Saturday, August 20, 2011

Week One 2011

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been back in Tunisia for over a week already. I am struck again and again by what a beautiful country this is. The Mediterranean is just a gorgeous in real life as it is in pictures, and this time, I've got a car to get to the beach. And the people are wonderful as well. Perhaps a bit intimidating looking at first, with their dark, serious faces. But when they smile, which they do so easily, it's like the sun has come out. A few words of Arabic - and believe me, that's all I've got - is enough to break down the barrier.
As you might imagine, Libby was delighted to see me. She's keeping pretty close when I'm in the house, too, and seems more biddable. I haven't taken her to the beach yet, because it's Ramadan and it just doesn't seem like the right thing to do, culturally. For one thing, people are more observant at this time, and Islam is anti-dog. For another, the beaches are full of people trying to keep cool during the day at this time when they are not allowed to drink during the day. Sometimes they can be a bit grouchy too because they are fasting. I'll wait another ten days before I take my furry friend with me.

New teacher orientation has gone very well. People are very pleased with how they've been treated and supported, as well they should be! Last night was the first meal any of them has had to cook. The rest of us have taken turns hosting dinners every night, and the school has provided breakfast and lunch in the library every day. That will continue Monday and Tuesday as well. Friday noon, we headed off for a day in Hammamet, staying at the Laico Hotel. It's a beautiful hotel, made to look like a cruise ship inside. Having never been on a cruise ship, I cannot comment on the success of this, but it certainly was beautiful.

I gave a library services introduction on Friday morning, and got very positive feedback from that. It feels really good to be able to offer service this year right from the beginning. The first few months of last year were taken up with learning what I was dealing with in terms of resources, space and time, and I really wasn't on my game until after Christmas. This feels so much better.
I've just come back from the market. Figs and run down your chin peaches are in season. Yum. And I got a few sardines for the grill tonight. Tomorrow night, we're going downtown for the Iftar meal at El Walima and a tour of the Medina by our Arabic teacher Dorsaf. The next night, the Director and his wife are hosting dinner. No cooking for me until Wednesday at least!