As of today I have been living in Tunisia for one month! In reflection, my new life here bears not a single resemblance to the one that I left behind in Colorado – I share the street that I live and work on with herds of sheep, I bring children to tears with my blonde hair and blue eyes, and once again I’m Britney Spears… “Your name is Brittany? Like Britney Spears?”
Tunisian simplicity enchants me. People here have mastered the art of effortless happiness – less “stuff” and more time frittered away in the company of family or friends. It has been difficult for me, the restless American, to adjust to this mindset of doing things slowly or sometimes doing nothing at all. I walk too fast, drink and eat too fast, and start squirming after 30 minutes in the café. When I do manage to slow down to a Tunisian tempo, however, I feel gratified and rewarded. Yesterday, for instance, I had the afternoon free and met a friend downtown. We went to a café which we have coined “our office” because it is where we go to practice my Arabic and his English. We sat in our office for nearly two hours slowly sipping a cup of coffee and watching Arabic music videos. Afterwards, we took advantage of the cooler evening temperatures and strolled through the beautiful Ville Nouvelle to the edge of the sea to catch sight of fisherman casting lines into the shallow harbor water. I was told that they hardly ever catch any fish; it’s just a way to pass the time.
There are no Super Walmarts here – rather, in the French style, there is an “erie” for all your needs. Cuts of meat at the boucherie, fish at the poissonnerie, bread at the boulangerie, and my utmost favorite, croissants at the croissanterie. Yes, Tunisians have perfected the recipe for a chocolate croissant and are generous enough to offer stores for just this purpose. If you want to try the best croissants in Sfax, have a Tunisian take you to Ciao Ciao. It’s unmarked and from the outside it looks like just another bakery on a busy street, but inside they sell the kind of croissant that makes you obsessively look forward to breakfast. Ciao Ciao’s croissants are light and flakey, warm throughout, with just the right amount of messy, melted chocolate inside. Calorific perfection.
So, to conclude, one month of lazing around and eating chocolate croissants behind me and in front of me lies the terrific unknown.