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'Cause sometimes I even surprise the knit out of myself.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Tunisia, Malta and Sicily

So this is the continuation of the gratuitous vacation journal. I promise I am still knitting.

So we begin today's journey with a view from the top. Deck 11 that is. My friend Wendy and I trekked up to the top on Thursday morning. We were so flippin' wound up that day. We were going to Tunisia and we had been looking forward to this part of the trip for months now. I have a deep appreciation for Arabic culture, food, music, and dance. I've mentioned previously that I love belly dance, in all traditional and non-traditional forms. We headed upstairs with a nervous energy because we just didn't know what to expect. We knew about the haggling for prices when shopping and etc. We didn't know how we'd be received.
And then we see this..............OMG it's the coast of North Africa. Pinch me. This was such a dream of mine. Tunisia is a small country with a large, dynamic history situated between Egypt, Libya, and Morocco. The Berber way of life is still evident here. It is in the top 5 countries for olive oil production and the largest exporter of concrete. A very reflective Wendy preparing to plant our feet on African soil.
So my 3 girlfriends, one friend's parents, my parents and myself step off the ship to be greeted to Tunisian belly dancing, music and wonderfully decorated camels. HOLY CRAP. WE ARE IN FREAKING A.F.R.I.C.A!!!!!! Wendy and I were bursting out of our seams. If this port is half of what I can expect than I can go home happy right now with still 5 days to go.
It was everything I hoped for and more. This is the minaret of the great Mosque in the Souk el Bey where Muslim prayers are broadcast 5 times a day. Next stop? A carpet store, of course. I think my mint tea was spiked because when they started rolling out the carpets I was deliriously staring at all the intricate patterning and Berber style. I am such a sucker for textiles.
Betcha can't guess what happens next? Yup. That would be mine below. But the twist on this is my friend Wendy and I bought twin carpets separated by cutting the double fringe right here. We both fell in love with the camel hair, natural-dyed Berber rug and there were two connected. We got a good price and had them separate them by cutting the fringed that connected them together from the loom.
Toasting our purchase. I need a mint tea IV bag folks. Seriously. Tap the vein.
After 4 major purchases in our group we have a very happy carpet store owner and happy customers.
Love all of the turquoise blue against the white concrete buildings. This was a highly decorated door I fell in love with in the Souk.
While standing in the alley way waiting for a friend to complete a purchase, a store vendor was calling my by saying "Allo black". My friend Wendy tapped my shoulder to get my attention. This young man wanted to have my picture taken with him so I would remember him always as he would remember me. Awwwww. Ain't that cute?

We walked some more of the Souk with our awesome guide, Fauti and he took us here next. Behind an ornate wooden door opened to this lovely courtyard. The columns, walls and ceiling are intricately tiled and decorated. Mint tea is poured and some baklava placed on the tables when the Tunisian musicians begin to play. First the traditional Tunisian belly dancers perform and then a traditional belly dance in the oriental style. This is the most typical form we see in the states.
I was completely content at this very moment. All I needed was a little couscous and I was ready to say my vacation was fabulous. Ok I can go home totally happy and not see anything else. I studied her every move and technique.

Looking up at the architecture as the tabla played on.
The many archways in the Souk el Bey.
The minaret of the great mosque.
I will be coming back here. Mark my words.
So we ended the day having shopped our brains out, took in the local culture, and drank wine like it was our last drink. Wendy and I were on a high for the remainder of the evening. As always, every night ended with a Macchiato Valencia in the coffee lounge and then a visit to see our man Ariel in the Dublino.
Next stop: Malta and the megalithic temples.
This place gave me the a good way. The energy was fabulous here. This is the island of Malta situated between Tunisia and Sicily. Both cultures are very obvious in this blended country with a rich history. The language sounds like a blend of Arabic and Italian and it is so interesting to hear.
This are megalithic temples of limestone. One of the things I found so inter sting was that they bore a striking resemblance to those of Ireland. The guide did not know if there was a relation to those of the Celts but was entirely possible.
The spiral theme and typical Celtic cairn construction popped out to me.
Another interesting fact was that there were headless statues of deities found here. In the neck was a hole. A few rooms over, heads of different deities were found so the people would pop the head of the deity they were worshiping that day or period. Now that's what I call efficiency and space management. *snort*.
Ooooh a megalithic cauldron. Sign me up. I LOVE it.
See...I'm happy. Energy. Good. LOVE.
Then off to the Ghar Dalam which is really neat. This is a cave discovered by an archaeologist where they were able to determine the different periods of development and life on the island. At one time this tiny island was connected to Sicily and Africa. Animals as large as hippopotamus and elephants roamed this area. This is a volcanic island so it was believe that the land separated making Malta an island. Due to the ecosystem and lack of resources, this animals eventually became extinct.
There are many levels noted in here based on fossils found. There was an ice age, a "rain age" as they called it, elephant stage, deer stage. It was very cool to learn about the development of this place.
hmmmm Prickly Pears. YUM.
Back on to the ship to the last port of call before Rome....Palermo, Sicily. So now it's Saturday and having left Malta on Friday evening, we arrived in Palermo early in the morning. Unfortunately we didn't get the true picture of Sicily as we did not take a tour here and realized we probably should have. We missed a lot.
Very cutesey little marina.
Wendy at the door. I wanted to take the door home with me. I have this "thing" for architecture and textiles. Who knew? (said sarcastically).

Lovely mountains.
And then back for the last night in our favorite haunt, the Dublino.
Well it's late so that's what I will leave you with for now.
Next up: what I learned on my European summer vacation and the sex double-standard. Stay-tuned.
Oh yeah, and there will be knitting too. If your on Ravelry now, please stop by and say hi. I'm HolyKnitballs.


At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When did you visit tunisia?


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