Friday, October 29, 2010

Duty Free Heaven

Did I tell you that Bronwyn and I cook like...two people who cook a lot?  Because we do.  I have greatly missed the World's Largest Felt Collection and all my yarn and fabric and crayons and sparkly beads - basically anything I can get crafty with - so cooking has been a great creative outlet for me.  Bronwyn is a fantastic cook and we drool over cookbooks and her Bon Appetit magazines looking for great recipes to try out. 

Today we hosted a luncheon for some of the ladies here.  We cooked and cooked and cooked.  Oh, did we cook.  Most of yesterday and all of this morning.  Someone walked in said, "It smells like an American kitchen in here."  Which it totally did.  An American kitchen in the Fall.

Our menu:

Ricotta, Proscuitto and Roasted Tomato Tostini
Strawberry Lemon Ginger slushie punch
Pumpkin Soup (You guys, this soup makes me feel like I just won something.  It's that good.)
Butternut Squash Gnocchi
Parmesan Rolls
Lime Coconut Cookies

It is not always easy to find ingredients here.  Canned pumpkin, for instance, is a miracle.  Who cooks down pumpkins anymore?  Tunisians, that's who.  Or they must because it's certainly not canned.  And their pumpkins are slightly different from ours, in that they're green on the outside and have about a foot more meat on the inside, which ups the roasting time to 20 gajillion hours and then you're left with 20 pounds of roasted pureed pumpkin in your freezer.   

We got a lot of stuff from the commisary at the embassy but were still missing a few ingredients so Bronwyn got directions to a duty free shop out by the airport that was rumored to have hard to find American food.  So we headed out a few days ago.  Remember when you were a kid and you'd be thumbing through the Highlights magazine at the doctor's office and it would have those games in it where there would be a bunch of jumbled curvy lines and you had to follow the line to figure out which ends connected?  That's how the streets are here.  And only half of them have numbers on them.  So we had the address and the name of the place and we knew we were in the right neighborhood but we could not find it at all.  We just kept driving around and around.  So we asked a cop, who drew us a map while standing in the middle of the road and directing traffic.  And we still couldn't find it.  Then we asked a mechanic we found down some side street and he pointed us right back to where the cop sent us.  Which was this unsigned, gated, guarded building.  We drove up to the gate and the guard waved us in, like he was expecting us.  We figured out that he saw our diplomat plates because apparently only diplomats can come in.  So he opened the gate and pointed us towards the underground parking.  We headed down and then another guard lifted another gate, and then another.  It was like some kind of espionage film.  All we were looking for was molasses but you would think the building held the secrets to cold fusion with all the security they had going on there.  We half expected someone to slide a door open and ask for a password.  There were still no signs indicating where the shop was but we were directed to an elevator which took us up to the second floor and when the door opened it's like we'd walked into Duty Free Heaven.  There were counters for Dior and Prada and high end electronics.  And there were enough cigarettes and liquor to really make you believe you found your way to the Tunisian speak-easy. 

But no molasses. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I bet she was a spy

The other night I went to a classical guitar concert up at the cathedral on Byrsa Hill

I sat next to a woman who was wearing:

1.  An amber ring the size of a volleyball
2.  A turban
3.  A fur trimmed cape, with ties that had fur pom-poms.

She reminded me of the lady in the Beatles' classic Help!

Only in black instead of pink.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Winds of Dougga

Bronwyn and the boys and I headed out to Dougga for, wait for it, more Roman ruins.  Because we just can't get enough.  Dougga is about halfway between Tunis and Algeria.  There was talk of me driving out by myself because the boys weren't feeling so hot the day before and after driving out with Bronwyn I can tell you, I would have had to do some serious pantomiming to find my way there.  How would you act out, "Ancient Roman Ruins of Dougga"?

The drive was very lovely though.  Rolling hills filled with fruit orchards.  We stopped at a fruit stand and bought some pomegranites, oranges, pears, and grapefruits.  Don't they look gorgeous?

The kid running the joint spoke a little English and seemed really proud to use it.  He kept pointing out fruits and saying their English names.

Dougga is set up on a hill overlooking a valley and the site is quite large.  It has a few temples and an amphitheater and lots of other buildings that I can only guess what they were.  7-Eleven, maybe? 

