|corsica in the distance|
getting off the boat was almost as confusing as getting on. luckily we had earlier discovered we needed to visit a kiosk to get a form to disembark earlier in the trip. in spite of having messages about various cafe and shops opening in four languages, there was never any indication we needed to go here. it was only our curiosity about why people were suddenly lining up at the photo kiosk that led us to figure it out. most people on board were clearly seasoned ferry-goers so we gathered in one of the cafes with everyone else, waiting to be told we could get off. eventually we did and made our way onto african soil! another continent for JR. just outside the little building we happened upon an ATM so we could get some of the local currency. after a few moments (and thanks to my smartphone) we got our bearings and walked towards the train station that would take us to the main part of town. on our walk we bought a much-needed liter of water and noticed the various dogs and people roaming through the mostly empty streets. finally we found the train station and after determining that it was not in fact abandoned we discovered the tiny ticket window and bought our passage onto the little train (a whopping 18 cents apiece). i was very thankful to be able to speak french again, even though we'd only been in italy for less than 48 hours. after a few minutes it arrived and we made our way across the water and into the main part of tunis. from the stop it was another 15 minute or so walk to the louage station, our bags enduring the uneven cobblestone and dusty streets. we could tell we were close to the louage station as the shops around it seemed much more active. fortunately, being in a big city, we were able to get onto a shared taxi to kairouan right away. we took the last two spots, squeezing into the back seat of the van with our backpacks on our laps.
a little disoriented, we saw a walled structure that we first believed to be part of the city walls. when we walked inside, though, we realized it was a courtyard of what was probably a mosque. we then saw a group of people processing in what we guessed might have been a circumcision. we quickly decided this was probably not where we wanted to be. after a quick look at the smartphone we realized the direction we needed to be going and started off. as it turned out we weren't all that close to the city walls but at least now we knew where to go. we were a bit tired, getting dusty, and probably a little cranky. which is probably why what happened next struck us as so funny. as we were walking we started to notice little piles of wool or bits of sheep hooves. we realized there was probably a festival going on (and later confirmed it was eid al-adha). the streets were fairly empty but at one point we found ourselves behind two young guys on their scooters, one with a plastic bag dangling from the handlebars. the first guy stopped short, causing the guy behind him to swerve suddenly. the bag fell off the handlbars and.. a goat head rolled out. the guy was clearly upset but we couldn't help but find the whole thing faintly hilarious. we were probably a little loopy but it just tickled us. even hours later thinking about it brought us to tears laughing.
at this point you may be wondering why we chose tunisia for our honeymoon. well, we knew we wanted to go a few different places and we decided on the mediterranean as a general location. i'd been wanting to go back to france since i hadn't returned since living there. but we wanted to mix it up too - and i wanted J.R. to experience a non-western country (we're working our way up to india). plus tunisia has the advantage of having beautiful buildings both to admire and to stay in (as you can see below). and while the little arabic i once knew is all but gone i knew we could easily get by with french. the ruins of carthage and the roman empire were icing on the cake.
|our gorgeous room|
|who wouldn't want to get lost in these streets|
|dusk over domes and minarets|
by this time we thought we'd go back to the room and rest for a bit. we relaxed in our room until the sun started to go down and it was a bit cooler. then we thought we'd go up to the roof and enjoy the view. the whole rooftop area is beautiful - covered in small tiles, little potted plants, and wrought-iron birdcages. the lady of the house somehow intuited that we were up there and brought up some citronade, a lemony drink that's a bit sour at first but then finishes very sweet. from here we could see over the rooftops as the sun started to go down. just as it was getting a bit dark the call to prayers began. the principle mosque was first, and after that other calls started to begin across the city. the voices of the various muezzins floating across the breeze was really wonderful.
|kairouan streets by night|
|minaret from the arcade|
|rug shop views|
|typical tunisian door|
|that golden glow|
|kairouan from the guesthouse window|
we were glad to get back to the sleepy town of kairouan although somewhat sad to pack up our things. we'd missed the one mausoleum i'd wanted to see (we did find it but it was closed) - still we made it to the mosque and bought our much-anticipated carpet which were definitely the top two items on my list.