the slick-haired receptionist if I could go explore and he said “bien sur!” At first I thought it was small but it just kept going and going. I even recognized a ceramic turtle from the Sarrasin region! (They have a tradition for pottery techniques protected by UNESCO).
After taking a silly bathroom selfie for my parents, telling them I found them a hotel if they wanted to come visit, I continued up a staircase. There was a fancy event going on, so naturally I peeked my head in to see what was going on. After refusing a tempting baklava considering I wasn't part of the conference in the first place, I turned around and bumped into the man from the Canadian embassy. He is the one who helped me last month by redirecting my email to a woman who invited me to a conference, where I networked and found my current internship. Good thing I refused the baklava, considering he would have known right away I wasn't supposed to be eating it!
The stairs continued to a rooftop restaurant. I walked into the glass-surrounded space to the bartender. With a big smile, I asked if I could see the roof (in broken arabic I googled moments earlier). He happily brought me outside, probably thinking I was adorably horrible at arabic. I had a view of the Kasbah from above. With a 360 degree view of the Medina sprawling below, the waiter asked what I was doing for the rest of the day. When I told him I wanted to go home to drink cold water, he grabbed my water bottle out of by backpack and went to fill it up with the coldest, most refreshing water. Waiting out on the terrace, I gave suggestions to foreigners who'd landed that morning. One month in and I was already a tour guide, giving seasoned expert suggestions.
A useful traveller tip for plane tickets: The trick to exploring places like this is to always have a big smile and ask nicely. The worst thing a person can say is "no" so ask away!
After thanking the bartender, circling back downstairs, nodding at the slick-haired receptionist, and making my way out into the Medina, I bought a lebanese sandwich from a local vendor. It made me smile when I saw him give a small piece of ham to a street cat. While waiting for the sandwich I caved in and bought some postcards and jasmine oil, before somehow orienting myself enough to find the Zitouna mosque. My sandwich smelled too good to wait until getting home. I sat and ate, observing shop owners and mosque-goers.
Quite happy with my after-work adventure, I started in the direction of my house, only to find someone outside the mosque selling beautiful carpets for prayer. When I told him the carpets were beautiful, he told me the carpet festival was happening today. Did I want to go to the carpet festival? Of course I did. When he asked if I wanted to see the carpets at the palace of the king, I grinned, knowing I had to say yes. He called another person to watch his shop, and led me straight, right, left, right, straight, right, left through the winding streets in the souk, or covered market.
The store he brought me to looked like a regular souvenir store from the outside. When we stepped in, I was surprised he didn't stop at the carpets right in the store, but went straight to the back and up a staircase not visible from the street. For some reason I had a gut feeling this guy was a good guy, considering he was walking fast ahead of me, clearly interested in showing me carpets without ulterior motives. I hopped up the stairs to find carpets wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor, of all sizes and colors, stretched out with their minute details: flowers, animals, trees, zig-zags, squares, people. When I stood oggle-eyed, he told me impatiently that we weren't yet at the palace of the king! So I followed him to a giant wooden bed, which apparently used to belong to the bey, or king, whose photo was in the corner. Snapping a quick photo, he told me impatiently that we weren't yet at the roof of the palace of the king! He turned on his heel and I followed.
Leading me up another small staircase draped with more carpets, I realized this guy could be taking me to a mafia ring, but it was too late to back out now. He opened the door to the roof and my mouth dropped. Now THIS was an experience I wasn't expecting. The door opened to a rooftop terrace with some of the most spectacular hand-painted mosaic artwork I'd seen in the city so far. With the sun starting to go down, the mosque music playing in the background, and the laughter emanating from children playing in the street below, I couldn't quite believe where I was.
I would have loved to stay to explore more, but the man told me he wanted to show me his mother's shop. We spiraled down the stairs, out the door, winding between more streets, and found a small shop. He told me that when I wanted souvenirs, I knew where to go. He disappeared into the crowd and left me speechless.