It took over 2 hours to get out there and we only stayed for about 45 mintues because, Holy Roman Empire, it was COLD.  So, so cold.  And the wind.  Oy, the wind!  No wonder the Romans left the place.  You fool yourself, living on the Mediterranean, into thinking that every day is sunshine and gentle breezes, so we just were not prepared for that kind of assault.

But hooray for my snuggle buddy.

Side note:  Doesn't the Winds of Dougga sound like a great band name?  From the 70s maybe?  I'm picturing lots of hair and synthesizers.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom!

How about a non-Tunisian blog post.  (Boy, what a relief, right?)  How about something really important?  Something like...


Since I am in Far Far Away Land and can't be there for her birthday celebration I thought we could celebrate right here.  So let's all give three cheer for my beautiful, wonderful, funny, sassy, all-around terrific Mom.  Feel free to post your love and admiration for her in the comments section.

I love you, Mom! 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mad Dancing - the Universal Language

A few weeks ago I noticed a billboard for the Mika concert here and thought it would be fun.  I like Mika.  He's just the right kind of Euro-Pop that is fun to dance to without being utterly obnoxious.  But I don't think I would go out of my way to see him back in the states.  Tunis, on the other hand, sure, I'll do that.  Alone even - as I couldn't find anyone who was free to come along.  So I hopped in a cab and headed into the city and using rudimentary French and exaggerated hand gestures managed to get to the place.

Oh my, was it fun.  I mean FUN.  Me and 5000 Tunisian teenagers and their good natured parents - plus the six British kids I chatted with in the security line.  There was a balloon drop and a confetti gun and a giant inflated pink high heel that was bounced around the floor and strobe lights and glow sticks and at one point a line up of what I can only describe as can-can dancers in a Dia de los Muertos parade.  And Mika was wearing sparkly sneakers and was a master at the rock-and-roll split kick.  Everyone I sat around was friendly and fun.  This cute couple next to me would lean over and scream something French in my ear then I'd lean over and scream back in English and then we'd shrug and do mad dancing.

I came home smelling like an ashtray (It was so smoky in the arena you would think they had turned on the fog machine.  Let's hear it for American smoking laws!!!), and I think I may be permanently deaf in my left ear, but what is lung cancer and hearing loss to a night of fun?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Jumbo Shrimp

Henry and I headed down to the marina this afternoon.  Once you get inside you can go to the left, which takes you past the fancy yachts, or to the right, which takes you to the dry docks and fishing boats.  Henry, being a Man of the People, chose the right.  We played around the rental boats and threw rocks in the water and watched the fishermen clean out their nets.  While we were playing on the stairs at the gas pumps this Tunisian man came up and started talking to me in German (?)  Fortunately my 4 years of German helped me barely make out that he was telling me he spent 6 months in Germany.  Then I told him I wasn't from Germany but from America and he said, "Oh!  I was in America too!  Miami.  1969."  Then he held out a jumbo shrimp (again, ?) and made a face at Henry. 

That smile of Henry's is a miracle.  Every other picture I have of him looks like he's saying, "Put that camera away woman and get me some more rocks to throw in the water."

We watched the windsurfers for a while and then headed back.

I don't generally take pictures of cats but this one just looked like he was living the life.  I mean, how great is your life if you get to curl up on a fisherman's net and dream about eating faces. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More Roman Ruins, and a Comb-over

My friend Sun and I took the train down to see the coliseum in El Jem.  Okay, technically it's an amphitheater but we'll call it a coliseum just to make the purists mad.  It's second to the one in Rome in size and better preserved.  El Jem is about 130 miles from here and I thought the landscape would vary a little since we were headed so far south, but no, it doesn't.  It's 130 miles of olive groves.  And more olive groves.  And look over there!  Another olive grove.

There were also wee villages each with their own mosque and several flocks of sheep.  Some day I'll tell you of my plan to become a shephard.  It just seems like such an idyllic life.

When you get into El Jem you walk about a block from the train station and the coliseum is right there.  It is pretty spectacular.

They held chariot races and gladiator fights here.  And now they hold music festivals.  Which seems a bit like a let down.

Hi Mom!

