As a teacher, it brought home to me the fact that the school owns me. They can tell me, without consultation, that I shall leave my home, my family, my pets and work for twenty-four hours a day with other people's children who are away from home, some for the first time. I shall travel on buses with them, prepare and lead activities with them, eat with them, do bed checks on them, take calls in the night from them, and start the same again the next day. I shall pay for the care of whatever and whomever I leave behind. I shall not get time off in lieu. When the trip is over, I shall report for work the next day. It was sobering. It was exhausting. As an introvert, it took me fullly three weeks to get my energy back. At least I didn't end up sick as did many of my colleagues.
On the other hand, it was a free trip around a beautiful part of Tunisia, and I got to see lots of things I would have missed on my own.
I was with a group of 42 11-year-olds and five chaperones. For three days we toured the Cap Bon area just north of Tunis. This was Rome's breadbasket back in the day, and it is a beautiful area. I would like to go back some time. On my own.
Here are the highlights.
Day One: Tunis, Korbous (Qurbus) and Nabeul.
Korbous is a natural hotspring that surges out of a hill and mixes with the Mediterranean. The grade sixes make this stop every year, but the organizers never let the children swim. Enough of that, I said, so here we are.
|Very hot water cascades into the first pool. You can almost touch the water in the second pool, but mostly people dangle their feet above it and take in the sulpher fumes.|
|Year six gets right into the swim with the locals. Can you see me?|
|My first pomegranate tree!|
|Student sketching alter stones in Kerkouan museum.|
Back on the bus, and on to Kalibia! (Qalibyah)
fort at Kalibia. Built in Byzantine times, it served its original defense purpose as recently as WWII. Before the trip, he children had been set a small group task of writing skits that expressed their understanding of some aspect of ancient Tunisian history. They performed their skits from the ramparts of the fort, which was a powerful experience for all. (Sadly, I missed all but two because it became my duty to escort girls to the bathroom which was catercorner from the "stage". The photo does not do justice to the number of stairs!
Day Three: La Haouaria (Al Huwaryah) and home!
The falconry at La Haouaria was the most exciting part of the trip for our students. The name represents a linguistic evolution from the Latin Aquilaria, meaning Land of the Eagles. The area is part of the migration path for tens of thousands of raptors every year. There are over 150 falconers in the area who train sparrowhawks and peregrine falcons to hunt quail and partridge, and who vie for the title of Falconner of the Year at their annual festival. (Note: We actually had to split up at this point. A student developed violent food-poisoning or flu symptoms in the night and had to be taken to a clinic. One chaperone spent the night in a chair in the clinic. Another replaced her at breakfast time. This caused an extremely delayed start to the day so we could not all visit both the wind farm and the falconry. My bus got the falconry. Hooray!)
|Given the speed of these birds and the simplicity of my camera, I was very pleased with this shot.|
|Come to papa!|