Hammamet Round 1:
Hammamet is one of those beaches everyone tells you you've gotta go to. So on Saturday, I met up with two of my coworkers, Mouna and Ghita, at the louage station (ie. communal minivan station) to head there. After about an hour and a half we were on a LA-like avenue with a view of the ocean sipping on juice and swimming in the Mediterranean. Not a bad life, eh? Most places in Hammamet need reservations, but not these casual beach bars where if you pay for a (often non-alcoholic) drink, you don't need to pay for the umbrella.
Week 2: Sousse Spontaneity & Beach Roadtrips
Week 2 involved an unforeseen but phenomenal trip to Sousse, which included mosaics and an ancient fort. In Tunis I enjoyed sunsets on the beach and played soccer at work. A roadtrip to the beach in Hammamet included seafood and gelato. Fun-filled week!
Let's start this one off with photos from where I worked over 3 days. Not bad, eh? The whole "work from home" thing takes on a whole new meaning in Sousse.
Sousse Day 1: Getting out of bed early is easier when you know you’re off to a beach town. I was out of the house by 6:30 and at the louage station by 7, headed to Sousse with my N-95 mask snug tight while reading my book, “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (shoutout to my pal Sasha for the recommendation). Also, no worries for Covid - this was after the Canadian-government-recommended quarantine period.
Only two hours away, the ride went more quickly than expected, probably in part because I was on the shady side of the van with the window open. For about 12 dinars, or $5 CAD, this two-hour commute was cheaper than my average coffee in Montreal. (Purchasing power is a gamechanger. But I'm also cognizant it's an enormous privilege.)
I hopped out of the louage on a busy road with my oversized but incredibly comfortable blue backpack, happy to have brought the hat I’d bought on the street a few weeks prior. I followed a fearless woman crossing the busy two-lane highway, heeding her protection from oncoming traffic. Even after quite obviously using her as my human shield, I asked her where I could grab a cab and happily slid into a beater with a broken light. Since I didn’t know exactly where I was going, I asked the cab to drop me off at a coffee shop near my hotel that seemed close enough to the beach from the google maps images. That’s how I spent time at a nice breakfast joint, Garanemsa, in time for work at 9, with great internet and chairs whose fabric slightly changes color depending on which way you stroke your hand. Occasionally looking over at the family breakfast happening a few tables over (babies in highchairs are my weakness), I searched where to go next during my lunch break, and took a gamble that the beach was probably a good place to walk to get to my next destination 30 minutes away: a beachside restaurant called Le QG promising good wifi.
The cab took me to my hotel, a B&B Hotel Residence Monia I paid $30 for. It had basic amenities, but was secure and had air conditioning so I was happy. I read my book on the porch before falling asleep. The drive from the port to this downtown area took me on Ave. 14 Janvier and Ave Hedi Chaker, which I later learned looks so modern thanks to the influence of the former president/dictator Ben Ali. Apparently there's a political rivalry between the town of Sousse, Ben Ali's holding grounds, and the town of Monastir 20 minutes away, as that was Habib Bourguiba's (ex president prior to Ben Ali) holding grounds.
A useful traveller tip for "louages" ie communal mini vans: It takes from 10-20 minutes for a louage van to fill up. As I mentioned in the last post, there are 2 louage stations in Tunis going to different destinations, and most other towns have one or two. I ask which louage goes where because it's impossible to know unless you ask.
A useful traveller tip for taxis : If there’s one thing you should know about Tunisia, it’s that grabbing cabs is a sportful endeavor. You always have to be ready to beat the competition or you’ll stand on the side of the road for an hour in rush hour traffic. You’d be surprised how tiny old women wearing flip flops and carrying bags full of stuff can snag your cab from sight. Quite contrary to what you'd expect, when there is a green light on the taxi, that means it's occupied, and when it's red, they're ready to pick you up. When you can't find a taxi, use the Bolt application (Uber equivalent).