They had a few signs saying things like "Stairs" and "Chairs" and "Toilets"  but what we really wanted was a sign that said, "This way to the underground tunnels where they used to house lions and slaves."  We found them without it.

Here is Sun going towards the lights


After the coliseum we followed the one sign to the museum which ended up being across town.  They have some really impressive mosaics that were found in the area.  All the signs for the pieces said things like "Found on the land of So and So."  Can you imagine being an olive farmer and one day you're out pruning and you stumble across an ancient Roman mosiac?

Here are some killer ducks and dolphins.


And here's a tiger eating the face off of a slave.

Or, translated into modern times, a feral cat eating the face off of a tourist.

It was so nice to have someone to see the sights with.  I do a lot of things on my own here and while I'm a pretty solitary creature it's refreshing having someone to talk to.  Sun was great to have along.  And bonus, she speaks French.  I did zero pantomiming today.  I forget how much easier it is when you can actually communicate with people.  Thanks Sun!

And finally, I saw a lot of impressive things today, but probably the most impressive was this comb-over.  You can't tell from the picture but it sparkled in the setting sun.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Canned Tuna

1.)  Suddenly it's fall in Tunisia.  It's been rainy and cold for a few days now so we've spent a lot of time at home so this afternoon I took Henry out for a drive.  We stopped off at Byrsa Hill where there were about 10 tour buses parked.  Henry loves buses, and tractors, and cars and trucks so I decided to ask (through elaborate pantomiming) one of the bus drivers if we could walk around inside.  The following is the imaginary conversation Henry and I had based on what I actually said and what he said through his very meaningful looks:

Me:  You want to go on the bus?
Henry:  Are you serious?
Me:  Come on, let's ask the driver if we can go on?
Henry:  If you're kidding we're through.
Me:  I'm not kidding.
Henry:  I mean it, woman.  You don't joke about these sorts of things.
Me (to the bus driver): Can we get on the bus?
Henry:  Let's do this thing!

He then proceded to run down the aisle and sit in one of the seats and die from sheer bliss.  For ten minutes all he could say was, "It's a bus!  It's a bus!  It's a bus!  Bus!  Bus!  Bus!  Bus!  Ooh, it's big!  It's a bus!"

2.)  You'll never guess what the most popular food is here.  Canned tuna.  I'm not even kidding.  You know how in normal grocery stores they have about 2 feet on a shelf dedicated to tuna?  Here they have an entire aisle.  Top to bottom running the entire length of one side - all canned tuna.  They put it on everything.  We went out for pizza last night and half the pizzas on the menu had tuna on them.  The dip they brought out with the bread was olive oil, harissa (a yummy local hot sauce) and tuna.  Crazy-ville.

3.)  The teenagers here love Lady Gaga.  Regularly I hear packs of them singing out, "Alejandro, Alejandro, Alejandro!"  Also, I was noticing how many teenagers there are here.  Hoardes of them!  And I thought, is there some kind of teenager boom going on?  How come there are so many?  And it struck me that maybe I'm seeing so many because they all walk home from school and hang out outside instead of being chauffered around by their parents or playing video games inside and I suddenly wanted to high five them all.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Garage Sale

The embassy organizes a garage sale a few times a year.  There are always people coming and going so the people leaving take the opportunity to get rid of their stuff and the new ones get stuff they probably can't get here.  George Forman Grills for example.  Local employees of the embassy and their friends and family can come also, which means I got to practice my hangling skills, only on the other end.

Since Bronwyn and Chris are leaving in a few weeks to come back to the states before going on to China we had a table loaded with stuff.  The people started coming around 9 and by 9:30 we were in the weeds. 

The Tunisians shop owners use this bargaining technique that makes it seem like they're giving you the deal of a lifetime.  "Okay, for you,  ONLY FOR YOU, I'll give it for 10 dinar."  When you know that 3 dinar is good enough.  They use the same technique in buying as well.  "Okay, because I like you, I'll give you 2 dinar for this shirt you paid $100 for."  Like they're doing you the biggest favor taking it off your hands.  We were hard core sales women.

