Monday, October 20, 2008

Tanner in Tunis at 29

My first real day in Tunis I went to go see my friend Margaret at work and finish up a little work of my own. Margaret works for a company called Amid East, which specializes in teaching English and helping Middle Eastern students take the SATs and apply for college. They have schools all over the region, but Margaret is in charge of the Tunis American Corner, which in conjunction with the US State Department, serves as a library and resource center on American culture and academia. We stuck around there for a while but managed to leave early since most people were still operating on the Ramadan schedule. Ramadan combined with summer work hours means that almost everyone in Tunisia leaves work around 3pm. Though Eid had officially been called on Wednesday of that week, marking the end of Ramadan, most people didn’t start their full time schedule until the following Monday (Eid, or the end of Ramadan, is called regionally, when the local cleric first sees the moon. As it is a national holiday, you are never quite sure which day you will be getting off of work so it adds a little excitement. In Uganda they had called it on Tuesday, but in Tunisia they had called it on Wednesday). We took full advantage of this and snuck out early.

Friday happened to be my friend Tanner’s birthday so we set out to find him a cake and decide what to do. While running errands I called the airline and was happy to hear that they had received my baggage in Tunis. We rushed to the airport, picked up a cake from a fancy bakery in a very weird looking isolated neighborhood and headed back home to make some dinner. We decided to have a few of Tanner and Margaret’s friends over to their apartment, have a bit of a pitch in and play drinking games. To be able to do this we needed beer, which in Tunisia is a very difficult thing to do. There is one supermarket that carries beer and it is on the outskirts of town. Margaret and Tanner made a special trip there and as they walked out with two “flats” people stared at them judgingly.

That night we had quite the spread. Margaret and I had made fresh hummus with lemon from the tree in their yard and baked challah, one of their friends brought a rotisserie chicken, and we had the special cake. A group of 6 of us sat outside enjoying the moderate weather, good food and good company. We got to bed pretty late, knowing it would be rough to wake up early for our weekend trip to Cape Bon.

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