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Unfinished reflections on traveling as a woman:
Although it's sometimes bizarre to be the only woman in sight - because yes, you do become hyper aware of it - I've rarely felt in danger in Tunisia during the day. Considering there are 99% men drinking coffee on terraces at all hours of the day, everyone knows women run the country because they're the ones always working. This is the case in a lot of places. Unlike how I felt in India when I was the only woman around and fearing my physical safety, however, I suppose here for the local men I'm just a bit of an anomaly, maybe a cartoon character, when I accidentally ask for coffee in a men's-only cafe with a giant smile and a straw hat traditionally worn by men. My experience in Tunisia has been that people are curious but generally outwardly respectful. Although they could be saying degrading things that I don't understand, or at least thinking them, sometimes ignorance is bliss. Sometimes I choose to pretend to be ignorant so I don't get too mad on my way to work.
Sexism works differently in different parts of the world. Whereas in Latin American countries some men occasionally yell overtly sexualized comments (not fun considering it's safer not to respond), and in Kenya some men study you from head to toe clicking their tongues (I'm not sure what's worse), and in France men pretend to be friendly before trying to brush your body on the train (gross get away), here in Tunisia I feel that most men are either disinterested in me or too surprised that I'll smile and say hi before they have a chance to do it first. I'm not a modest, shy lady.
I don't want to diminish the very tangible fear of walking in the street at night and worrying for my bodily integrity. Trust me: that's awful, and like in any country I've visited, I have had the fight-or-flight response a few times here. On one occasion, when I refused to kiss a man's cheek past midnight, and he asked why, I said "it's past midnight and I'm a woman." He laughed and walked away instead of grabbing me. I felt my insides shaking as I turned the key to my door, realizing he was too close and my shirt was soaked with sweat. In his presence I could pretend I wasn't scared by deflecting him off with a joke and giving him my phone number, but my body knew I was in potential danger. At a certain point, these accumulated experiences make you avoid people's eyes when you walk. That's no fun.
Being a woman also means your brain is considered less powerful because of your assumed genitals, which, let's face it, makes no sense. Women have the experience of being taken less seriously, from political commentary to daily decision-making, than if they were men. Some men will roll their eyes. But no. This is a daily experience. Every woman I know has had the experience of saying something, not getting a response, and five minutes later a man says the same thing and people respond to it. Even if it might happen in different ways to different degrees, it happens in classrooms in Canada just like it happens in community meeting under acacia trees in rural Kenya.
We all have internalized sexism. Everyone. We assume the bank president is a man and that the woman by his side is his wife, and not the reverse. White people who say they don't have racial bias are objectively wrong because we ALL have racial bias, and men who say they aren't influenced by gender bias are also objectively wrong because we ALL have been socialized according to gender norms. Denying our bias does nothing to dismantle it.
I'll close these thoughts by underscoring that sexism exists everywhere. It bugs me when people in North America assume "men elsewhere are worse so sexism doesn't really exist here." I've been to dozens of countries, but Canada is the only country I've ever filed a police report for sexual violence. Rather than deflecting responsibility elsewhere, more productive reflection would involve digging internally and questioning the context one is familiar with before making all-encompassing (and often ignorant) statements about contexts we don't understand. The truth of the matter is that we've got a lot of work to do everywhere.
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The VERY impressive Sousse Archeological Museum facade gave way to a security metal detector - quite common in this country after the terrorist attacks in 2016 - to a counter where I bought my ticket for 8 dinars or about $4 CAD. The air conditioning was a welcome surprise considering I was drenched from my 20 minute walk there. I was quickly immersed in the magnificent variety of mosaics, the plaques in English, French and Arabic, and the phenomenal preservation.
Most of the mosaics were discovered in Sousse and nearby. Common themes included Neptune, fish, intricate abstract patterns, birds, plants, and people. The slideshow above has dozens of pictures, including some of the plaques with information (mostly for my Uncle Gerry).
After the museum I walked through the Sousse Medina. It was similar enough to the Tunis Medina, but this one was on an incline, a bit sandier, and you could walk along the outer wall. I found some lovely coffee shops and went to a rooftop (listening to a work meeting on Zoom, might I add), making my way back through market stalls. I unsurprisingly bought some almonds. Through the Medina and past the Great Mosque of Sousse, I drank 2 liters of water. It was hot.
