Monday, December 19, 2011
Day 81 Seashore of Yore
(just a quickie again...)
Having tons of fun and sun walking along the coast - right along the coast...feet in the lapping waves on the beach, and still, the Roman ruins are here to be tripped over. The Tunisian hospitality is right in keeping with their Arabic heritage. A few times I~ve come to a city with a French church and enjoyed the more standard pilgrim welcome. Mostly, though, as the sun begins to sink, I find some friendly women, the younger ones are almost certain to speak French, and soon enough their politely sparring with each other for who has the greater dibs on me. Few women my age or older speak any French at all so my Arabic has been improving by necessity. Women rule the households, so there~s not much gained by asking a man to help me find a place to sleep for the night. It~s all interesting.
By now I~ve had couscous prepared in a number of ways - all good - though the standard food of everyone is spaghetti. Pumpkin, potatoes, long skinny mild peppers, tomatoes, onions and garlic round out the veggi line up. Little meat, and generally chicken is the standard fare, and being along the sea, lots of fish. Small ones, fried whole in olive oil. I~ve toured a few more olive oil factories, the traditional ones just like what I saw in Morocco, and similarly the end product is dark and strong. Lots of other crafts are practiced in the seaside villages I~ve walked through - basketry, stone masons hammering away on columns and other decorative construction pieces, weaving, pottery, woodworking... the doors to the courtyards are generally open during the day and if I peek in as I pass by, it usually turns into a tour of their handcraft operations and a small meal, invitations to stay a few days, discussions of relatives suitable for marriage...
Dates are in season here at the moment and make for good pilgrim food though at the cost of sticky fingers... and on the subject of sticky fingers, walking through a crowded medina in Sousse, I was relieved of both the tiny penknife I keep hanging on my belt and the folding reading glasses in the pocket of my hipbelt. I was occupied protecting my leather pouch that holds my credenziale and my passport with one arm and my hiking poles with the other. How the sticky fingers got passed my guard, I don-t know. Practice I guess. I think the medinas were designed for the benefit of thieves. Ah well. Something good will come out of it.
I set my route based on a Roman road that crossed North Africa. I~ve been finding bits of the Roman road and a lot of ruins, some now protected with archeological status, others just out among the sand dunes. Many of the towns that are hot spots now have been continually occupied since the time of the Romans, so they~re not so much ruins as just remodeled. The architecture really hasn~t changed much. It~s funny to look at building methods when weather-tightness is not an issue. There~s a lot of interesting things around and the area makes for pretty good pilgrim land. I could recommend that they tidy up the trash, though, it~s quite a problem in the towns as well as the countryside.
Yikes, gotta run now, but I~m heading toward Gebes for Christmas - there~s a small European and West African community there, so there~ll be a few Christians around to celebrate with. It will take another week and a half to get to the Libyan border and see what they say about entering. Dear Santa, I~ve been a very good girl and would like a visa for Christmas!