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Friday, January 28, 2011

~Steve, I have a Feeling We Aren't in California Anymore!~

Haffouz was now our town of residence.
We were fairly well settled and I into the homemaking mode.
Steve was now in teaching mode and I the lady of my new house.
Our home was situated behind the local general store. Mohammad Ali was the owner of the general store as well as our landlord.
Our front door opened on to the main street of the town. The street was compressed decomposed granite. Above the street were strung wires with the National Flag of Tunisia attached for patriotic decoration.
Women were not seen walking and shopping around the town, mainly just the men were out and about.
I remember that when Steve and I would go out together, we would draw a crowd. Once we invited a group of Peace Corps volunteers to our home, as they were coming through our town. When we went out for a walk together, there had gathered such a group of people around our front entrance, I was shocked as I exited. They probably had never seen so many Americans gathered together .
Out our back was a patio and yard area where there was a chicken coup and rabbit area, owned by Mohammad Ali. A bit further past the coup was a little hut that was occupied by a family consisting of a man, woman and little 2 year old boy and a new baby.
Looming close by was the tower of the minaret where the call to prayer would be called five times, starting at 5am. The call was produced not by a man calling in his own voice, but by a nightmarish whining and scratching of a well worn record that was warped. This sound took quite a few months to get used to and be able to sleep through.
Monday was "Souk" day. Open air market, just like our weekly street fair.
I had learned a little Arabic and felt that I could do this, and I did buying our veggies and eggs and spices.
When Steve would return home for our lunch together, he would stop at the local bakery and pick up a fresh loaf of french bread, hot out of the oven. We delighted in using that delicious bread for our many tuna sandwiches or just bread and butter. You could tell the time of day by the aroma of the baking bread wafting through the air, the bakery being just a block or two away.
Our comings and goings were watched and I can only imagine our where abouts being discussed at the local coffee bars, where the men gathered for their small shots of heavily caffeinated thick tea, and conversation before returning to their homes.
We were home and I soon made friends with my neighbor women.
We were known as Monsieur Steve & Madame Milissa~

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Training in Ain Draham, Tunisia

Training consisted of language and cultural classes that lasted for two months.
During this two month training we moved to three places around the country. At the end of the training we were assigned to a town.
Steve was assigned to a school for orphans who were learning trades.
We set out for our new home having visited our assigned town a few weeks before we were to move.
The major languages were Arabic and French.
Our home was cozy enough and we rented it furnished.
On our weekends we would travel to various destinations and back to visit friends in Tunis, the capitol.

~ Journal excerpt~
It was mid afternoon and the air around me was thick and sweltering. A stream of perspiration was carving a path on my skin, and the only thought I had was where could I go to get out of this heat and cool off a bit.
My arm was heavy and thickly sore from the immunization given to me earlier in the day.
Here we were in Tunis, the capitol of an Arab country, lost, and miles from anywhere remotely familiar to us. On the edge of the Medina, the ancient part of the city, thousands of years old, a literal labyrinth of ancient buildings built one upon another of homes and shops to thousands. One wrong turn and who knows when and where we would end up or come out.

We made our way through the maze of shops closing for the afternoon. The people retreat from the heat until early evening, when one can once again breathe.
We caught the bus to our hotel where we could retreat and cool off and rest. Here I found the true meaning of the siesta, no one can work or function in the stifling heat of mid afternoon .We were situated on the edge of the Sahara and it was mid- July.

Early evening , with cooler temperatures magically transpired into a busy metropolis of people out strolling down the boulevard. Shops were open and music was drifting into the air. The beat of bongo drum and the high pitched whine of a woman's voice singing unintelligible words, all foreign to my senses, drifted about.

We were on our honeymoon~ my husband had whisked me away to this foreign country, and here, we embraced the culture full on.
The fragrance of the night blooming jasmine filled my nostrils as I pulled the beautifully woven flowers up to my nose. The blossoms mysteriously open in the evening warmth releasing their beautiful fragrance.
Thus the beginning of our adventure of life together~

Monday, January 17, 2011

In The Beginning~

In the beginning my husband and my first adventure took us to North Africa.

I am the daughter of a Naval Officer, having traveled around the United States throughout my younger years, I arrived in Southern California, and lived next door to my future husband.
When we first started dateing there was a Doors album that had a song that ended with the lyrics, ~Remember when we were in Africa?~ We laughed and said we would have to go to Africa, so that we could say that to each other.
A few years later we married and little did we know that as we joined the Peace Corps, we would be assigned to Tunisia, North Africa, where we lived 8 months outside the city of Kariouan.
Our first home provided a grand stage for my practice in capturing what I saw and felt in my heart and viewed through my lens.

I hope that you will come along on my journey as I share my travels through excerpts of my travel journals and some of my favorite pictures.
~ And now, we truly do ~Remember When We Were In Africa~