I don't actually go to garage sales back home - I have enough junk of my own, I don't need other people's junk too - so I don't know if this is standard but Bronwyn heard that in the past people have sold half used toiletries, like shaving cream and shampoo.  So she brought some just to see if we could get anything for them.  I think we sold almost every one.  We even had some bronzer lotion that some women looked like they were seriously considering. 

Henry was left in the care of one of the embassy kids.  Before he was taken off to the park he was running in front of cars and throwing rocks at people.  He's 2.  Sam doesn't have the motor skills necessary for throwing things so he got to stick around and looked cute.

Several people asked if he was for sale.


On an outrageously different note, I just saw a recipe called White Chocolate Walnut Blondies with Maple Syrup Butter.  This is a first - a dessert recipe that actually made me gag a little.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Magic Hair

For the record I would just like to say that my hair looked amazing yesterday.  Remember how I gave up doing it?  Because why straighten your hair when it's only going to look like a tumbleweed 2 minutes after you're done?  Well, we've all be a little sick around here for the last few days and trapped in the house and yesterday afternoon I finally made it out.  And because it felt nice and cool and autumn-y without a hint of humidity I thought I'd chance it.  Plus, I was tired of the ponytail.  It sometimes makes me feel defeated.  So I straightened it and it looked like magic.  My bangs alone were a revelation.  Not a tumbleweed in sight.

So my magic hair and I headed out to Sidi Bou Said to get a ticket for a concert that night and as I walked past the mosque I noticed how pretty it looked in front of those very dark and ominous clouds.

That picture was the last thing I did before finding myself ankle deep in water.  The skies opened up and the street turned into a raging river.  I took shelter with about 20 other people under a tree but it ended up being a mistake because trees do nothing when rain is coming down in sheets and sheets.  I was soaked through.  

And my hair was no longer magic.

But after about 10 minutes the sun came back out and I managed to make the most out of the day by convincing this guy that I was sad and pathetic and wet and so he should give me a good deal on some ceramics.

He did. 

For the record my face looked a lot better before the rain too.  Remember, I'm drenched in this picture.

I went into another shop and this older guy kept saying, "Princess!  I love you!  Let's get married!  We'll live in a big house!  Okay?  And now I'm going to give you the best price."  And then he clamped his arms around me and kissed me on the cheek several times and I was about to do the Vulcan death grip on him to break away except that I was in the midst of a very shrewed business deal.  I managed to break away and make the deal.  Even as I was walking out of the shop he was still calling out, "Let's get married, princess!!!"

The concert was sold out, by the way (international pantomiming exercise for the day:  "sold out") but Walli still managed to get me a ticket.  It was the same concert series in the same place as the Occitan musicians last week (big beautiful mansion overlooking the sea, ah)  but this was traditional music from North Ireland.  Very Riverdance.  They ever had a step dancer.  And this time they spoke English so we could understand most of it, considering how thick their Irish accents were.  The whole thing made me want to watch Waking Ned Devine.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Thank you and goodbye

Bronwyn and I did some grocery shopping at Carrefour tonight and I decided that I needed to try some olives, since I'm in one of the hightest olive producing countries in the world.  So I was at the stand, figuring out which of the dozens of varieties they had to try when a man started chatting with me and found out I don't speak Arabic and said that he was a professor of Arabic and would be happy to give me some lessons.  At least that's what I think he was talking about.  He kept saying "Professor.  Arab.  Happy for me to you."  I politely declined. 

But it reminded me of the Arabic lesson I did receive the last time I was at the Medina (Remember that day?  I bet a certain date farmer does.  Doesn't it just break your heart that he's back at his date grove now, picking dates and lamenting to his camel about what could have been?  Let's hope he finds a nice girl soon.)  The trick to the Medina is that you have to have a strict no talking policy.  Because if you start talking to a shop keeper they'll try to reel you in for the hard sell.  So you just have to be a jerk and walk on by, even as hundreds of them are waving and smiling and saying, "Madam!  Please!  Hello!"  That part kills me, because I really like to be friendly to people.  I like to smile and say hello and possibly start up a conversation.  But those converstations always turn into, "I won't let you leave until you buy this bag made of real camel leather."  So I just have to gird up the old loins and keep moving.

