Anecdote from Tunisia

In true disheveled-journalist fashion, rediscovering a brief blurb I wrote while traveling last year.

I was going over some notebooks from last year to revise an article I’ve been putting off when, in the margins and on scattered pages, I found a small passage I wrote while traveling through Tunisia last January.

It’s not much, but it’s nice to revisit some forgotten details of a place I really loved visiting.

Arriving in Tunis a couple hours late, I managed to find my way to the hostel through the labyrinthine souks — thanks in part to a painstakingly written list of directions on an airport napkin and more than a little luck.

Flash forward to the next morning at the train station, where it took a great deal of hand gesturing to complement my abysmal grasp of both Arabic and French to purchase the correct ticket to get me to Carthage (and back again). The train was packed with teenagers, mostly in western dress, iPods in hand listening to what sounded like the latest Top 40 hits.

Noticing a lack of or illegibly written signage at each of the different platforms, I counted the stops to the station in Carthage. One. Three. Four. Was that seven, or eight? I found myself lost in the interactions I couldn’t linguistically understand, and the unfamiliar landscape outside the train car windows.

Stepping off the train into Carthage, the scenery felt simultaneously alien and as comfortable as my grandparents’ retirement community. Ignoring the patrolling soldiers and their semi-automatics, it could have been just miles away from the orange groves of central Florida. The clean houses, maintained lawns, the quiet neighborhood only occasionally punctuated by the sound of a passing car. The smell of sun on skin and dirt — the sun, sun, sun. The heat of it beating down on my black jacket despite a lingering winter chill (it was January, after all).

I had been given advice on how to catch a two-hour taxi to ferry me around the city, but first I decided to do a little pedestrian exploration. Following the slope of the road, I ended up face-to-face with the Gulf of Tunis on the Mediterranean Sea. The water, mirroring the hue of the sky, made my home ‘Carolina Blue’ look downright dusky.



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