Northern Excursion: Part 2

After leaving Le Kef we started on our way towards Tabarka.  The surrounding scenery was beautiful. I kept wanting to close my eyes and nap, but I was afraid of missing something. For such a small country, Tunisia is very geographically diverse. We drove through plains, mountains and rolling hills.

On our way to Takarba we stopped near a very small village in the mountains. We were given a tour of a large dam near the village and then we were taken to one of the most interesting restaurants I have ever been to for lunch.

Walking along the dam.
Walking along the dam.
The most unique restaurant I've ever been to.
The most unique restaurant I’ve ever been to.

The owner of the restaurant is married to an American woman and has spent time in America. He lived in Texas for a number of years and his time in the states was reflected in the design of the restaurant. One of the other SIT students on the program is from Texas and remarked that the restaurant did remind her of Texas.

Part of the restaurant.
Part of the restaurant.
The eating area.
The eating area.
The view from the restaurant.
The view from the restaurant.

During lunch we were joined by women from a nearby NGO. The organization is a cooperative and gives women in the surrounding area a plot of land so they can grow various types of herbs as well as grains, fruits and vegetables. Part of what the women do is make homemade soap and then they sell it to larger companies who distribute it. They also focus on growing mushrooms as well because they are easy to grow and have many health benefits.

Most of the women who work for the co-op were peasant before and this organizations gives them an opportunity to be able to provide for themselves. One of the women who was sitting with us at lunch appeared to be very quiet and only spoke Tunsi. We exchanged a few words but that was all I could manage. When the other women who spoke English started explaining more about the organization she also explained that when the organization started it was both men and women. However, the men were very demanding and were constantly telling the women what to do while the men themselves did not want to work. After the revolution the women held a meeting, led by the very woman who was sitting across from me at lunch and voted to make the organization only for women. We were all so impressed by this. I could tell the women was very proud of her actions. The women who spoke English also explained how the organizations was able to apply for more grants now that they only have women working for the co-op. It was nice to see some good things that had come out of the revolution since lately we have been hearing many mixed ideas about Tunisia after the revolution.

We arrived in Tabarka in late afternoon to a light rainstorm. We relaxed at the hotel for a bit before exploring. We had hoped to visit the fortress, but it was closed. Instead we climbed around on some rocks and walked by the ocean.

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Exploring near the fortress.
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Taking a quick break.
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Walking along the pier.

If you look close enough you can see some graffiti in the picture above. Every year Tabarka hosts a jazz festival and there was a painting from almost every year.

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A painting of Cheb Khaled, a well known Algerian artist who performed at the festival in 2007.

After exploring we had dinner back at the hotel. A few of us were feeling ill. Someone had gotten a virus and it was being passed around so those of us who were ill were grateful to have a buffet option were we could choose our portion sizes.

We left the next morning just as the sun was coming out.

The view from my hotel window.
The view from my hotel window.

We drove for a few hours until we reached Bizerte. We had some free time to walk by the sea before lunch. Bizerte is a beautiful little town. We ate lunch near the old city in the marina.

The marina in Bizerte.
The marina in Bizerte.

For lunch we bought fish from the medina and brought it to a restaurant where they grilled if for us. It was delicious and very fresh!

After lunch we had free time so some of us went swimming. The water felt so refreshing. Our academic director said we were crazy to be swimming since by Tunisian standards it was too cold for swimming. It was about 75 degrees outside.

Before dinner we went to a cafe near the marina. One of the other SIT students has a friend from Tunisia who is from Bizerte so we were able to meet with him. It was nice to be able to talk to a Tunisian who is able to converse in English since I was able to ask him more questions than I normally can with my host family or other Tunisians.

His name was Majd and he studied abroad in the U.S during high school for a year, which is how he knew one of the SIT students. He had studied at her high school. We all sat sipping coffee and tea for a while and then went back to the hotel for dinner.

I woke up the next day feeling very sick. I had finally come down with the virus that was going around. I didn’t end up doing much today since I wasn’t feeling well. Being sick while traveling is never fun, but I was glad I was only sick for the last few days.

The next day we headed back towards Tunis. We stopped at a beautiful beach along the way and ate some more fish, although I mostly ate potatoes since I was still sick.

We arrived back at La Marsa around 3pm. The trip was a great way to see more of Tunisia. I think I can speak for all my fellow SIT classmates when I say we are all very much looking forward to the southern excursion where we will get to visit part of the Star Wars set!

Until next time…

Bsleema!

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