Saturday, December 10, 2011

Day 72: Pilgrim Wonderland

Just a quickie again (and on a French keyboard)

Back on the trail and loving it. It didn't take too long to exit the city noise and confusion for the farm fields and country lanes. As the sun was beginning to sink, I entered a village, sat down for a rest on a molded plastic chair in front of a small shop to give some thought to how to best find a place to sleep for the night. The solution presented itself. Stress-free. The small crowd that gathered in amazement took care of my needs. Nasrine, a very elegant and mature 11-year-old served as translator and hostess. It seems that outside the city, the generation people my age who grew up just after their independence, don't speak French. The current youth of Tunisia learn Arabic and French equally in school and English as the third language, and by the time they graduate high school at 18 learn Spanish and Italian additionally. Remarkable. I think Nasrine is at the head of her class.

Welcomed into the family home, in a short while a trip was made to the local police station to register the foreigner staying under their roof. Quite proud was the family to state and record their hospitality. Nice. They all took good care of me, sharing the family meal of macaroni and spicy tomato-chili sauce, olive oil, and bread, and pulling out another mattrass. Simplicity.

In the morning, side pockets full of snacks for the day, I came to Ouhdna, an archeological site of an evidently grand ville of Roman antiquity. I saw the columns on a hill in the distance and hiked across a fallow field to get there. An arena, work shops, apartments full of mosaics, a temple... tons of history at my feet. Workers chiseling away at their restoration projects shared their tea and bread with me during the short morning break. I left as a busload of Japanese tourists arrived.

The peacefulness of the quiet country lanes reintroduced me to pilgrim life. Village people call me to sit in the shade and have cold water or hot coffee... idyllic now as in the Roman times. Ah.


Anonymous said...

Back on track, still SINGLE, and enjoying the marvelous adventure on a "dime!" Happy trekking! And..I pretty much have bitten off my nails reading blog...we will need 007 soon (to get you on a contraband boat!)lol!

The Solitary Walker said...

You must be relieved to be on the move again. It does my heart good to find you meeting with such wonderful friendliness and hospitality.

Sheila Phelan Wright said...

That eleven year old must be incredible. Beautiful blog. I, too, am happy you didn't succumb to the marriage proposals. Surely you would want us there for the event. Good for you for being a registered guest with the police. You seem to attract protectors wherever you go. love and luck

Compostelle 2008 said...

I like the little boat you drew on the map of the pilgrimage towards Jerusalem! All my positive thoughts are flying across the Atlantic with hope to keep you going! Very selfish of me, I like to follow you.

Michèle, Ottawa (ON) Canada

Amy R said...

Ann, what country are you in now?

Pim Van Hemmen said...

We're reading your blog with baited breath and great joy. looking forward to the next posting. Pim and Jeanne