But this one older gentleman said in such a genteel way, "Madam, please, may I ask you a question?" that I stopped and went back and started chatting.  He said he liked to practice his English and also liked to teach English speakers a little Arabic.  I saw right through him, but he was such a nice non-pushy man that I couldn't help it and sat down in his little shop for a lesson in basic Arabic.

He took a little piece of paper and wrote out an English word and then would say the Arabic word and write it out for me, then would write it in Arabic and help me with the pronunciation.  And then we talked about the history of the city and the Medina and had I seen all the mosques inside and how was I enjoying my time here and did he mention that he had a cousin in Philadelphia?  We laughed and joked for a good 10 minutes until he got down to business.

"My dear friend, would you be interested in some perfume?  This camel saddle?  These earrings?  This pot?  This ceramic veiled woman?  This silver olive tree?  This jeweled tobacco case?  These leather slippers?  This postcard?  This necklace made of real berber silver?  This hookah?  This mirror?  This platter?  This desert rose?  This authentic bedouin vest?  This pencil with 'Tunis' etched into it?"  He came very close to pointing out every single item in his entire shop to me.  I mean, he was really making an impressive effort to get me to buy something...anything.  And really, I'm sure I would have been able to find something worth buying in there except that I was all out of cash and time.  He made the error of pointing out things near the exit and I made my escape. 

But I said, "shokran" and "bisslama" beautifully as I walked away.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

How would you act out "No Flash Photography"

I went back to the place where I saw the concert the other night and toured around.  As I got inside and started taking pictures one of the guys working there said, "Something something something in French no photos something something." To which I asked, "No photos or no flash?"  To which he replied, "Something more in French something flash something."  It was hot and humid and to get to the place you have to hike up a hill so I was just too tired to pantomime out "flash yes or no" to the man so I took all these pictures on the sly, without my flash.

Here's where they put on the show.  It's in one of several courtyards.  I'm going again on Friday night to an oud concert.

There was a band rehearsing some sort of Arabic music that you could hear throughout the whole place.  Nice soundtrack to my visit.

They had these alcove beds in every room.  Even in the music room and what looked to be the bathroom.  That is a tradition I can get behind.  Elegant lounding.

I just really liked this picture.

I'm going to say this about the good people here, they take great pride in ornamental details.  Everywhere you look (and I'm not just talking about this house but everywhere I've seen) things are filigreed and scrolled and texturized to the hilt.  I love it.

I found the sauna.

There was also a bed just outside this room.

It was a gorgeous place and the grounds were amazing as well.  And the view was killer.  The people who built it seemed to have a firm grasp on the Life of Elegant Leisure. 

Afterwards I strolled up the hill to get some lunch and stopped off inside one of the shops and bought a few things from this guy.

What a wee little fella!  His name was Amin.  I could have folded him up and tucked him into my pocket and all day long he could have said, "What beautiful eyes you have!  I make you special deal!" 

Friday, October 8, 2010

I won!

I'm a winner! 

The beautiful and talented and wonderful and New Zealand-y Angela over at Striking Keys picked me for this week's Friday Favicon Freebie.  I didn't even know that a favicon was a real thing and not something out of a sci-fi novel until she started this weekly giveaway.  It's those little icons that show up next to an address in the address bar.  Before I just had the boring Blogger icon next to my name but now when you have this blog open you will see a cute little word bubble.  Perfect, right?

Thanks for classing this joint up Angela.  Let's get together for cookies and cocoa some day.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Pretty Good Afternoon

Today I sat on the beach on a giant over-stuffed pillow reading Dickens and digging my feet into the super soft sand.  A waiter brought me a lemonade and a thin crust margherita pizza and said "Bon Appetit".  Then I swam in the Mediterranean.  The seaweed looked like pieces of lettuce.  On my way out of the water a man asked me if I wanted a camel ride along the shore.  I declined because that sounded unpleasant in a wet swimsuit.  But I thanked him and nestled back into my giant pillow.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I promise, I haven't shimmied once.

1.)  I'm beginning to think that maybe in the Arab world a girl sitting alone on a bench is the equivalence of a shimmy in a halter top and go-go boots, and possibly a "Hello there, sailor."  Because yesterday afternoon I was sitting on a bench overlooking the water, reading a book and enjoying the solitude and two guys came up within 20 minutes of each other and started chatting, and then asking if I would like to go for coffee, and then inviting me over for couscous later on, and asking if I was married.  One even asked if I would consider marrying an Arab. 