A useful traveller tip for Sousse coffeeshops : The two coffeeshops I found most inviting in the Sousse Medina were Cafe Aladin with a traditional vibe and a rooftop of the Medina, Cafe El Kasbah which looked like it had a great juice selection in an inviting, open atmosphere. Café Jawaher also looks cool from google images but I didn't see it. For less adventurous souls, the one that overlooked the busy industrial port was on top of a busy tourist shop called Cafe Beb al Medina.
It was too hot to sit in the sun exploring more, so I grabbed a taxi and went to Monastir 30 minutes away, typing parts of a report on my laptop (ha! every moment counts!) looking forward to seeing the sea.
I want you to imagine entering a historical fort filled with well preserved mazes and secret hiding places, second staircases with doors hidden from views leading to new floors complete with strategically placed windows and crumbling sand. Let's summarize my time in the Monastir Ribat pretending I was Indiana Jones. With a mighty grin on my face seeing the sand lining the ground, taking turns into dark alleyways, and discovering hidden sleeping quarters with low ceilings and kitchens in round towers, it was by far the most unexpected highlight of my time in the Sousse area. It also brought back great memories of exploring Cambodian temples.
I also want you to imagine me in my tourist dad outfit you saw above, having jumped in the ocean with all my clothes on. That's how wet I was, quite literally dripping, my pants suck to my legs like a wetsuit, the sand sticking to my cheeks. But the truth is that I hadn't jumped in the ocean at all. The fact I was exploring this area in 45 degrees C or 113 degrees F gave me a new appreciation for the dark corners of the fort, where the temperatures dropped quite a bit. Now you can understand how I drank over 6 liters of water that day, eh?
Sousse Day 3 :
From drinking margaritas to eating chocolate crepes, Chloe was the star of the show in terms of classy outfits... but I was the one with the better beach hair. While Chloe did important work things, I exercised for the first time with proper weights (I've been using flower pots on the roof, so it was a nice change) and swam in the ocean, working on a report from the beach and the poolside.
The car ride home to Tunis was a movie moment. We shared music and watched the sunset as we sped by olive trees and hills in the distance. Sometimes even when you're in a place for not long enough, you can still get a gut feeling that some friendships will last long after you go. And gut feelings are usually right.
I'd like to take a moment to remind everyone that we're still in week 2 of the month, if you'll believe it, so it's time for the UNHCR highlight reel.
I also went out for coworkers after work one evening at Tangerine, a rooftop bar, and then explored the impressive Four Seasons resort before coming back home and eating dinner with my housemates.
Hammamet Round 2:
Considering Hammamet Round 1 ended with Covid, Hammamet Round 2 ended much better. With Chloe as our trusty driver, her, Matthieu, Jeanne, Amani and I enjoyed a lovely housemates day on the beach. We ate seafood, swam, and enjoyed the water. At one point I veered off and explored the Hammamet Medina, which I found a bit too touristy for my taste, but enormously enjoyed my tiramisu gelato as a treat.
The final funny thing that happened this week was that when we came back from Hammamet, we of course went to Porto Novo down the street to buy the best makloubs in town. There had just been a soccer game between Club Africain and Esperance, the two Tunisian teams. While paying for my makloub, I saw a beeping pickup truck with the opposing Esperance flags. They had won, and these fans were showing off in Club Africain territory! I cheered because I didn't care who won, but I was VERY quickly quieted by my housemate who told me that it was dangerous for my safety. I guess this Club African v. Esperance rivalry is real, and because I live in Beb Jedid, I have not choice but to be a diehard Club African fan.
Week 3: Concerts, Cocktails & History
As I've mentioned, I do Italian in the mornings before work. While I often just go right to the office and set up in the conference room before the day starts, other times I explore local cafes nearby. That's how I ended up in the fancy schmancy Berge du Lac hotel doing my morning Italian on Tuesday. I went in, dressed elegant enough to pass as a guest, and they let me in. You know this place is fancy when there's a lion set up outside. I set up my computer with a view of the lake. Not bad for irregular verbs.
