Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Little Tunis, anyone?

I just wanted to post a quick update........
I'm fine, thanks for asking. The ferry finally arrived at around 9 pm and it took at least an hour to get thru customs and get a taxi into town. It wasn't lost in translation that everyone found it fairly amusing that we had our "fire drill" about 2 hours before ze docked... There was laughter in about six languages.
So...... Tunis, my Tunis.
The first thing I alwqys do is find my internet place, which turns out to be just down the street from my hotel -- the Hotel Salaambo.
Sadly, the first emails I got were telling me that my dear friend Kathryn Skatula passed away on Aug. 20 from her battle with ALS (Lou Gerhig's diseqse). She and I have been great friends for 35+ years... I lived with her the whole time I lived in LA in the 1980s and we have many, many friends in common. I went to see her in March before I left, and we both knew that would likely be the last time. Still, it's never easy and there's a big part of me that wishes I could be there with everyone. Her favorite color was blue, and luckily there is plenty of Tunisian blue for me to look at...... I will remember her always.

I do love that family seems to be so big in Tunisia. Dad's play with their kids and take care of them. It's also more common to see men working at places like the markets and many stores. Even though Tunisia is one of the most liberal countries inthe Arab world, it's still male-centric. That said, you can find women dressed in everything from full Muslim robes down to strapless dresses and jeans... and no one seems to care.
Also, I miscalculated how much French I would need here. Yes, I can get by, but it would're really helped if I had watched more Truffaut films........ Everyone speaks French and Arabic, but not as many speak English as I (naively) thought. Cèst bonne.
I had a haircut here, which wasn't a big deal except the guy didn't want to cut it as short as I wanted and I had to keep asking for more off. He cut my hair "dry" and then washed it after. It was also sort of sensual how he took his time cleaning my ears... Eek, do I have an ear fetish??
The "stylist" unspooled a length of black thread and then pressed it down onto some other guys' cheeks. Of course, I wanted to try that but my guy wouldn't do it! No matter how hard I tried. He scrunched his nose and said alot in French, but clearly that wasn't pour moi. They ALL smoked in there so I felt as tho I had smoked an entire pack by the time I left.
One dinar is worth around 80 cents US, and everything seems to cost one dinar. For a coffee, a bottle of water, the entrance to a museum...... My hotel is 26 dinars, or around $éé USD, and that includes a/c, a TV and shower with a toilet down the hall. Perfect for me!
Not many Americans or even English speakers, at least not that I've heard. Again, I sort of like that. But they love to play the guessing game of "where you from?" It usually starts with German, and then goes to Italian (I wish) or maybe Holland, and then American. Already I've gotten the rude thing where guys come up to you and want to "be your friend" which then means you go to a cafe and buy them coffee or food. Two guys were SO friendly until I said no and walked away, and then said some not nice things at me.... Goes with the territory.
This is a "look dozn" city, meaning that the streets are so uneven and/or broken that you always trip. Not the locals, of course... how do they do it? I think it also comes down to three categories: those where all the lights work; those where half the lights work; and those where they don't even have lights! That's the world in a nutshell.
I will try and post pix but so far this internet place said it was "not possible" for me to bring in my laptop and connect up. But I'll keep trying.
Next up: my first hamman (a Turkish men's bath house), the medina and The Bardo!!!