2.)  I went to a concert last night with Walli, who teaches math here at the American school.  She's 70 and she has traveled all over the world.  I want to be her when I grow up.  It was up at Sidi Bou Said in this glorious old mansion that has been converted into a museum and music venue.  I'm determined to go back so I can take pictures because it was unbelievable inside.  We had no idea what type of music we were going to be hearing but were pleasantly suprised to hear these guys who sing traditional Occitan songs.  What, you don't know what Occitan is?  Neither did I.  And I didn't actually find out until I got home and looked it up because all the chitchat in between songs was in French.  They must have been hilarious because they had the crowd rolling.  And at one point I made out that they were talking about the Dalai Lama and then everyone broke out into sincere and earnest clapping.

3.)  I have given up on doing my hair.  It is so humid here (well, certainly more so than back home) that my hair refuses to stay straightened.  It just isn't worth the effort.  So it's usually back in a ponytail or I throw in some defrizzer serum to dry naturally and let the tumbleweed take over.  Speaking of humidity, it is so humid in the embassy gym that I think my eyeballs were sweating this morning.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Baby Kissers

Baby Sam and I had a date this afternoon.  We headed down to the marina and sat and looked cute and read books and drank Orangina.  Well, I did the reading and the drinking.  He did the sitting and looking cute.

If you're ever thinking of bringing your baby to Tunisia I should warn you now - the good folks here are serious Baby Kissers.  Oh, they love to kiss babies.  Particularly other people's babies.  I had the cover up on Sam's baby carrier and - this is no exaggeration - 10 total strangers saw his little feet peeking out, came up, moved the cover back and proceded to kiss him all over.  Women, teenage girls and 2 grown men all came up to smooch him.  Now, I can't blame them, he is incredibly smoochable.  And I'm a Baby Kisser myself.  Never ever strangers' babies, but if I'm holding a friend's child I'm going to kiss them.  I don't know how people can stop themselves.  Here the thought doesn't seem to cross their minds to stop themselves.  It's mostly, "Must kiss the baby.  And kiss him again.  And again.  And I'm pulling myself away now.  But just one more.  Maybe five."  They would coo at him in Arabic or French and then turn to me and say something that I hope was along the lines of, "What an adorable child" instead of, "Don't mind these cold sores."

I should point out that, other than the whole "Where has that mouth been?" concern, I actually find it really sweet.  I don't think there is anything wrong with a culture that finds babies irresistible.


And here is where I give you the devestating news that I would have posted some adorable pictures of Sam but my computer is refusing to recognize my camera, which means I can't upload pictures, which means that my life is over.  Who's going to pray with me that this problem miraculously disappears?  That's right.  All of you are.  Thanks.

Update:  That was quick.  And miraculous.  Behold.

Can you blame them?  Seeing his face makes me almost want to go downstairs and wake him up so I can kiss him.  Except that he put all of us through the ringer tonight to get him to sleep.  But I'm happy to report he's cute even when he's screaming.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Further stories from the Medina besides my pending nuptuals

1.)  I was waiting for the train to take into the city yesterday and I noticed that this guy kept walking back and forth in front of me.  I didn't think too much of it except that he was wearing a Members Only jacket.  Rad.  A train started to pull in and everyone got up to the edge and it just kept on going and everyone walked back to their spots in the shade like it happens all the time.  I feel like back home this would have incited angry protests.  And a letter writing campaign.  And possibly a rumble.  As I am not the rumbling type, and I left my fisticuffs at home, I went back to my seat and started writing in my journal (Oh, I am totally that girl.  The one who sits all pensive and dreamy-like in public places writing deep prose in her journal.  Gag, I know.  But true.)  And the guy started his walking again.  I thought that maybe he had resless leg syndrome or something.  I was busy writing when another train was pulling up and didn't notice so the guy walked over to me and said (I'm guessing here, as it was in Arabic) "The train is here."  So I smiled and said thanks (I'm really hoping that's what he said.  For all I know I could have thanked him for saying, "Hey, Journal Girl, those pants make your butt look huge.")  When I got on the train he was already on and hovering over a seat and when he saw me he moved aside and offered it to me.  Nice, right?  But again, I didn't think much of it.  Until the next stop when I saw that he had gotten off.  How do I know this?  Because he was standing next to my window waving to me.  Not a frantic, "You're fly is down" wave (although maybe that's what he was saying to me on the platform) but more of a "Good-bye friend," kind of wave.  And then the train started moving and he walked along with it until the platform ran out, waving the whole time.  I waved back, a little mystified by the whole thing but charmed none the less.