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Dispelling "Third World" Myths
Friends and family back home sometimes make well-intentioned yet misguided remarks based on assumptions surrounding this "third world" term and all the baggage it implies. As someone who has lived a bit all over, I often try to dispel myths about the "third world." The term "third world" was coined by a French scientist Alfred Sauvy in a time of Cold War geopolitical tensions between the USA and Russia. The "first world" included countries aligned with the Americans, the "second world" included countries aligned with Russia, and the "third world" was quite literally the rest -- approximately 2/3 of all countries -- used only to define countries that remained non-aligned with either NATO or the Warsaw Pact. Every time we use the term "third world" it means literally nothing other than referring to the majority of countries forgotten by power politics in the 1950s.
As this blog has tried to make clear, generalizations about countries based on "first world" or "third world" categorizations don't make sense. Every day on the way back from work, I drive by fancy car dealerships. The roads in Tunis are better maintained than in most parts of Montreal. People work just as hard to get their wages, and it's a matter of geopolitics that their purchasing power is less, not anything to do with their "traditions." Nobody here has ever tried to "convert" me to Islam, and to the contrary I find North Americans are much pushier about Protestant/Christian traditions.
I hesitate to explain all of this, because quite honestly I don't think these Americanized versions of modernity should be the benchmark for progress. Without diving too deep, I just want to mention that broad overarching statements I've heard over the past month about the "third world" do more harm than good. The term reinforces white supremacy, capitalism and the war machine while all the same contributing to racist assumptions and entrenching poverty in certain regions based on those assumptions.
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Queer Art Evening at the British Ambassador's Residence
Although many enjoyed the photography most, my favourite was a realistic portrait of two women wearing burkinis looking in each other’s eyes. Another aspect I enjoyed from the evening was meeting a fashion designer with impressive makeup, wearing an outfit he designed that mixed aspects of traditional men’s and women’s clothing. A walking art piece! As I wrote in the blog I wrote for the McGill Centre for Human Rights about Queer activism in Tunisia, homosexual relations are criminalized in Tunisia. It was that much more powerful, then, that the Ambassador raised a rainbow flag outside the residence, seen by everyone on the interstate. I spent quite a bit of time with the Argentinian Embassy team chatting away (in Spanish for my Spanish-loving soul) about these and similar events.
There's nothing like driving 30 minutes from home and seeing ancient historical conquests and phenomenally preserved artwork. Carthage was home to the Phoenicians, then the Punics, then the Romans, then the Vandals, and finally the Byzantines. Chloe and I spent Saturday visiting these sites, and met a remarkable man who has been working in mosaics and restorations for 40 years. We went to the Roman amphitheatre, the archeological Carthage site (where we met our friendly impromptu guide), the Baths of Antoninus (my fav), and Byrsa Hill before enjoying a panorama view of the sea from a classy hotel terrace. As a bonus, this impromptu guide explained the holdings of a cavern where the recovered mosaics are kept, where we saw thousands of years of history classified into neat rows. Plus, he told us jokes.
Before we get to the ruins, a huge thanks to Chloe for driving that day and showing me her fancy hotel hideouts.
A useful traveller tip for Carthage: It's possible to do all these sites in a day, and more. It costs around 12 dinars or $5 CAD for a day pass to see the top five. To get around, you can negotiate with a taxi who will take you from site to site for an afternoon for around 30-40 dinars, or around $15-20 CAD for the afternoon. Alternatively, you can find Chloe and promise her sushi.
1. Roman Amphitheatre
It was neat to imagine what went down in this theatre so many years ago. Of all the sites, this one was the least impressive perhaps because most of the steps were re-done. Stay tuned though, because next month I go to El Jem, the most phenomenal amphitheatre in Tunisia comparable to the colosseum in Rome.
2. Roman Villas + Bonus Mosaics
Near the Amphitheatre and a short walk up a slope brought us to a house inhabited by an aristocrat in the third century with mosaic birds in the paved entrance. This region was where all the upper class lived, and thus where many mosaics have been recovered.
