Wednesday, March 16, 2005

What to Wear in Tunisia

Chatting online with a friend of mine today I realized that for all our descriptions of Tunisia, people might still not have the sense of it. I'll try to give you some real descriptions of the place in bits and pieces, so you get a better feel for what it's like.

First let's talk about fashion. I'll be sure to follow up with picture in the future, for now I don't have any that suit. It would be helpful for you to know that the steriotyped arab women's wear is not what you see here in the streets. Conservative women wear a head scarf and cover their arms and legs. That's conservative. Some of the old women still walk down the street wrapped in a white cloth to prevent men from being able to determine their figure underneath. They grip the cloth between their teeth.

Liberal women wear a euro-american style of clothing with a bit of a gypsy twist. You'll find them in super tight faded jeans, fluorescent colours, short sleeve tops and hoop earrings. They wear lots of make up - read tons of eye makeup - and generally look very sharp and sassy. Women here were emancipated in the 1950s under the rule of Habib Bourguiba, Tunisia's first president. He was a visionary for the area and other nations are doing a lot of catching up now. So the women here have been safely contemplating western styles for quite a while. When you get a glimpse of the main street you'll see what I mean.

The older men wear pants and shirts like older men everywhere. The younger men have a distinctly sporty look in blazers, knits, jeans and nice shoes. The young people of both genders are good looking with dark hair, brown skin and brown or green eyes. The children are fabulous too and they break almost all of the social customs holding anybody's hand and hugging anyone who asks.

So in case you were wondering, there are no burkas and few headscarves. There are some old traditional clothes here and there, but it's mostly pretty western in style, if not at all in culture.

I'll try to get you some pictures in the near future, but for now enjoy these latest ones!

Two of Tiara's office mates. Sami on the left and Dali (short for Mohammed Ali) on the right. Posted by Hello

Tiara in the courtyard of her workplace - that's our friend Wifak in the background. Tiara makes such a lovely picture! Posted by Hello

The incredible blooming tree that Tiara was talking about. It looks like an apricot to me, but it could be an apple, I suppose. So much for my knowledge of fruit trees! And I still call the Okanagan home. For shame! Posted by Hello

Two friends, Meriem, who works with Tiara, and her husband, Hichem Chichti, who teaches Tiara the violin. Posted by Hello

This is me and our person trainer/ gym owner and operator. I think his name is Mikke, but it might be Mekki... It's been two months since we first heard his name, and we're a little shy about asking for it again. At the time he simply said to call him Mike for simplicity's sake... Posted by Hello

This is the gym that we frequent - pretty small, but manages to meet our needs. Look at Tiara go! Posted by Hello

Loren's self-promoting... He built us a shoe rack! Yay! Less clutter in the hall Posted by Hello

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Explosions Abound!

The tree of yesterday is blooming now. The pettals are falling off and the bees have almost finished their busy work with the pollen. Can a whole cycle happen in just two days? Is that possible?

Pettals are not the only explosion. I think I may have allergies. My sneezes shake the windows in my office and my work mates find it funny, for now.

Things tend to happen fast and violently arround here in spring!

Monday, March 14, 2005

North African Mystery

This morning the sun was shining and the forcast read me a happy little letter of:

Monday 18
Tuesday 20
Wednesday 18

I couldn't have been happier! Outside the morning chill was still in the air, but the sun was shining. Tea was served in the courtyard instead of in the kitchen in celebration of the arrival of spring. I couldn't help but notice two branches on a tree had burst into white blossoms. I stood under it with my hot cup of sweet green tea and smiled, thinking that spring must really be coming soon.

By lunch the tree had exploded. Every branch was covered in white petals and bright green buds.

How is it possible that a tree can go from half blooming to fully bloomed in four hours? Is there something special in the soil? In the air? (I think it's mostly pollutants in the air, so lets rule that out.) What magical property has the Tunisian sun got that makes trees bloom in a morning?

At last an authentic North-African Mystery. I've been waiting on that!

The Morning Haze

There's mysticism and there's beauty to this old country and ancient capital...

But there are also little dirty edges. Like the smog.

Apparently the wind was a little slow last night, and when we awoke this morning, after we had supped our morning coffee ritual, after we had set up and out of the house and as we broke into the morning stillness on our walk to the gym, we were beset by a haze. There's no other word for it. "Fog?" Tiara asked, a slight pleading look to her face. All I could do was sigh. There was some fog, to be sure, as the cars were coated in a soft and sooty dew, but it certainly didn't smell like fog.

Which is not to say that we were suffering some industrial leakage, as likely as anything, it was mostly wood being burnt off from the plentiful construction sites. I assume that burning it is cheaper than loading it in a truck and dumping in it somewhere... Then there's the smell of the gas burners used to harden the masonry, or the cutting torches, or the tar that's heating up for the roads. It's all pretty typical stuff, there's just a lot of it.


Oh well, it's looking like a bright day of over 15 C to make up for the shitty "weather." Maybe we'll even be lucky and get a little wind to let the sun shine...