2.)  I found the textile section of the Medina.  Including a yarn store. 

Did you think that I wouldn't?  They didn't have a wide selection but what they did have was nice.  You pay by the kilo and it's super cheap.  Do you know how much a kilo of yarn is?  It's approximately a whole lot of yarn.  So the guy was a little disappointed when I asked for a quarter kilo.  Here, go ahead and figure out how to act out "quarter kilo".  It is not easy.  I made up for it by buying more yarn.  And I plan on going back.  They weigh it out using a scale and actual weights.  It's very old worldsy.  These were the nice fellas who helped me out.

Mr. Guy on the Right refused to smile so I had to make a silly face at him.  Worked like a charm.

3.)  This is Rambo.

Well, that's what he kept calling himself.  He owned a jewelry shop and he caught me looking at some of his stuff on a booth he had a few feet from his shop and he walked me over to it to see more goods.  On the way over he kept introducing me to everyone.  Except that he never asked me my name.  So he called me Shakira.  I haven't figured out why.  "Hey, Mohammed, this is my new friend Shakira."  "Shakira, this is my brother."  His jewelry looked like everyone else's but he and his brother were hilarious.  They come from a family of 10 and we swapped big family stories.  I was in their shop for about 45 minutes and left with some nice pieces and when I walked back a few hours later on my way out they were hanging around with a bunch of other shop keepers and they all yelled out, "Shakira!"

4.)  I'm sure you thought it was just a stereotype of the Arab world, but it's actually true...they wear harem pants here. 

I've seen loads of them in all different fabrics.  Denim even.  If I didn't think they would make me look round and stumpy and all together ridiculous I would get a pair because they look really comfy.

5.)  The last time I was in the Medina it was Ramadan so all the restaurants were closed.  But this time I walked by a restaurant/hooka bar.  It was in a covered alley way so it was dark and mysterious and there were about 20 men sitting in the alley smoking their water pipes and drinking coffee.  It was classic.  I wanted to get a picture but I was afraid the flash would kill the vibe.

6.)  I have done very little eating-out here and it has always been with someone else so I suppose I wasn't prepared for the amount of work it would be to get some lunch.  But I was famished so on my way back to the train station (and before I met my Berber date farmer boyfriend) I stopped at a shwarma place.  Have I mentioned shwarmas?  Gosh, they're good.  They're the ultimate arab street food.  It's basically a burrito with Mediterranean spices.  But I've heard that it's hit or miss.  Mine was a miss.  But before I found that out it took me forever just to get it.  The place was a mad house and no one spoke even a little English and it eventually took about 30 minutes to get it.  But I had a moment in the mean time.  Because I do a lot of solo stuff I have missed the part of traveling with friends where you see something funny and you give each other the look.  You know that look, like they recognized it and you'll talk about it for years after.  I almost always have someone around me who gets it back home.  So whenever I see or experience something funny I always look around to see if anyone caught it.  No one has so far.  Until the shwarma place.  There were about 7 guys working the stand and 1 woman.  The men were all hustling around, ignoring people and just yelling at each other.  Just ordering and paying the guy at the register took about 10 minutes because he kept yelling at all the other workers.  So at one point I looked over at the one woman and she was looking at me with the Look.  She totally smirked and rolled her eyes, as if to say, "Men.  What are you gonna do?"  And suddenly I felt like all was right in the world.   I sipped on my Orangina (how much do I love that they sell Orangina here like they sell water.  It's everywhere) and waited out the rest of the 20 mintues in peace. 

7.)  This post is already waaaaaaay too long so I'm going to skip the stories about the Arabic lesson I got and my attempt to meet the Prime Minister.  Gee, this is fun.