We weren't looking for it, but we happened to stumble across an open door in the lower area which opened up to hundreds of mosaics neatly filed in the spacious, long cavern. That's where we met an elderly gentleman who spent the next hour with us explaining mosaics and telling us stories. Chloe asked how they get the mosaics there. He explained that when they find a mosaic, they clean it, pour some kind of glue on top of it with a wire structure on top of that glue. Once the glue dries after a few days, they're able to pull up the whole mosaic for better preservation and restoration. This cavern was filled with mosaics from the surrounding area. Some of them were over two thousand years old, some were 800 years old, identified as belonging to the Phonecian era, the Roman era, or the Byzantine era depending on the patterns used.
This man was funny. He told us to imagine we were elites thousands of years ago, and our neighbor came over and bragged she has just redone her home with beautiful mosaics. What would our reaction be? To convince our husbands we need mosaics too, of course! He was a goldmine of knowledge. He spoke slowly, with intention, and in an impeccable French. He took part in countless archeological digs in Tunisia, and knew the entire archaeological history like the back of his hand. I was overcome with emotion when we arrived at the car because I realized the way this man taught us reminded me of my grandfather.
3. Baths of Antonius
Our next stop was the Baths of Antoninus. This was my favorite, because many of the structures were still intact and we were free to walk around all the sites. The Baths of Antoninus or Baths of Carthage are the largest set of Roman baths built on the African continent, close to 300 metres in length. In fact, they're more of a thermal complex than a singular bath. We explored the ins and outs of the caves, impressed to see Roman Script still engraved on some of the rock. Chloe shared her favorite podcasts. I drank all the water.
4. Byrsa Hill
Drinks with a view
After our hot day filled with history, Chloe brought me to a sleek hotel with a view of Carthage to grab a cold drink, called Hotel Villa Didon. We talked politics, history, and philosophy solving the world's problems with fancy little breadsticks and olives. Pinkies up!
Week 4: Good eats & Electro beats
Finally we've made it to week 4. Pat yourself on the back if you've made it this far. Hopefully you've enjoyed reading as much as I've enjoyed sharing. From tiny shrimp, interesting music, and a random Japanese restaurant, it was a great way to end the month.
That's the beauty of having local friends who bring you to the best digs. For 110 dinars, or about $11 CAD each, we had a feast and each had leftovers for lunch the next day. Word of the wise: people are allowed to smoke inside so I'm glad we left when we did to avoid the fog. 10/10 recommend.
Musical project Frigya
Chloe on a Tuesday: "Want to go to an outdoor concert of an artist duo reviving traditional Tunisian music mixed with electronic beats?"
Me on a Tuesday: "Yes, Chloe, yes I do."
This was the craziest mix of music I never expected. With percussionist Imed Alibi and electro producer Khalil Hentati, the event explored a contemporary and electronic approach to traditional North African percussion. Completely by chance, we ran into one of Amani's friends and spent the night dancing with him.
Considering Chloe and I's track record of going to fancy places all month - from a five-star hotel in Sousse, to the Hotel Didon in week 3 - I wasn't all that surprised when she suggested grabbing a drink after our pottery club at The Cliff. Although the prices might be exaggerated for meals, the drinks menu is affordable and the view is divine.
Day in the Marsa
After a lazy morning hanging out with Jeanne and Chloe in our little courtyard (I <3 my house), we went to Bistro Nippon, which is a Japanese food restaurant run by a friendly Japanese man who re-creates Japanese spices with those available here. My favorite part was chatting with Jeanne and Chloe about life with a view of the pottery on sale. Does it get much better?
After lunch they took me to A mi chemin, a rooftop cafe in the Marsa with a view worth going for. The coffee was sub-par but with this view, it didn't much matter. We worked from the rooftop feeling the ocean breeze and seeing the beachgoers below.
Finally, to finish off the month, please enjoy the following photos taken at A mi chemin which represents the dynamic between Chloe, Jeanne, and I. Jeanne is the responsible adult who pays for our coffee while Chloe and I take silly mirror selfies. I think it's quite representative of our friendship.
From doors, carpets, shrimp, louage rides, mosaics, taxi conversations, music, fancy restaurants, ambassadors, a funny straw hat, beach hair, sunsets, baklava desserts, losing a debit card, sweating, learning history, bartering, meeting Walid the taxi driver, and generally taking each day as a new day, June was an adventure.
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